“X-O Manowar” keeps on cappin’ fools, “Mystery Girl” finds trouble in Siberia, and “Dejah Thoris” debuts – all in this week’s reviews from Dark Horse, Dynamite, and Valiant Comics.
X-O Manowar #44
Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Robert Gill
The “Kill List” storyline continues as X-O teams up with enemy-turned-teammate Ninjak to thin out Vine sleeper cells eager on starting war between humans and aliens. With his forces dropping like flies, notorious X-O hater Commander Trill shifts his “kill all humans” plan to the next phase. Back at X-O’s home compound, the recent influx of Vine refugees has the human population feeling evermore xenophobic (hey, that kind of reminds me of something… pretty clever, Venditti).
After last issue’s set up I thought we’d have a repeat of assassinations. But with the focus on tension at home, Venditti proves his mastery over the title as we close in on the big “5-0” of his long run. From the budding friendship between a Vine child and a human to a story of racism as related by an African American Gunnery Sergeant, Venditti finds new beats to hit in what could’ve been a very simple storyline. It’s those human moments that elevate the title and keep it grounded among the aliens and laser beams. That said, I felt like Gill’s art was a bit lacking this time around, but I stopped caring as much as the story drew me in.
5 out of 7
Mystery Girl #3
Writer: Paul Tobin
Artist: Alberto J. Alburquerque
“It wasn’t curiosity that killed the cat. It’s the answers that are fatal.” As Trine closes in on a mammoth of a find, the diabolical assassin Lindford is not too far behind her and he’s not alone. One mystery solved begets another, even darker secret with ties to a huge corporation.
We’re far from the London sidewalks of issue 1. Tobin’s tale keeps increasing in scope to the point where we’re mushing sled dogs and fending off wolf attacks on frozen tundra. Alburquerque’s art continues to sell this grounded (but not grim) fantasy detective story. This is one of those multi-genre mash-ups but all the pieces are vibing well so far. My lone gripe is I wish they’d let the mysteries linger just a bit longer before Trine easily solves them. The shocking finding in the middle of this book is solved almost immediately as it’s discovered. However, the dynamite cliffhanger at the end of this issue is a mystery I can’t wait to have solved next month.
5 out of 7
Dejah Thoris #1
Writer: Frank Barbiere
Artist: Francesco Manna
John Carter’s main squeeze and inspiration for the slave Leia bikini, Dejah Thoris, the Princess of Mars herself stars in her very own book. Things are shaken up on the red planet when Dejah’s father disappears and she’s accused of treason. “From princess to queen to prisoner in one day”, it’s up to Dejah to get to the bottom of the conspiracy aiming for the throne and learn the truth about her past.
Manna’s art combined with Morgan Hickman’s otherwordly coloring bring this outer space pulpy adventure to life. But while I enjoyed Barbiere’s work on his mini-run with “Solar”, I just couldn’t be drawn into Dejah’s quest. However, that’s more of a fault with the source material. Burrough’s “Princess of Mars” is a case where the work it has influenced have outmatched the original, so much so that even new entries in the series just look like pale imitations to me. Even Dynamite’s last John Carter series, with the Earth man fighting against a fellow Civil War veteran come to Mars, failed to pull me in. To each their own, but maybe another comic book fan will find this book to be their cup of tea.
4 out of 7