Aric arrives on the vine home-world to extract revenge, but he finds that bringing the Shanhara home is going to involve a whole lot of killing in part one of Planet Death.
The first 6 pages of this issue are fantastic. We get a history of the Vine and the planet. Writer Robert Venditti puts together this wonderful, fairy-tale piece with some solid art from Cary Nord and great color work from Moose Baumann. These page layouts are brilliant. There's a great mixture of contemporary paneling with these fantastic stone borders with vines growing around them. It really adds to the storytelling and historical aspect here. In addition, it actually makes you feel for these creatures. Since issue #1, the reader has seen the Vine as this antagonist with no remorse. This opening gives the reader another side of the Vine: a side that, at one time, had it's own struggles with a creature called The Torment. However, everything seems to come full circle.
Do you like things blowing up and heads getting Paff'd? Then this is the issue for you! In all seriousness, this is the issue X-O MANOWAR fans have been waiting for, and it does not disappoint. We get to see the early beginnings of a one-man-war against the Vine. As soon as we see Aric, after he crashes on the Vine home-world, it's an all-out slaughterfest.
The last page of this issue is fantastic, and without spoiling anything, it changes Aric's game plan. While Aric wants to take revenge on the Vine and their planet, he may not be able to. He may even have to work with some of the members of the Vine to achieve his ultimate goal. The plot thickens in this issue for sure.
That Clayton Crain cover is amazing.
Aside from the opening pages, I had a bit of a problem with the art. Originally, I thought it was with Cary Nord, but as I kept going through the issue, I realized the problem isn't with the penciling or inking. It's with the colors. The colors are actually pretty flat here, with overly-drastic light reflections. There's no in-between.
X-O MANOWAR #11 is awesome. I'm not going to spice it up with an over-the-top analogy this week. This is a book you should be reading because it's consistently great. While Aric finally has a chance to extract his revenge on the Vine, he finds out it's not that easy. Venditti keeps this book fresh, month after month, and the opening sequence is written and drawn beautifully. My only problem was that outside of that opening sequence borders, the colors felt very flat.
Overall, I highly recommend this issue and series.