The Planet Death story arc continues here! Aric, along with the High Priest, explores the camp where his fellow Visigoths are being held. Aric finds that not all of the Vine has is out for him, and things take a drastic turn in part two of Planet Death!
I'm loving this arc. It's not the "bang-bang" shoot em' up I was expecting. I actually was unsure of how it all was going to turn out because I just thought it was going to be Aric landing on Loam and going completely bonkers. Writer Robert Venditti does a great job in this issue balancing out the action from issue #11 with the mainly story driven book here in #12. We do get a couple of fantastic action scenes with just enough "PAFF-PAFF" to keep fans satisfied, but this issue is more about raising the stakes for Aric. X-O MANOWAR #12 does a great job at engaging the action lover and the story lover. Both sides of me are extremely pleased.
Obviously, Aric just can't blindly blow everything up all "willy-nilly." As seen in the last issue, there seems to be a few of the Visigoths left on Loam. The tables really turn here for Aric, as he finds out that while the Shanhara armor is extremely powerful, he isn't, and everything can come to a screeching halt as quickly as it all started. Essentially, get ready for some bummer moments because this train just ran into a large wall.
We get a couple of nice twists, in this issue, that really drive where the story is going for the rest of the arc. While this mission was all about revenge, Aric finds out a lot more is at stake and it dramatically changes his business on this planet.
The cover art here is amazing. Marko Djurdjevic's work here is breathtaking. The layout is very cool, and his use of color here is perfect. This is a piece I'd love to have hanging on my wall. Oh wait... I can have this hanging on my wall sometime soon.
The biggest disappointment here is simply the panel layouts throughout the book. It's pretty static and nothing special. After last month's opening, featuring the history of the Vine, which was brilliantly put together and laid out, I was expecting something on the same level as that, in this issue. What we got was a very classic, on-par issue, layout-wise, with the most interesting and eye catching piece being the splash, roughly halfway through the issue.
My biggest complaints, in earlier issues were the art of Cary Nord and the colors of Mouse Baumann. I've come to terms with them here. I like it, but I feel like it doesn't compliment the storytelling as well as it should. It's very solid work, and while at times, I've been a little harsh on it, I really do like what they're doing.
Part two of Planet Death does no disappoint. Venditti is doing a smashing job with this overall series and with this story arc. While this may not be a great time to jump onto the book, readers will be very happy with the twists and turns as Aric tries to avenge his people on Loam. The only real complaint I have with this issue is that the page and panel layouts were pretty average. Nothing really stood out to me.
Overall, this is still an amazing book, and consistently one of my favorite monthly reads. I highly recommend this issue.