What this issue of X-O MANOWAR does in such a fantastic way is close the door to one story, while opening up the door to another. The arc featuring Aric in prison comes to a close, and finally, Aric and his Visigoth people get their own piece of land, in Nebraska. However, because these folks are occupying American soil, the American government requires a little bit of "help" from Aric.
It is such a smooth and brilliant transition into the net arc. Three cheers for writer Robert Venditti for not only making this feel as natural as possible, but also giving the reader a worthwhile story as a follow-up to UNITY.
From there, the book somehow gets even better. This is a series, I've said time and time again, that just keeps getting better and better. It's dumbfounding how this is possible. Aside from Aric working for the government, he is still doing his best to take care of his people. He truly is a great leader, to them. We also get a couple small moments of the Visigoths adjusting to their new life and finding out what cheese is. This adjustment is grazed over a tiny bit and it's something I hope Venditti goes back to in the next issue or so.
The art style on this issue is really interesting. Cary Nord did the layouts, Vincente Cifuentes did the finishes, and Ulises Arreola did the colors. The books has this distinction of looking pretty soft because of the colorwork, but also incredibly sharp thanks to the art. The art really shines with the spaceships and futuristic technology though. The ships looks incredibly sharp and the colors are near perfect. There's one page, in particular, that really caught my eye featuring Aric laying in the grass. It's four large panels, and we see Aric falling asleep, but the wind picks up and he wakes up. It's a moment told brilliantly through Nord and Cifuentes art.
If you're not reading UNITY (you're crazy), you're going to have trouble figuring out just why Aric has the Shanhara back. Aric is in prison, gets the armor back, and is let go. This issue really doesn't do the best job at explaining what happened in UNITY, in case the reader only reads X-O. It's the start of a new story, so as a reader, you may hope for something completely new reader friendly. That's not really the case here.
Overall, X-O MANOWAR #22 offers a straight forward issue that concludes one fantastic story line and shoots the reader into another great story with a fantastic and beautiful transition. Nothing feels forced and Venditti keeps this series incredibly interesting by exploring new avenues for this character and his people. Once again, X-O MANOWAR proves to be one of Valiants top books and one everyone should be reading.