Valiant (Re)visions: X-O Manowar #10 and Harbinger #9 [Review]

We’re back with another week of Valiant (Re)visions, and this week is a doozy as we tackle two big books: X-O Manowar #10 and Harbinger #9. Our team of Brandon Burpee and David Harper teams up to dissect these book and look at what’s next for both of them as they approach big crossovers.

Let us know your thoughts on these books in the comments!

David: Alright Brandon, we’re back for our second week of Valiant (Re)visions actions. I hope you’re primed and ready, because it’s another double review week.

This week, we get a chance to take a look at both X-O Manowar #10 and Harbinger #9. Let’s start off with X-O, coming at us from writer Robert Vendetti and artist Trevor Hairsine. This issue acts as the final prelude to “Planet Death.” I know X-O has not been your favorite so far, but I’m curious, how did this one work for you?

Brandon: It was alright. I thought the story was alright but I really didn’t love the art all that much. It seemed sloppy in some places and overall wasn’t my cup of tea. It was my least favorite of the Valiant offerings for the month without a doubt. How about you?

David: I thought it was pretty decent. Nothing spectacular, especially compared to the recent issues with Ninjak in the mix, but it was an enjoyable read that sets the table even more for Planet Death. I have to agree with you, Trevor Hairsine’s art was pretty sketchy in spots, especially compared to his art on issue 9. I know he’s a guy who, historically, has had issues hitting deadlines (or at least that’s what my memory says). Do you think that’s what brought his work down? I’m pretty sure you’ve enjoyed his work in the past.

Brandon: I am not familiar with a lot of his work honestly and what his ability to hits deadlines are. I honestly didn’t mind the issues prior to this and I actually liked, despite most seemingly hating the mini, X-Men: Deadly Genesis that he did with Ed Brubaker. So I know that he isn’t a bad artist. I just didn’t enjoy this issue. I mean everyone has their off days.

Honestly, it wasn’t all on him though. I didn’t love the story all that much either. I felt the return of the main character’s friend was rushed and honestly didn’t accomplish much. Also, how did he survive in the suit? I thought only the chosen one could do that. That part devalued the uniqueness of the main character for me. Having said that I never have read any of the original stuff so I am not sure if this is something that gets touched upon later in the series or something.

David: I really loved Hairsine’s work on the Wisdom mini with Paul Cornell. He was incredible in that – like a poor man’s Bryan Hitch, which would make him a perfect fit for this book. But his stuff was pretty sketchy.

As for the story itself, on one hand I agree with you in that it burned through the friend plot incredibly fast AND that him being able to go into the suit too devalued Aric’s specialness a bit. Aric being able to be the one person who care wear the suit was kind of the crux of why he was a target for The Vine and such a firebrand. Just throwing his buddy in it – who was from 402 A.D. mind you and immediately a) acclimated to the modern world enough to chuck cars about and b) zipped into space to blow up spaceships – was a strange move.

On the other hand, I did enjoy it overall. Were there plot holes? Yeah. Was it still a pretty enjoyable read? I’d say so. There were certainly flaws and it was undoubtedly a downturn given where we’ve been recently.

And I don’t think the original stuff really factors in, too much.

We’re about to jump into Planet Death. Do you have hopes for that being all kinds of kick ass, or at least more enjoyable for you?

Brandon: Oh hell yeah I have all kinds of hope that the Planet Death arc will be better than this issue. If it’s not talking about this book might become a lot less fun. So on a scale of 1 to 10 i’d probably give this issue a 5. Where on the scale does this book fall in your opinion?

David: I’ll give it a 6. It wasn’t bad by any means, but it fell short of getting a definite buy rating. There were just too many flaws from both a written and illustrated standpoint.

Up next, we have Harbinger #9 from Josh Dysart and Pere Perez. This has been one of your favorite books of Valiant so far. Does it continue to deliver the goods for you, my teen superhero obsessed friend?

Brandon: Oh absolutely. I felt like this issue did a great job of continuing to ramp up the action as we move closer to the Harbinger Wars. I also really enjoy Zephyr and this issue only made her more enjoyable. She became a three dimensional character right before our eyes in this issue. I thought from the writing to the art the book was well put together.

David: I am way more effusive about this book than you for once! I thought this issue RULED. I really, really enjoyed it. Getting Zephyr’s back story made her far more three dimensional, as you said, and it gave so much meaning to her role as the flying geek girl of the group. I really, really loved what they did with her, and giving her a chance to be a hero for the group – especially given her gleeful anime reunion with Peter – was freaking spectacular. Come on man, show me some enthusiasm! I know you had to have loved this issue!

Brandon: I said I enjoyed the book sucka! It was easily the best Valiant book of the month in my opinion. The art on the book was awesome. I completely agree with you on the anime reunion panels. I had a legitimate chuckle out of that whole situation. In other books it might have been an eye roll moment for me as it would have been out of nowhere. In this issue considering what we know about Zephyr it is entirely on the money. It’s like when you stormed out of my house that one time and called me an A-Hole and the way I saw it in my head was Kitty yelling that Xavier was a jerk.

David: Ha! There we go. I thought Pere Perez’s art was stellar throughout, and was a spot on match for the book. He did a great job with everything from the development of Zephyr as a character to the more action oriented sequences. I know I have seen his work elsewhere, but on this it was just a perfect marriage of artist and title.

For you, were there any standout moments in this issue?

Brandon: By far my favorite parts were the flashbacks that pieced together Zephyr and why she is the way she is. If I had to choose just one of those scenes I would probably take the opening page where her parents die tragically and she compares herself to Superman. In one page she became a real living breathing character with a real deal comic loss of parents backstory and an instantly definable feeling for her loss that all fans can understand. It really was a great opening salvo that kicked this issue into high gear from the word go. How about you?

David: I loved the part with her grandmother and how she needs to keep the things that were important to them close to her, that way it would be like they were never gone. I thought that was really powerful and shows just how good of a writer Dysart is. He’s a guy I have enjoyed a lot before, but I don’t think I have ever really read superhero stuff from him. He certainly has the chops for it, even if this book is a little off kilter for a cape book.

You have mentioned Harbinger War a couple times. Clearly you are pumped for that. What little threads did this issue start building into that crossover, in your mind?

Brandon: Well I think the main thing is just that they are coming together as a team and are starting to see their limits as well as some of their strengths as a team. This is a team that has a much better understanding of each other and their powers than they did a couple issues ago.

David: Yeah, you could definitely see that coming together. It helps that Zephyr is so enthusiastic about it.

But as far as the Harbinger War deal, I think you know more about it than I do, as I just got caught up with this book. What’s the premise behind it? Obviously Project Rising Spirit is the tie that binds between the two. Was there anything in particular here that seems to build into that?

Brandon: I am not sure that anything from the issue directly ties into it per se but I know that I am jacked through the roof for this event. It really is the first event comic I have been excited for in quit awhile. It should be fun because it’ll be a nice contained intimate affair.

David: Me too man. They’re really doing an amazing job of building this as an interconnected universe. Do you have anything else to add before we jump into grades?

Brandon: The only thing I have to add I suppose is that this book is badass and I can’t wait to get through this arc. Not because it is bad but because I want me some Harbinger Wars! Bloodshot AND Harbinger doing the dance of death with one another?! Going to be amazing. Oh and I also want more Zephyr! Also, is it possible to get Gamma vs Zephyr in Harbinger Wars? That would blow my fucking socks off.

David: Couldn’t agree more. This ninth issue was, in my opinion, the best issue yet, and a great example as to why this is one of the best young hero books on the market, if not the best. Dysart’s grasp of the characters is so spot on, and I loved the way he zeroed in on Zephyr yet still kept the plot moving forward, while Perez is a great fit for his scripts. All in all, I’m totally onboard with this book, even if there is no eventual Gamma vs. Zephyr (Gamma would own her, by the way).

I’ll give it a 9.0. It’s a really good book, and it continues to improve the further in we get. What do you give it?

Brandon This book gets a big fat solid 9.0! This is the best Valiant book of the month without a doubt in my mind. If this book gets any more awesome I’m going to have to make Valiant start covering the cost to replace my socks which keep getting blown off!

David: Alright folks, that’s it for this week. We’ll be back next week with our first edition of Valiant Power Rankings, in which we rank the Valiant books in order from best to worst and tell you why! Be there or be square!

About The AuthorDavid HarperDavid Harper mainly focuses on original content, interviews, co-hosting our 4 Color News and Brews video podcast, and being half of the Mignolaversity and Valiant (Re)visions team. He runs Multiversity's Twitter and Facebook pages, and personally tweets (rarely) @slicedfriedgold. By day, he works in an ad agency in Anchorage, Alaska, and he loves his wife, traveling and biscuits & gravy (ordered most to least, which is still a lot).

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About The AuthorBrandon BurpeeBurpee loves Superheroes, Alaskan IPA, 90's X-Men and is often one more beer away from a quotable.

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