X-O Manowar and Ninjak cut deep into “THE KILL LIST”!
Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Robert Gill
Publisher: Valiant Comics
Page Count: 32 PP
On Sale: February 3, 2016
In part 2 of Valiant’s X-O Manowar “The Kill List”, Aric and Ninjak have been sent by G.A.T.E and MI-6 to catch Vine warrior Commander Trill. They must also destroy his group of terrorist Vine Plantings who are plotting to spark an intergalactic war between humans and the Vine. Meanwhile, tensions are brewing in Western Nebraska at the Vine’s temporary settlement between the local residents and the Armorines protecting the alien race. Will the Vine High Priest wake from his comatose state to negotiate the settlement of his people, or will Commander Trill overthrow him and prevail in orchestrating the start of an epic battle…?
This issue starts with a bang as Ninjack gets to put his swords to good use in sending a message to Commander Trill, he dispatches a few of his Vine Planting agents in a rather gruesome spectacle! I enjoyed the “wave hello to our audience” line too; Ninjack really is a fantastic character. Venditti did a great job in creating a sense of urgency throughout by heightening the friction between the two sides; during the issue tensions escalated, fueled through the animosity the Nebraskans are displaying towards the Vine settlemen. I can’t see it being long before they reach boiling point…
The story kept me hooked throughout the entire issue as it was so gripping. My only criticism is that it was over far too soon and now I have to wait to see whether we’ll get another Commander Trill and Aric showdown! There were definitely some very current themes explored in this arc, in particular hostility between different races that mirrors today’s issues surrounding the treatment of migrants and those with different religious beliefs. The part in which Madison and Chutto reached out to each other through the mesh to touch hands really affected me, as it was very reminiscent of the tragic The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. The Vine’s situation in the temporary settlement also really encapsulated a District 9 vibe. I can very much empathise with the Vine, but I can’t help but wonder whether they’ll back Commander Trill as their champion, rather than follow the High Priest’s hope of peace?
The art in ‘The Kill List’ completely blew me away, from the noir-esque opening that combined dark muted colours and then used the bold red to really highlight the blood and carnage. This comic is definitely not scared to explore some dark places! The following scenes in Nebraska completely contrasted with the opening as Gill used very bright colours, particularly blues and greens. I also particularly liked the detailing of the reflections/shine on the Armorine’s suits in this section. The individual detail in each character on the page is some of the best I’ve ever seen too, even the Vine seem very realistic. My favorite image however had to be Aric transforming into his X-O Manowar armour while soaring down to Earth, it really was fantastic!
Overall I found the story tense and gripping – I didn’t want the issue to end! The cliffhanger nicely ramps up the anticipation for the impending battle in the next installment. I found myself really backing the High Priest and I very much hope the other Vine do, unfortunately it’s not looking that way though! I also really enjoyed Ninjak in this issue and hope he plays a bigger part in future installments. Bring on “Coup D’etat”!