Triggered by the demise of the Armor Hunters, the Dead Hand has crafted a planetoid on a crash course with the Earth, which is where writer Robert Venditti and artist Diego Bernard pick up
X-O Manowar” #37. With an army of armor wearers backing him up, Aric — the armor wearer of Earth — makes a final stand.
Venditti makes it clear to the readers that Aric is the exception to the rule when it comes to the armor wearers. Appearing to be a hive mind, the battalion of wearers responds to Aric’s commands. Venditti makes this quite clear throughout the issue but also reinforces that by having Aric tell the readers, his foes and his allies as much. “X-O Manowar” #37 is pure plot powering forward to a conclusion, with virtually no character development allowed. The end result is a fast moving story that is packed with action but shallow in range. Aric is mad, the fight makes Aric madder and the possibility of having to get mad makes Aric warn people that he might get mad. Not much to grow on, but this is the final chapter of a four-parter, and Venditti has done a good job providing balance throughout this series.
Still delivering twenty-two pages of story, “X-O Manowar” #37 is open to Diego Bernard’s storytelling. Since this issue is filled with a straightforward battle, Bernard is able to unleash battle scenes, big blasts, explosions and snarling faces. The emotionless foe of the Dead Hand is basically a cardboard cutout threat, but Bernard finds moments to elevate the foe, if only to give the armor wearers more opportunities to shine visually. The trio of inkers brings different styles to this comic, but all three do a solid job of shoring up Bernard’s line work. Colorist Brian Reber holds the book together with strong colors, which once again amplify the armor wearers on each page of action. Letterer Dave Sharpe augments the shouting moments in the battle, at times over the top, but — given the battle raging throughout this issue — the exaggerated audio is expected and encouraged.
“X-O Manowar” #37 is, at its core, simply another man versus machine story. Venditti has been warning Aric and the readers about the potential threat of the X-O armor, but the true threat seems to be those issuing warnings again and again. Such is the case in this issue. As the fourth of four chapters dedicated to “Dead Hand,” this issue seems to close the case rather conveniently, as if daring readers to ask: “Were four issues really necessary?” Light on character development but full of fighting, “X-O Manowar” #37 isn’t the most memorable issue of the series, but it has some nice moments — among those, the three vertical panels that close out the issue. Venditti and Bernard don’t deliver a cliffhanger but, with unplayed dramatic music easily imagined to be hanging in the air, they let the reader know that this ending is not as complete as it seems.