by Jessica Greenlee
X-O ManoWar #20 continues the crossover with Unity. Although it stands on its own, giving quite enough background and detail for someone who doesn’t want to buy both books, the two books are definitely stronger together.
Where Unity #2 was almost non-stop action, X-O Manowar takes a moment or two to let everyone talk and provide some valuable character moments. In particular, Aric and Gilad have a moment to discus their different ideas of friendship and reasons for fighting and Harada has a surprising moment of concern for Livewire. After which, of course, the action kicks in again, and kicks in hard. Robert Venditti keeps careful balance here between action and quiet, knowing when to stop and let everyone take a breather before plunging back into motion.
It is a pleasure to read a book where everyone fighting has a good reason to fight and where, no, just sitting down and talking won’t solve everyone’s problems. These are complicated people with different desires and resolves here. Even those working together have different ideas about the ideal outcome: keep an eye on Livewire and Harada here. Meanwhile, the ship is still going down, and pretty soon everyone onboard is going to have to decide how to deal with several tons of ocean water while all the national navies converging on their point of impact are going to have to decide how or if they can manage an alien ship peacefully (probably not).
Nord and Cifuentes are up for all of the changes in mood and action, moving from quieter, more reflective moments to full on brawling easily. This is one issue where having expressive faces is a must, and everyone’s moods, certainties, and concerns come through clearly, immersing the reader fully into the tale.
If you’re reading Unity, read this too. If you’re not reading Unity, read X-O ManoWar anyway–and then go grab Unity. This is one story where you will want every possible detail, and where you’ll come out hungry for more.