Way back in the opening volume, By the Sword, Aric bonded with incredible sentient armour on an alien spacecraft. He rapidly learned to control the armour, discovered it was bonded only with him, and its offensive capacities were second to none. He’s accepted what’s happened without ever questioning why, or where the armour originated, and that’s the territory covered in Armor Hunters.

The hunters of the title were first seen in Prelude to Armor Hunters, and far from considering the capabilities of the armour as a blessing for an individual they considered it a plague to be exterminated, and appeared very successful at ensuring this. There’s very little of Aric seen in this graphic novel, yet Robert Venditti’s plot is so absorbing that it doesn’t matter. Aric’s been the centre of attention to date, yet the series is titled X-O, and anyone who didn’t read the original 1990s series has no knowledge why. In fact, given the tweaks applied to this re-boot, those who have read it might not be any clearer, and the reason for the title is now divulged. Three chapters are given over to the Armor Hunters, and we see in great detail what shapes their worldview, why the armour is considered so lethal, what it’s really capable of, and how it can be destroyed.

Diego Bernard is one hell of an impressive penciller. He creates complete environments, populates them with great designs (take a look at the alien bar in the featured page) and his action scenes have a fluidity and excitement to them. The design element becomes more important as it becomes apparent that more aliens than humans are required.

Everything sounds great, right? There’s a problem. For the second time in three X-O volumes we don’t get the complete story. That requires picking up the first Armor Hunters collection, the events of which slot in between the third and fourth chapters of what’s presented here. We’re brought up to date, but it’s shoddy and contemptuous marketing. Anyone on a larger budget is better advised to pick up the third X-O Deluxe Edition, which includes the entire story. X-O continues with Enter Armorines.