By: Joshua Dysart (Writer), Khari Evans, Trevor Hairsine (Artists), Ian Hannin (Colorist)
The Story: We get to know a little bit more about the ties between Project Rising Spirit and the Hayada Corporation, while we get some more exploration of the renegades and their plans for the future.
The Review: Harbinger has been a kind of weird title in the renewed Valiant universe. With most titles already having a direction of some kind, with X-O Manowar and the fight against the Vine, Bloodshot with Project Rising Spirits and so forth, they had a pretty strong direction providing us with a great plot and some very neat concepts for their part in the Valiant universe. However, Harbinger has been the odd duck in the row, with the antagonist being set up, albeit in an ambiguous way, as well as with its protagonists, giving us a book that evolved very slowly through its first year.
This may sound like an insult to the title, but it’s the contrary in fact, as this weird direction has been one of its greatest strength. By giving us an ambiguous villain in Toyo Harada and more human and definitely flawed characters with Peter Stanchek and the others, Joshua Dysart has given us a title that lets its readers get information while the story focuses a lot more on the characters. By making us much more aware of who these characters are Dysart makes the story more about them, making us care about what they go through and what they want as they experience and show us the world of the Harbingers and their weird power.
It is precisely the character work that does wonder in this series, as we get a lot more out of each action and reaction by knowing just what those character went through before obtaining their powers and unlocking their potentials. Even those who seem like the worst characters are fascinating here, like Torque. In this issue, this specific character acts like a real tool, a complete self-centered, obnoxious, annoying little brat that needs to show off to everyone. It is especially true in a scene that focus on him, going into a bar as he acts like an absolute little prick, belittling everyone around him. However, when he is confronted by an handicapped man that has succeeded in life even with the loss of the use of his legs, he is instantly dumbfounded, his whole made-up persona crumbling as his way of covering his insecurity and his new lease on life is challenged by someone who has gone through the same experience as him and overcome them. However, Torque is no exception in this book, as close to every character has this kind of complexity, with Dysart giving us various reasons to become interested in them with his more nuanced and slow take on characterization.
As for the plot, it is much like the characterization, as more is revealed about Toyo Harada, while the story begins to reveal more information from the renegade’s point of view about the events from Harbinger Wars, which has begun earlier this month. It is a little bit sad, though, that some of the pages in this issue are exactly the same as in the first issue of Harbinger Wars, albeit drawn a bit differently. We get a bit of a different context, sure, but it seems like a waste to not get some more information or at least a longer scene with the bleeding monk. However, the rest is very solid stuff, as we get a very good scene with Faith and how she sees the recent actions of Peter and the other, giving us one more reason why she is one of the best characters in this comic with her optimism and her characterization.
Still, as good as the character work and the plot might be, a comic can become a bit lacking if the artwork does not follow with the same quality. Unfortunately, that is the case a bit here, with the art of both Trevor Hairsine and Khari Evans being a tad inferior to what we had seen previously on the title. While they do get some good designs and manage to get the message across throughout their panels and their action poses, their work proves to lack a bit in subtlety when it comes to facial expressions, as most of these faces are either inexpressive or a bit bombastic, as if they could not manage to set themselves in the middle when it comes to faces. The art is also generally rough, which does not help as it does not seem to be a stylistic choice rather than the way the duo generally draws.
The Conclusion: While the art and some of the plot may be a tad unspectacular, Dysart still manages to impress thanks to his incredible grip and focus on characterization, making us care about what happens to the renegades and in this title in general.
Hugo Robberts Larivière