Joshua Dysart, Duane Swierczynski (Writers), Clayton Henry (Artist), Brian Reber (Colorist)
The Story: The many players in the game converge in order to go toward the prize: the psiots children. Chaos, violence and events ensues.
The Review: Crossovers can be many things. Some of the time, they can be merely fun stories that shows the departure between two characters or teams that depict their differences and their similarities in celebration of what they are. Other times, they can be crucial in the development of one or several plot points in a series, making the story move forward in a more or less organic way in order to shake up the status of one or both the book involved. However, when said crossover is also an event, it can complicate things as it can sometime feels like they are trying really hard to do both.
In the case of Harbinger Wars, it really feel like this is what they tried to do, while adding even more. The Valiant universe is still very young, in need of some key moments or events that may yet develop some of the characters or set up some further stories in its future. As the series advanced, it tried to become a bridge and a progression toward two books, Bloodshot and Harbingers, yet somewhat failed in doing so in a way that resonated in a single book. It connected several elements in ways that made sense, yet there are some places in which this crossover event failed.
However, before going on to what the book did wrong, let’s begin with a bit of positivity. What this book did superbly right was the action and the presentation of what made the universe different from the other big two. As the comic partake in a very long action scene featuring several battles and conflicts with multiple characters involved, we are shown how things are in this world. In short, the whole thing is brutal as technology meets psychic powers, resulting in a lot of damage, which in effect result in big fight scenes that actually are very interesting to follow both visually and conceptually. The writers know what some of these characters can do and they do not shy away from how nasty some of these powers can turn out to be.
What’s perhaps a tad less positive, though, would be the whole conclusion and progression up to that point plot wise. Sure, we had some sort of build up on the whole Project Rising Spirit/Harada corporation conflict that was the backbone of the crossover, yet there are too many spotlights in this issue focused on too many elements at once in order for us to appreciate all that is happening. While we follow Bloodshot and his psiots, Peter Stanchek and his renegades, H.A.R.D. Corps, Toyo Harada and Generation Zero, all the action does not really leave much place for us to have any kind of satisfaction or surprise toward the end result. Without spoiling much of anything, a certain character merely appear, does an action or two as the action scene ends without us seeing what happens to several characters. As a result, we do not get endings or much of any hints toward the fate of some of the major players of the series as the crossover event close. It’s both a pity and a blessing to know that several of the events that occurred here shall have impact on the two books, yet it gives a mixed feeling as well in term of satisfaction as a reader who followed the whole thing from the beginning.
What’s much more satisfactory is Clayton Henry, who brings the explosive and downright insane action to life as we follow each players in the Vegas scene. He has energy and knows how to pace everything in order to get enough satisfaction in terms of action from scene to scene, making none of them look dull for a second. He brings the impact and the general impression of each power wonderfully, as we can certainly believe the expression of each characters as they live and experience some of the more brutal moments in the story.
The colorization also shows things in a smart manner, as Brian Reber plays a lot of the elements in a more realistic and nuanced way, bringing real life coloring in the story. As a result, when he does draw the various powers of the psiots, it really brings the weirder aspects of the story to the forefront, effectively putting them forward for us readers to enjoy.
The Conclusion: As much as the action and the use of the setting in order to make it seem exciting is well done, the conclusion and the general build up leading to it weakens the general effect of the story as a lot of elements that made the story great are left unused in favour of others. Strong art, good action, yet a weak plot.
-Hugo Robberts Larivière