by Matt Kindt (Writer), Doug Braithwaite (Artist), Brian Reber (Colorist)

The Story: With the defeat of the Unity squad, Toyo Harada decides to lead an attack on Aric himself, helped by others along the way.

The Review: The opening issue of this title did a lot of things right. It presented every characters, its conflict, its setting in a concise and smart way without relenting in its actions and pacing. There were a few minor tweaks here and there, but for the most part is was quite enjoyable. However, debut issues aren’t everything, as while something may start quite well, it needs to sustain a certain level of quality in order to actually warrant an investment in its story and themes. Does Matt Kindt continue the quality writing that he had established prior?

In some way, he does as Kindt continues with plenty of actions as he raise the stakes of the conflict with Aric of Darcia. Opening with a catastrophe scenario, the issue continues then smartly with the problems made clear and concise as Kindt uses his characters well in most action scenes. Introducing Livewire to new readers as both a continuation of the ongoing narrative of Harbinger and the general Valiant universe, Kindt intelligently puts forth her ability in this issue, resulting in a rather nice sequence in the mainframe of Aric’s spaceship. In terms of tension and rising up the conflict, Kindt does very well here.

While he does tend to push more focus on certain characters, his division of the spotlight here is not negligible as well, with everyone receiving some moments of action or exposition in order to push their character forward in the conflict. The Eternal Warrior manages to interact with others and do battle against Aric, Ninjak fight some henchmen as he tries to reach the team, Harada explains the situation and participates in the general action, with most of them being active in meaningful ways beyond simply appearing in the background.

Where the issue kinds of break down, though, is in its pacing. While the issue is fast-paced, to its credit, it jumps around a bit too much with its characters and scenes. Doing so multiple times in some pages, this create a somewhat confusing experiences in some moments, with the digital fight, the infiltration of Ninjak and the battle of Eternal Warrior against Aric being switched between a bit too much. It’s big on action, but there is perhaps a bit too much going on in here.

Still, most issues, despite their strengths, can rise or fall with the quality of the art. With Doug Braithwaite, it’s a mixed blessing, as the panelling is dynamic, pushing forth the action and excitement with great results. The scenery and backgrounds are also really detailed, putting a certain diversity of mystical, technological and downright violent proportions at times. The motions and poses are also quite evocative, with the characters and their actions being easily recognizable without being stereotypical or purely trite. Where he falters a bit, which is something of a major point, is the high number of lines in some elements like costumes and most of the faces. There is a certain roughness to the facial traits due to these lines which makes them sometime look ugly and sometimes a bit inexpressive. It’s not universally so in this comic, as there are moments when close-up panels make the faces look quite decent, yet those aren’t the norm at all. There’s more positive than negative here, but it could have been a bit stronger.

The colorization of Brian Reber, however, is a bit subpar in this issue. While there are strong moments, Reber is a bit all over the place, as the palette and choice of colors in some scenes jumps around because of the constant switching. While the highly bright and energetic presentation of the digital world works very well, it does not add up very well to the constantly darker images in the rest of the issue. It does bring some interesting contrasts, but it never focus on a specific or high amount of a specific type of images in order to render them better in term of focus. It works very well at times, though, like in the first few scenes of the book, with a good distinction between normal and abnormal with the dry desert brown and the high and bright technology. In the scenes on the spaceship, those weaknesses become a bit more apparent, though.

The Conclusion: It possess some pretty fun action, a good focus on each characters and a good buildup on its conflict, yet the weird pacing, minor weaknesses in the art and weird colorization at times doesn’t make the title live up to the same height it had reached in its first issue. Good, but certainly not great.

Grade: B-

-Hugo Robberts Larivière