Group Review: Harbinger Wars #2

You can expect a group review for each chapter of the Harbinger Wars due to its huge crossover status. If you need a refresher on the series then I would check out the review for the first issue, but also Harbinger #11 and Bloodshot #10. Once again, the different writers/reviewers of Comic Bastards will be weighing in with a score of: Buy, Borrow or Pass. Here’s the synopsis from Valiant and then onto the review!

From Valiant: The HARBINGER WARS heat up Las Vegas! After decades of secret conflict, Toyo Harada has managed in one fell swoop to cripple Project Rising Spirit through the masterful manipulation of key players in the Valiant Universe. Now he wants the psiot children Bloodshot rescued from the bowels of a nightmarish PRS facility. Too bad.

Connor: Buy

This issue was full on compared to the previous one. Honestly the first issue hadn't really sold me but this issue has really made things exciting. Action and tension has gone through the roof and I find myself starting to care for some of the characters.

Pacing is still a little over the place with the scenes that involve all the “suits” talking about just what Spirit Rising has done. I find it jerks a bit when it transitions from those scenes and the presentation of what they describe.

This issue has convinced me now to buy; especially readers of Valiant and any of the crossover titles. Jump on it guys, I am now interested to see where it will go. Oh and get excited, the H.A.R.D. Corps make their debut in the new Valiant Universe, it’s just getting better.

Samantha: Buy

There probably won’t be an issue of this series that I don’t say buy. I enjoy following the different groups and how they approach their “freedom.”  Why is it so kickass and cute when little kids have superhero powers? So Generation Zero is probably my favorite group to watch. They aren’t led by some great power but instead are just a group of kids trying to do what is right.

The story slowed down in this issue. The first issue was full of information and content. Now, I feel a little more at ease reading the comic and getting into the flow of how the rhythm will be played out. I think the comic was missing some much needed appearances by Peter and his gang though. Peter even graced the cover in a Peter vs. Toyo kinda way but wasn’t even in the issue. Seems strange to me. Instead it was an all-out battle between Bloodshot and Toyo.

Harbinger Wars will no doubt continue to be one of the biggest comics out there, so I would start jumping into the series now before it is too far in to catch up.

Ed: Buy

Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the quality of the comics I’ve been lucky enough to read this month but for some reason I found that I wasn’t quite as enamored with Harbinger Wars #2 as I was with the first issue of Valiant’s big summer crossover event. Regardless, I still respect the craft that’s gone into it and I think there’s plenty for readers to enjoy here for anyone who allows themselves to be swept along by the story, with the action coming thick and fast and a few twists along the way.

If you’re new to Valiant like I am, the issue suffers from the same problem as the first of only being able to offer us a surface-level understanding of the characters; but that’s a natural consequence of the shared-universe crossover/event story type rather than a fault of the creative team. Given the limited space and the emphasis on fast paced plotting, I think Joshua Dysart does a fine job of finding room for some touching character moments and a scattering of witty dialogue to lighten the tone. My highlight of the issue was the Disney-style cartoon bull rampaging through otherwise realistic artwork, a “hard light” projection imagined by a young psiot who’s only ever seen animals on children’s TV, which had me grinning like a lunatic. In fact I was impressed with Clayton Henry's artwork throughout, which fuses controlled, smooth and detailed line work with some punchy fight scenes. Good stuff.

Dustin: Buy

A jet crashes into the Bellagio just after a dude says, “This is why Vegas is balls over Dubai.” I don’t laugh much while reading comics, but this sequence of events was so fucking awesome that I couldn’t help it. Do yourself a favor and put on “Sure Shot” by Beastie Boys and read this issue.

The four different groups that make up the story are slowing merging to one big battle and it’s going to be incredible. Generation Zero as they’re called, have no idea what the real world is like and genuinely have no compassion for the human existence because they only have their own tortured experience to compare it to. Bloodshot meets Harada and the Harada Protocol has to be one of the sweetest things to link the Valiant Universe ever! What’s even better about this issue is that the Renegades make one appearance and it’s incredibly bad ass. Other comic companies should pay attention because this is how you do a crossover, take note because nothing else will be acceptable from this point forward.

Carl: Buy

I was leery starting this book and seeing the helpful index of characters.  With so many people involved, I realized there might be some trouble in following the action.  Then I realized that this comic is called Harbinger WARS, and, well, you can’t have a war without armies of people. 

Keep in mind that I did not read issue one.  Knowing Valiant comics, I figured I would have no problem getting right into the story because of the excellent execution of another little book from Valiant called X-O Manowar.  I was right.

A comic book that opens with a military grade helicopter crashing into The Bellagio hotel and casino in Las Vegas, killing strippers and their Arab rainmakers, gets my attention.  The battle escalates as countless characters come into the skirmish.  Tiny text boxes alert readers to the characters’ identities and powers. 

Things get a little hard to follow at this point, but the action takes some wicked turns.  For instance, Bloodshot gets overpowered by the same type of protocol that overtook Robocop.  When Bloodshot infuses his nanites into Harada, the evil Harada cures himself in a most despicable way (a truly WTF moment).

As someone familiar with the 90’s Valiant run, my nostalgia exploded with a recruitment scene at the end of the comic.  The continuity tie with the old Valiant world serves this book well.

Harbinger Wars #2 builds a momentum that makes this a book worth exploring.  In a few issues I will be familiar with the combatants and the stakes, and I will be certain to make this a must-read every month.

Until then, I will give this book a strong 3/5 due to my anticipation that the score will rocket higher in the next issue or two. Keep it up, Valiant; you are doing an admirable job!

I think it’s safe to say you should buy it.

Story by: Joshua Dysart & Duane Swierczynski

Writer: Joshua Dysart

Artists: Clayton Henry with Pere Perez

Publisher: Valiant Comics

Price: $3.99

Release Date: 5/1/13