The Harbinger Wars continues with this issue of Harbinger, but interestingly enough we’re given more information around the scene involving Peter’s team in the first issue. We’re also given more information about Rising Spirit (even more if you read Archer & Armstrong this week as well) as the story opens in the past. This is still by far my absolute favorite series from Valiant and its return continues to be one of the best things that have happened to monthly comics and storytelling.
The story begins in 1969 which is the same year of the first Harbinger War, but much like this issue, the first chapter is just the precursor to the war. In the Great Dismal Swamp of North Carolina, a military outpost stands on guard. The leader tells his men to prepare for “their” arrival and puts on a goofy looking helmet and steps outside in the rain with his men. In the air is a much younger Harada and two companions; one woman and one man. The leader of the troops reveals himself as Director Carter which Harada ignores choosing instead to focuses on the helmets. They have telepathy-suppression technology inside the helmets, which Carter informs him of so that they can speak on equal footing and he won’t suddenly “forget” their conversation.
After the meeting concludes we go back to the present and find Harada tracking Bloodshot who we know is making a move for the children of Project Rising Spirit. While planning and giving orders he’s interrupted by the Bleeding Monk who has summoned him to his mind. From there we pick up with part of what happened in Harbinger Wars with Peter, Harada and the Monk all meeting together. It’s still a good scene as it doesn’t copy the exact same sequence from HW, but rather presents another side of it with new information. The story continues after the point that Peter is kicked out of the conversation and is put back with his team.
There are several layers of plot at work in this issue and while some of them feed into the Harbinger Wars, it’s clear that Dysart is already building towards something bigger for the series and HW is only going to be a footnote. I personally don’t mind when two series share the same dialog and scenes, but are presented by different characters or narration. It makes it interesting, but Dysart has actually found a different way to tie in all of the events by only covering the bare minimum of each scene and presented more of the events either before or after. It works incredibly well and really ties the two books together.
Evans and Hairsine are great on art together. Hairsine covers the past segments and it’s very cool to see a young Harada even if he looked a bit like the Phantom Stranger at first. Evans style is easy to spot at this point in the series because he does such a great job on Peter’s group of characters. His Kris is the best of all the artists on the series due to the fact that he captures a lot of her personality on the page. Even if you skipped her dialog you’d still be able to tell what her feelings and attitude towards a situation would be just by looking.
This issue is kicking off a new story arc, but in general this series continues to have a much larger feel. I don’t get the impression that I do from other series that come from the “big two” where they really only have six months at the most planed. With Harbinger I literally get the impression that there are years of stories mapped out and planned and even if there are not, it’s very convincing. If you’ve yet to jump on this series you’re in luck as this is another perfect place to start. There’s a great recap at the beginning of the issue in case you want the backstory, but really you’d be fine either way. A great series and a great issue that does a whole hell of a lot more than simply tie into a crossover.
Writer: Joshua Dysart
Artists: Khari Evans and Trevor Hairsine
Publisher: Valiant Comics
Release Date: 4/10/13