With any other series I would say that they’re taking an issue off from the main characters, but that’s not the case with Harbinger. Joshua Dysart in a way fools the reader into believe that the series is about Peter and the rest of the Renegades, but it’s not. If you’ve been following the series then you may have realized that the story has spent the same amount of time, if not more, with Harada. Unlike most titles in the Valiant universe this series is actually about a group of people, but unlike something like X-Men it follows the world and not necessarily the cast. We learned in the last issue that the Harbinger Wars didn’t end quite the way we thought it did as our team of Renegades were actually captured by the Harbinger foundation and put in joint cerebral illusion, with the exception of Peter. The awesome thing is that the team is beginning to figure it out which could very well mean trouble for Harada and his team in the next issue.
We actually take a break from the Renegades and begin learning about one of the children that was captured with them in the raid. Her name is Monica Jim codenamed Animalia. She can project an illusion around her like Torque can, but unlike Torque she can change it. Due to the experimentation that Project Rising Spirit did on her she’s fascinated by cartoons and so all of her projections look like cartoons. It’s actually quite awesome. The bulk of the story is spent explaining Monica’s background and also the experiment that is being performed on the Renegades.
Though the story is in a way a reveal issue that is just spending it’s time explaining what’s happened, it’s a great issue. Learning more about Monica and the extent of her powers was a great change of pace for the series and captured the same feeling the series had when the Renegades were being recruited. There are some great consequences to this story that we’ll see next time, but I find the loses that Harada continues to suffer the most interesting aspect of all this. I’ve said numerous times that he’s an interesting character because you can’t really label him as good or bad. He’s both, but not really. Dysart adds even more layers to his character in this issue and builds the relationship between him and Peter. This relationship rivals any classic comic relationship of good and evil that you can think of, it’s that damn good.
The art faced one of its more challenging stories in this issue. Comics by nature are already cartoonish; it just comes with the territory. The challenge then becomes creating something that is obviously cartoonish without it being confused as realistic art within the story. Clayton Henry manages it wonderfully and I have to say that his cartoon animals and characters where very well designed. The animals in particular all have great facial expressions and really display Monica’s personality which is relatively unknown to us as the reader until then. For me Henry’s art is the best fit for Harbinger. Whenever he’s on the title it just feels right. He brings a lot to the story and the series is always better because of it.
This is a strange issue because I can and can’t really recommend it to new readers because it requires you knowing so much about the past story arcs, but in a weird way it also catches you up on the events. I still think you’d benefit from going back and reading from Harbinger Wars, but if you’re new to the series then don’t be afraid to jump on here as the newest arc is beginning. As good as the last few issues have been, this issue really gets back up to the standard and pacing the series has become known for. I’m pretty sure you’ll see this series on my Top Ten list again next month.
Writer: Joshua Dysart Artist: Clayton Henry Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 10/26/13