I said in my part of our Unity #3 review that Valiant isn’t afraid to break from the superhero mold and nowhere is that more apparent than with Harbinger. The thing is if you look at most superhero comic books there’s what we call the “status quo.” Sure there are some character deaths or moments in which a direction in the story changes the foreseeable future of the series, but eventually everything goes back to the status quo. Batman will have a Robin, The Thing will be covered in orange rocks, Superman will wear red and blue and Peter Parker will still be Spider-Man. With Valiant though… it’s not like that. This issue kicks off in the future or a possible future, in which Harada has been revealed to be a psiot and the world that once loved him… suddenly, fears him. To the point that the U.S. is asking him to give up control of his company and comply with their demands of his surrender. The thing is, if this sticks, if this is the beginning of the end of the story arc we’re reading… then it’s huge. There is no coming back from this and when you look at Unity it’s clear that Harada’s role in the Valiant universe is about to change. He doesn’t get to work in the shrouds of secrecy anymore, he’ll be fully exposed and I doubt he’s powerful enough to erase the memory of his existence from everyone on the planet all at once.
After our look at the future or what I’m calling a possible future, we find Harada receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. It really is the perfect contrast to his character throughout the entire series. From there we learn of Project Rising Spirit’s computers being hacked and all their dirty laundry being aired out. When you think of how dirty/evil Project Rising Spirit is and some of the jacked up things they’ve done in the short time that Valiant has been back… well you can only imagine what they’ll reveal in the future. Harada’s concern is that the Harbinger Foundation is more than likely named in their documents hundreds if not thousands of times. This all leads to a hacker known as @X who is trying to get caught… just not by the police.
This is a great issue and part of me wants to tell you more about the story since there’s a lot going on and I’ve skipped plenty, but I don’t think it’ll benefit you. If you haven’t read or tried out Harbinger yet, this is the perfect spot to jump on. You’re following a new character and everything about this arc is new. Also with the opening you learn what the psiots are and what they can do so you’re never once left in the dark.
A lot of that credit goes to writer Joshua Dysart. He manages to make this issue interesting, exciting and very entertaining to both new and current readers of the series. I’ve read all the previous issues and never once did I feel like this was a filler issue or just a rehash issue so new readers could catch up. I could see the moments in which were geared more towards new readers than current ones, but that’s because I was looking for it. I don’t think either part would be aware of it otherwise.
I’m really hoping Clayton Henry stays with this series for a while. I dig his art in a big way, but there’s something about his art for this series; he really is the perfect fit. While I haven’t been bothered by the rotation of artists on this title, I would like to see just one artist tackle an entire storyline and I think Henry is the man to do it.
I don’t want to say too much about the scene, but the visuals on Harada this issue were great. I still don’t fully get why Harada reveals his true look to the public, but then when he’s around his people he projects a younger version of himself. I think it’s to show his vanity to the reader, but it’s still a weird quirk for the character. Henry also nails the future tech aspect of this issue. There’s a scene in which the L.A.P.D. are using facial recognition software and @X has regog jamming glasses on. It was cool, but scary since it’s so close to home.
This issue is really good and while I don’t particularly trust @X, I’m very curious to see what happens with his story and the Renegades. Also I fucking love that they’re still calling them the Renegades! Stuff like that is just awesome, but also works in the context of the story. Again, if you’re not reading Harbinger this is the issue to start with. I still think it’s the best thing Valiant is publishing and it continues to prove me right month after month.
Writer: Joshua Dysart Artist: Clayton Henry Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 1/15/14