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Chain Reactions | Harbinger #1

Harbinger #1

The new Valiant Entertainment (or Valiant 2.0, Valiant Reborn or whatever you want to call it) returned to comics last month with the well-reviewed X-O Manowar #1. This past week their rebirth continued with the release of Harbinger #1 by Joshua Dysart, Khari Evans and Ian Hannin. How does it stack up? Here are few opinions from around the web …

Benjamin Bailey, IGN: “In the 90s, Valiant was king, and Harbinger was the title that earned them their crown. It was the book at the heart of the Valiant universe; the book that all the collectors gobbled up and sold for inflated prices. Harbinger was also, in a lot of ways, the book that all the other publishers would steal from for years to come. Now, it’s 2012 and we have a brand new Harbinger #1. If you are new to the Valiant Universe, there is plenty to enjoy in this issue, even if feels like something you have read before.”

Kelly Thompson, Comic Book Resources: “There’s a lot of great character work here, strong dialogue and a lot of plot, but the most exciting thing to me as a fan of superhero books is how Dysart handles Peter Stanchek’s power. Peter is some version of a telepath and unlike so many books out there, this fact is not just swept under the rug. It’s dealt with quite realistically and in good detail so that we can see what a mixed bag the power is. In fact, Stanchek’s first real act in this book is to steal drugs from a pharmacy and then mind wipe the clerk — but he needs the drugs to quiet the incessant inescapable voices in his head, so it’s hard to blame him. So often in comics that bit just gets glazed over — ‘Oh, you have to learn to control it’ — cut instantly to it being controlled. This is far more interesting.”

Chris Delloiacono, The Trades: “Dysart’s script succeeds brilliantly in packing every page but allowing the story to be told with Khari Evans’ art. This is a gritty world with seemingly normal looking people doing ugly things. Evans brings the ugliness of the world out but grounds it in realism that could make you wonder if there are people like Pete and Harada out in the real world. Most of the pages have between five and eight panels on them, which allows Dysart’s heavy story to unfold. Evans is up to the task of telling the story without lots of big panels that usually waste space and give you little money for your dollar. Khari Evans proves that smaller panels don’t have to lead to cramped artwork. Harbinger is a pleasure to look at from the first page to the last.”

Tony Soldo, Only the Valiant: “Also, one big thing that I really appreciate is that none of these books are using narration boxes or text panels to tell the story or show what the character is thinking. This is overused in comics, and it makes the artist less substantial because he/she isn’t allowed to really tell the story. In comics, writing and art need to work in tandem, and these Valiant books are really letting the artists shine without tons of words holding them back. We get so much characterization here just on the art and dialogue alone, it’s very impressive.”

Pierce Lydon, Newsarama: “Khari Evans artwork in this issue is inconsistent but definitely shows potential. Character renderings are the biggest culprit here. Evans’ expressions work go some nuanced and effective to unclear and unfocused in a matter of panels, robbing the characters of any kind of memorable moments. But Evans does an excellent job with a mental projection sequence that recalls some of Travel Foreman’s work on Animal Man. When all is said and done. The art is not all good but it’s not all bad. It’s placed firmly in the center. There isn’t a lot of interesting stuff to draw in this issue but the moment there is, Evans succeeds. I think that’s very telling.”

Jason Serafino, Complex: The universe here is introduced quickly, but there is also plenty of time to digest everything that is going on. Like the recent hit found-footage film Chronicle, Harbinger focuses on real people getting amazing powers, and they’re not always to be trusted with them. There’s an X-Men/Teen Titans vibe going on here that absolutely works in its favor. It’s dark and mysterious, but there is enough humor and genuinely relatable dialogue to make it all feel organic.”

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Comments

7 Comments

Really enjoyed this issue, bought it based on Dysart’s name and Unknown Soldier work. While I’m still skeptical that he’ll convince us that we’re supposed to root for a rapist (even if it was psychic manipulation instead of physical force, he still robbed that girl of the right to consent), I’m on board.

Manipulating someone to have sex is not rape

I’m surprised how many reviewers enjoyed the artwork. I found it terribly muddy, like a lesser Butch Guice or even a lesser Phillip Tan to be brutally honest. Dysart did great work on Unknown Soldier, and he didn’t turn in a bad script here, but I don’t think I can stick around for issue 2 when it costs $4 and looks this messy.

Trey, if someone were to telepathically compel you to have sex with someone you hated, I assure you, that would still be rape, just as if they had used a gun or simply the threat of violence.

Shooter’s Harbinger played with the ethics of Stancheck compelling his girlfriend too. I think the key differences were that she was already his girlfriend when that started in the original and that he was also much more aware of the scope of his power when he manipulated her in Harbinger V1.

Kris was in many ways the moral compass of the original Harbinger book, so I’ll be interested to see where Dysart takes this version.

Ultimately, I think this is a solid update. If a Misfits fan asked me what comics might appeal to them, I’d probably put Harbinger #1 in their hands.

Funkygreenjerusalem

June 11, 2012 at 4:00 am

I know the first guy writes for IGN, and so doesn’t have to know comics to write for their comics section, or have t remember the nineties to mention them…’ but in the nineties Valiant was king’??? At no point was that true.
Books people liked, books that got good reviews, but they were never sales or critical kings – that’s just a bizarre claim to make.

Skipping over Emo-Harbinger. I will however give Dwayne “Cable” Swizlkdfsldfsdifki’s Bloodshot a try. Unless he writes like Cable.

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