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Review: Book of Death: Fall of Harbinger

bogfoh“Many years from today, Peter Stanchek, the Renegades, the Harbinger Foundation, the Bleeding Monk, and Toyo Harada’s Imperium all reach their terminus, as the entire planet becomes the battlefield for the most devastating psionic combat humanity has ever seen. The Great Destroyer, long prophesied and foreseen, comes to Earth at last. Who will survive…and what will be left of them?”

Book Of Death: Fall Of Harbinger is the latest of three one shot  tie in comics to the main Book Of Deathminiseries. I have been a huge fan of anything Valiant lately, especially the publisher’s summer event. Does this book follow that trend or is this the weakest of the bunch?

At some point, I was bound to read a Valiant comic I didn’t like, and unfortunately, it’s this one.

May familiarity with Valiant‘s universe is at best three to four months old, and while this gives me an honest advantage to reviewing the publisher’s comic books when thinking of new readers, my lack of familiarity isn’t always a benefit when picking up a tie in comic to the exceptional Book Of Death main series. Because I have no idea who any of the characters in this comic are, I also had no idea what was going on, or what any of it meant in the grand scheme of things.

I’m sure that for fans of these characters, and the comics they usually frequent will actually enjoy this book. Myself, however, I struggled through it; indeed, were it not for this review I would have probably stopped reading half way through, but I couldn’t give a fair review if I were to do that, could I?

It is worth reiterating that my lack of enjoyment here comes from a complete lack of familiarity with the characters; the other Valiant heroes I have read I had at least heard of so I was able to follow along with their stories much more easily. Book Of Death, by it’s very nature, tells the tale of how the Valiant universe ends, so having my first exposure to this generation of characters begin with  Fall Of Harbinger wasn’t the smartest idea on my behalf. That being said, the artwork here was solid, indeed it helped me understand enough of the story so that I had at least an idea as to what was going on.

To be fair, this probably isn’t a bad comic assuming you have more than a passing familiarity with some of the characters within. I didn’t, however, and nor did I find any major ties to the other Valiant books either, which is something I’ve been able to pick out and enjoy in the other tie ins. As a Book Of Death tie in, this comic is one you can easily pass up and not ruin any enjoyment of the remaining comics in the series, and ultimately that’s what I’d do if I wasn’t reviewing it.

At the end of the day, Fall Of Harbinger just doesn’t add enough to the main Book Of Death story line to justify my recommendation.

Story: Joshua Dysart  Art: Kano
Story: 6.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7 Recommendation: Pass

Valiant provided Graphic Policy a FREE copy for review.

5 comments

  • So you gave the comic a bad review because you didn’t familiarize with the material you wanted to review, so it’s the comics fault it didn’t spoon-feed everything to you? That doesn’t really seem fair, I think most people would try to learn about a character before reading a comic literally advertised as showing their death, it’s like reviewing JUST the last chapter of The Shining and complaining that you have no idea who Jack Torrance is.

    • I understand where you’re coming from, and had I picked up a comic that was art three of four then I’d be agreeing with you entirely. However the other two Book Of Death comics (Ninjak and Bloodshot) were both readable and enjoyable without much, if any, prior knowledge of the characters. Those two one shots could be enjoyed without any prior knowledge of the characters as good stories. This one couldn’t (at least not by me – your mileage may vary).

      I was looking at Harbinger as a standalone tie in to the main series. For me, it didn’t measure up.

      • Okay, in that context I understand where you are coming from. But I’d also really recommend reading Harbinger and Imperium, because this is probably the best comic Valiant has put out since Divinity, it is literally 3 years worth of loose ends and clues all being tied up perfectly without any cheesy cop outs.

      • Also I think part of the problem is that BOD is not trying to get new readers, that was what The Valiant was for. Book of Death has been a love letter to hardcore fans all the way through.

        • That’s fair. I have Harbinger, Imperium and The Valiant on my to read list (but when I’ll get to them I honestly don’t know), and when I do eventually read them I’ll definitely go back and read Fall Of Harbinger again – and I’ll probably agree with what you’re saying then when you say how good this issue is for those who’ve been following the series.

          Even as a love letter to hardcore fans, Book of Death has been very accessible to newer readers like myself (I started with X-O Manowar 38, and have been slowly reading each series as they kick off a new story arc), which is has been great.