Review: The Harbinger #1
Can you make the world better if you can’t be better? A telepath with no memory. A city of superpowered teenagers suppressed. Redemption. Destruction. Rebirth. A new era of HARBINGER begins here.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Harbinger is one of Valiant’s flagship titles dating back to the original iteration of Valiant from the 90’s. Joshua Dysart’s 2012 reboot Barbinger and the follow ups Imperium and Life And Death of Toyo Harada are widely heralded as one of the best runs that has come from the modern era of Valiant comics, so it’s no understatement to say that there are some fairly high expectations for this comic purely because of what’s come before.
The Harbinger #1 acts as both a continuation of Peter Stanchek’s story after the events of Harbinger Wars 2, and also as an entirely new entry point to the world of psiots and the Harbinger corporation. Writers Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing bridge the gap between the old and new by introducing Peter as an amnesiac who knows his name but little else; while this serves as a way to introduce new readers to a character with a mysteriously dark past to atone for, readers will (presumably) be as in the dark as to exactly what that involves as Peter himself until they’re comfortably in the series. Older readers will also benefit from the approach because they’ve either forgotten details of Peter’s life (guilty) or are waiting for the realization to dawn on him just how much of a mess he’d made of things.
Kelly and Lanzing frame the story as the beginning of a redemption arc, and perhaps even a superhero origin story, and for me it works. The writers don’t ignore anything that has happened before, nor do they spend a page an a half specifically repeating why people are afraid of Peter; it’s very much a case showing and not telling in a fairly frantically paced comic book.
Robbie Rodriguez artwork is revelatory; there’s a sketchiness to the style that’s used and, coupled with Rico Renzi‘s colouring work, it fits the narrative perfectly. The panels, colours and feel of the comic lends a sense of speed to a book that touches on atoning for past sins (even if you don’t remember them). At its heart, The Harbinger #1 is about whether a person can change without first acknowledging past wrongs; I’ve always been a sucker for redemption arcs, and this is no different.
Time will tell if The Harbinger will live up to expectations, but the creative team (rounded out by letterist extraordinaire Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou) are off to a cracking start.
Writers: Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing Art: Robbie Rodriguez
Colours: Rico Renzi Letters: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Story: 9 Art: 8.8 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review