Tag Archives: faith

Underrated: Imperium

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: the comic book Imperium


When Valiant Entertainment relaunched in 2012, one of the four books that the publisher started with was Harbinger. Arguably one of Valiant’s signature books, the original series launched in the 90’s with the publisher’s first incarnation. I have never read the 90’s series in full, but have dabbled in an issue here or there (specifically the two that contained chapters of the multi-book crossover Unity). I have, however, read the entirety of the modern Harbinger run, and own a smattering of individual comics and the three deluxe hardcovers containing the story; Harbinger Deluxe Edition One, Harbinger  Deluxe Edition  Two and Harbinger Wars 
Deluxe Edition. Until very recently, I had not read Imperium. While I have had access to the review copies for years, I had long decided that I would rather read the story in print form so I was waiting to pick up the deluxe hard cover edition of Imperium from my LCS. A couple weeks ago, I finally ordered it.

It cost me $65 before taxes and it was worth every penny.

There are easy comparisons to make between the Harbinger story and that of the X-Men, between Toyo Harada and Magneto; an incredibly powerful man who wants peace at any cost. The truth is when I was reading the book there are obvious similarities to the X-Books. Especially now that the X-Men have their own nation state, which is where Imperium finds Toyo Harada and his Foundation.

Joshua Dysart pulls the sixteen issue story in from various places in the Valiant universe, touching upon characters that will be familiar if you have read the previous Harbinger run that I spoke about (again) last week. If you haven’t read those books it shouldn’t be a big deal – the story is told in a way that it can be read alone, but you’ll miss out on some context here and there (and a great build up) if you skip what came before.

Watching Harada build his nation state free of scarcity while fighting the countries that are trying to stop him over the course of sixteen issues is fascinating. We watch him take some extraordinary measures to ensure that he is left alone, and we wonder whether the man is truly as philanthropic and good as his ideal seems or is he as self serving as he sometimes appears?

Although the book is told from Harada’s perspective Dysart never quite leaves you confident that you should be rooting exclusively for him. Should he be stopped? Or does his means justify the ends?

What makes this such a great story is that Dysart has balanced the antagonists so well that nobody seems to be explicitly evil aside from a certain corporation out exclusively for profit, which illustrates the nobility behind Harada’s ideal while underscoring the capitalist nature of our society. There are so many different aspects to this story; the concept of artificial intelligence becoming sentient, does anybody ever truly have free will, the balance of sacrifice for progression of the greater good. What devils do you have to make a deal with?

When it comes to everybody else in this book you have to wonder whether you should root for anyone.

Joshua Dysart’s writing will educate you, encouraging you to think and develop yourself all while delivering one of the greatest stories in comics. That sentence was as true for Harbinger as it is for Imperium. He has a unique ability to distill a greater political and ideological idea down into a story that will never overwhelm a reader but also leaves you thinking about the nature of the politics involved long after the cover has been closed.

Whether this story is one told from the villain’s perspective as he tries to achieve his goals having convinced his followers they are doing the right thing or if it is story about a hero who faces insurmountable odds as he tries to make the world a better place will differ on how you read the book.

And that, for me, makes it an utter masterpiece.

This series is the subject of today’s Underrated because I had long ehard how brilliant the story was from others who have read the book so I ended up reading the full run in almost a single sitting. And I realized that I seldom hear people talk about Valiant’s Harbinger comics, or Toyo Harada. I hope that changes.

Underrated: Harbinger

I was going to write about Imperium this week, but I haven’t finished the hardcover book I picked up Wednesday from my LCS. So instead of rushing a column on a book that deserves a lot more attention than I’d have time to give it, I decided to rerun a column about the series preceeding Imperium.


This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: the comic book publisher Harbinger


When Valiant Entertainment relaunched in 2012, one of the four books that the publisher started with was Harbinger. Arguably one of Valiant’s signature books, the original series launched in the 90’s with the publisher’s first incarnation. I have never read the 90’s series in full, but have dabbled in an issue here or there (specifically the two that contained chapters of the multi-book crossover Unity). I have, however, read the entirety of the modern Harbinger run, and own a smattering of individual comics and the three deluxe hardcovers containing the story; Harbinger Deluxe Edition One, Harbinger  Deluxe Edition  Two and Harbinger Wars 
Deluxe Edition. The latter also contains four issues of Bloodshot that tie into the Harbinger Wars miniseries – also four issues. The series is also collected in trade paperback as well (though I have no idea how many volumes). I realize I’m rambling at this point, so I’ll get back on to the subject at hand.

It would be easy to compare Harbinger to the various X-Men comics Marvel has released through the years; both feature teenagers with powers originating from a a genetic difference (although Valiant’s psiots need to be activated through risky painful procedures or times of extreme stress whereas Marvel’s mutants just need to hit puberty), and both have a villain character who is more complicated than you would initially expect. While the comparison is justified, it also does a disservice to the Harbinger comics to write them off as another publisher’s X-Men imitation.

Especially because Joshua Dysart’s run on the series (which also include Imperium, which I have inexplicably not finished yet) deals with some really interesting concepts that you don’t often find elsewhere. It’s for this reason that I hold his run as some of the very best team based comics that been published in the last ten years (honestly, I’d also go so far as to say that I’ve ever read).

The characters are wonderfully deep and complex, some are flawed and broken, searching for a redemption that may never come; others are desperately trying to make the world a better place no matter the cost; one wants to destroy a shadowy organization that may or may not have more worldly influence than they should regardless of the cost; and one wants to be a bonafide superhero in a world in which right and wrong and good and evil are not always on the same side. The series, at its most simple description, can be boiled down to two incredibly power psiots, Peter Stanchek and Toyo Harada having a disagreement, and at the outset you know who fills the typical hero/villain positions, but after a few issues you’ll begin to question who you should root for.

Should you root for anyone?

Dysart’s story is a wondrous thing. In giving us a gripping and emotional tale about people who just happen to be caught up in events, people who are just reacting – and not always well – to the stimuli around them, some of whom are super powered, he also leaves us questioning the traditional role of the hero and villain. Much like Magneto and Professor X were allegories for Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 60’s, Stanchek and Harada represent the world we live in today; shades of grey where ethically and morally questionable decisions are made by the people we’re supposed to hold in high esteem. Dysart uses these characters to remind us that beneath the power, the people we follow are just as flawed as the next person. Stanchek, with his position as a hero within the book, has made some pretty fucking awful decisions – ones where forgiveness shouldn’t be given lightly – but then is Harada any better?

We’re only scratching the surface here (and honestly, only the first trade or so if you’re going the non-deluxe route), and Dysart doesn’t let up throughout the run. His writing will educate you, encouraging you to think and develop yourself all while delivering one of the greatest stories in comics.

I don’t mean to discount the artistic contributions to the book, and it may seem that I have, but Harbinger, like almost every Valiant book, features some consistently brilliant artwork by artists, colourists and letterers that will have you asking why you hadn’t heard of them before (since the series wrapped, some have gone on to become more familiar to comic fans in general). I remember reading the comics for the first time and being in awe of what I was seeing; Harbinger remains one of the only series which I have framed on my wall simply because the interlocking covers to issues 7-10 by Mico Suayan are so damn pretty.

The art more than balances the story, which is an impressive feat.

This series is the subject of today’s Underrated because I had forgotten how amazing it was until I sat down and read the full run in almost a single sitting. And I realized that I seldom hear people talk about Valiant’s Harbinger comics, or Toyo Harada. With one of the most complex and interesting characters in the medium getting a six issue miniseries this year, I hope that changes.

Do yourselves a favour, add The Life and Death of Toyo Harada to your pull list now. Preorder the series because, and I say this after having read the first issue already, it’s going to be amazing.


As an addendum to this column, I’d like to say that The Life and Death of Toyo Harada was every bit as good as I hoped. Yes, I am aware that reading the end before the middle isn’t always ideal, but c’est la vie.

Faith Stars in Valiant’s First Young Adult Novel

Valiant Entertainment and HarperCollins Publishers imprint Balzer + Bray have announced a new series of young adult novels featuring Valiant comics characters, kicking off in Spring 2020 with Faith: Taking Flight by #1 New York Times bestselling author Julie Murphy

Faith: Taking Flight is the story of Faith Herbert, a regular teen, who, when she’s not hanging out with her two best friends, Matt and Ches, is volunteering at the local animal shelter or obsessing over the long-running teen drama The Grove. So far, her senior year has been spent trying to sort out her feelings for her maybe-crush Johnny and making plans to stay close to her Grandma Lou after graduation. Of course, there’s also that small matter of recently discovering that she can fly… and a super cool (to say the least!) new girl in town, one who Faith never in her wildest dreams ever thought she would get to meet.

Faith: Taking Flight

Preview: Faith: Dreamside TPB

FAITH: DREAMSIDE TBD

Written by JODY HOUSER
Art by MJ KIM, FRANCIS PORTELA
Colors by JORDIE BELLAIRE, ANDREW DALHOUSE
Letters by DAVE SHARPE
Cover by MARGUERITE SAUVAGE
On sale February 27, 2019

Even before Faith Herbert, AKA Zephyr, gained the power of flight, joined the Harbinger Renegades, and soared through the skies of the Valiant Universe, deep down she was always a hero at heart. But what’s a hero to do in the face of a foe that exists only in nightmares? Face them head-on, of course! To protect the dreams of her teammate, Animalia, Faith must venture into a fantastical new realm the likes of which we’ve never seen…and she’ll need some help from the world’s premiere parapsychologist, Doctor Mirage, to make it back with her subconscious mind still intact!

Uncover the secrets of the Dreamside as writer extraordinaire Jody Houser (FAITH, Stranger Things)and rising star MJ Kim (FAITH’S WINTER WONDERLAND SPECIAL #1) continue the adventures of the high-flying icon that Uproxx calls “A joy to read!”

Collecting FAITH: DREAMSIDE #1-4, FAITH’S WINTER WONDERLAND SPECIAL #1

FAITH: DREAMSIDE TBD

Underrated: Harbinger

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: the comic book publisher Harbinger


When Valiant Entertainment relaunched in 2012, one of the four books that the publisher started with was Harbinger. Arguably one of Valiant’s signature books, the original series launched in the 90’s with the publisher’s first incarnation. I have never read the 90’s series in full, but have dabbled in an issue here or there (specifically the two that contained chapters of the multi-book crossover Unity). I have, however, read the entirety of the modern Harbinger run, and own a smattering of individual comics and the three deluxe hardcovers containing the story; Harbinger Deluxe Edition One, Harbinger  Deluxe Edition  Two and Harbinger Wars 
Deluxe Edition. The latter also contains four issues of Bloodshot that tie into the Harbinger Wars miniseries – also four issues. The series is also collected in trade paperback as well (though I have no idea how many volumes). I realize I’m rambling at this point, so I’ll get back on to the subject at hand.

It would be easy to compare Harbinger to the various X-Men comics Marvel has released through the years; both feature teenagers with powers originating from a a genetic difference (although Valiant’s psiots need to be activated through risky painful procedures or times of extreme stress whereas Marvel’s mutants just need to hit puberty), and both have a villain character who is more complicated than you would initially expect. While the comparison is justified, it also does a disservice to the Harbinger comics to write them off as another publisher’s X-Men imitation.

Especially because Joshua Dysart’s run on the series (which also include Imperium, which I have inexplicably not finished yet) deals with some really interesting concepts that you don’t often find elsewhere. It’s for this reason that I hold his run as some of the very best team based comics that been published in the last ten years (honestly, I’d also go so far as to say that I’ve ever read).

The characters are wonderfully deep and complex, some are flawed and broken, searching for a redemption that may never come; others are desperately trying to make the world a better place no matter the cost; one wants to destroy a shadowy organization that may or may not have more worldly influence than they should regardless of the cost; and one wants to be a bonafide superhero in a world in which right and wrong and good and evil are not always on the same side. The series, at its most simple description, can be boiled down to two incredibly power psiots, Peter Stanchek and Toyo Harada having a disagreement, and at the outset you know who fills the typical hero/villain positions, but after a few issues you’ll begin to question who you should root for.

Should you root for anyone?

Dysart’s story is a wondrous thing. In giving us a gripping and emotional tale about people who just happen to be caught up in events, people who are just reacting – and not always well – to the stimuli around them, some of whom are super powered, he also leaves us questioning the traditional role of the hero and villain. Much like Magneto and Professor X were allegories for Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 60’s, Stanchek and Harada represent the world we live in today; shades of grey where ethically and morally questionable decisions are made by the people we’re supposed to hold in high esteem. Dysart uses these characters to remind us that beneath the power, the people we follow are just as flawed as the next person. Stanchek, with his position as a hero within the book, has made some pretty fucking awful decisions – ones where forgiveness shouldn’t be given lightly – but then is Harada any better?

We’re only scratching the surface here (and honestly, only the first trade or so if you’re going the non-deluxe route), and Dysart doesn’t let up throughout the run. His writing will educate you, encouraging you to think and develop yourself all while delivering one of the greatest stories in comics.

I don’t mean to discount the artistic contributions to the book, and it may seem that I have, but Harbinger, like almost every Valiant book, features some consistently brilliant artwork by artists, colourists and letterers that will have you asking why you hadn’t heard of them before (since the series wrapped, some have gone on to become more familiar to comic fans in general). I remember reading the comics for the first time and being in awe of what I was seeing; Harbinger remains one of the only series which I have framed on my wall simply because the interlocking covers to issues 7-10 by Mico Suayan are so damn pretty.

The art more than balances the story, which is an impressive feat.

This series is the subject of today’s Underrated because I had forgotten how amazing it was until I sat down and read the full run in almost a single sitting. And I realized that I seldom hear people talk about Valiant’s Harbinger comics, or Toyo Harada. With one of the most complex and interesting characters in the medium getting a six issue miniseries this year, I hope that changes.

Do yourselves a favour, add The Life and Death of Toyo Harada to your pull list now. Preorder the series because, and I say this after having read the first issue already, it’s going to be amazing.

Review: Faith: Dreamside #3

FAITH_DS_003_COVER-A_SAUVAGEWhat dreams may come?

Welcome to the Dreamside, a magical realm where oddities dwell and imaginations thrive. But is this unusual new paradise truly all that it seems on the surface? Together, Faith and Doctor Mirage are about to find that behind the frills and fantasy, there may lurk nightmares…and they’re hunting for Animalia!

Jody Houser‘s run on Faith has been long – twenty issues over two four part mini series and a twelve issue ongoing, not counting Faith: Dreamside  and I can honestly say I have enjoyed each and every issue since the first miniseries flew off the shelves and into my hands. Some more than others, but not one has been a waste of my $4.

When it comes to the visuals that have accompanied Houser’s writing, the same isn’t quite as true. Most of the art I’ve thoroughly enjoyed, but some has been a touch hit or miss for me – but then art is always subjective, and where I may not find some of the comics to be as appealing to the eye as others, that doesn’t mean that you will agree with me.

Case in point, this issue. The art is technically very solid; MJ Kim uses an anime inspired style for much of the comic, which is very in keeping with the story and the events occurring on the page, and while the style usually wouldn’t quite be my cup of tea, I do appreciate its use in this issue as it highlights certain aspects of the Dreamside. As Faith and Doctor Mirage traverse the land of the dead, they’re exposed to a world where the natural rules don’t always apply – is the land inspired by those living within it, or does this part of the Dreamside just happen to be oddly bright and pleasant? The question is answered, at least visually, within the first few pages of the comic, and it’s a revelation  that I really enjoyed – and probably found it far more surprising than I really should have, if I am being completely honest.

Faith: Dreamsidehas become a fun diversion in the Valiant Universe after the rather chaotic and at times lackluster results of Harbinger Wars II, reminding fans and readers alike just what the company is capable of when not trying to write the next Epic Crossover event. Within this issue we see some brilliantly subtle nods to pop culture (and some pretty overt ones as befits the characters of Faith and Animalia), a condensed yet suitably epic journey and confrontation with a conclusion that sets up the fourth and final issue in the series magnificently. I can honestly say I didn’t expect to enjoy this story as much as I currently am.

Story: Jody Houser Art: MJ Kim
Colours: Jordie Bellaire Letters: Dave Sharpe
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.2 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Faith Deluxe Edition Book 1 HC

FAITH DELUXE EDITION BOOK 1 HC

Written by JODY HOUSER and JOSHUA DYSART
Art by FRANCIS PORTELA, PERE PÉREZ, MARGUERITE SAUVAGE, ROBERT GILL,
and ANDREW DALHOUSE
Cover by MARGUERITE SAUVAGE

Faith begins!

Orphaned at a young age, Faith Herbert – a psionically gifted “psiot” discovered by the Harbinger Foundation – has always aspired to greatness. But now this once-ordinary teenager is taking control of her destiny and becoming the hard-hitting hero she’s always known she can be – complete with a mild-mannered secret identity, unsuspecting colleagues, and a day job as a reporter that routinely throws her into harm’s way! She’ll tackle every obstacle in her path with confidence – robots, aliens, monsters…and even her very first super-villain arch-nemesis bent on snuffing her out once and for all!

Collecting FAITH (LIMITED SERIES) #1-4, FAITH (ONGOING SERIES) #1-8, HARBINGER: FAITH #0 from Joshua Dysart (HARBINGER) and artist Robert Gill (BOOK OF DEATH), and A&A: THE ADVENTURES OF ARCHER & ARMSTRONG #5 from writer Rafer Roberts (HARBINGER RENEGADE) and artist Mike Norton (QUANTUM AND WOODY). Plus, more than 20 pages of rarely seen art and extras!

$49.99 | 368 pgs. | T+ | On Sale OCTOBER 31st
HARDCOVER | ISBN: 978-1-68215-285-0

Preview: Faith: Dreamside #2

FAITH: DREAMSIDE #2 (of 4)

Written by JODY HOUSER
Art by MJ KIM
Colors by JORDIE BELLAIRE
Letters by DAVE SHARPE
Cover A by MARGUERITE SAUVAGE
Cover B by SIBYLLINE MEYNET
Pre-Order Edition by DAVID LAFUENTE

Don’t go to sleep…

Something strange in your neighborhood? Renowned ghost whisperer Shan Fong Mirage knows how to fix it. But it’s going to take more than stories of supernatural-tinged nightmares to convince her that the young psiot Animalia truly needs her spiritual guidance… Now it’s up to Faith, L.A.’s highest-flying hero and Doctor Mirage’s number one fangirl, to get the world’s leading parapsychologist to take the case!

Renowned writer Jody Houser (Doctor Who) and rising star MJ Kim (FAITH’S WINTER WONDERLAND SPECIAL #1) prepare Valiant’s fan-favorite defender for an adventure through the land of dreams!

$3.99 | 32 pgs. |  T+ | On Sale OCTOBER 31st

Review: Faith: Dreamside #1

FAITH_DS_001_COVER-A_SAUVAGEEven before Faith Herbert, AKA Zephyr, gained the power of flight, joined the Harbinger Renegades, and soared through the skies of the Valiant Universe, deep down she was always a hero at heart. But what’s a hero to do in the face of a foe that exists only in nightmares? Face them head-on, of course! To protect the dreams of her teammate, Animalia, Faith must venture into a fantastical new realm the likes of which we’ve never seen…and she’ll need some help from the world’s premiere parapsychologist, Dr. Mirage, to make it back with her subconscious mind still intact!

One of my favourite things about Faith, and specifically how Jody Houser writes her, is that there is a genuine sense of happiness that she is a superhero. Which gives this comic a really uplifting vibe as Faith’s positivity and optimism is still very much present and a part of her character despite the dark times she’s going through (y’know, being framed for murder and all isn’t overly fun).

Faith was one of the series that I was most excited to read when it was being published, and Houser has been able to effortlessly recapture everything I loved about that series in one issue. For those of you who, like me, missed Faith’s solo series (and the Future Force spin off) then you’re going to be super happy with this comic’s direction. You’ll also be happy with MJ Kim‘s artwork. Kim’s style is suite perfectly toward the highflying superhero, and easily veers from a wide eyed innocence to panels that convey more emotional weight than you would expect given the text around them.

And this is all in the first half of the book (it gets better, too, but you’ll need to read that for yourself).

Faith: Dreamside #1 took me by surprise when I read it (so much so that it took me a week to finally sort my thoughts out on it). I always try to go into each comic without any expectations, but I’m only human – Dreamside exceeded the expectations I had for it. This book was a genuine pleasure to read from cover to cover, and reminded me once again why I love reading comics.

Story: Jody Houser Art: MJ Kim
Colours: Jordie Bellaire Letters: Dave Sharpe
Story: 8.9 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Faith: Dreamside #1

FAITH: DREAMSIDE #1 (of 4)

Written by JODY HOUSER
Art by MJ KIM
Colors by JORDIE BELLAIRE
Letters by DAVE SHARPE
Cover A by MARGUERITE SAUVAGE
Cover B by SIBYLLINE MEYNET
Variant Cover by ADAM POLLINA
Blank Cover Also Available
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On Sale SEPTEMBER 26

ALL-NEW SERIES! Faith enters a realm previously unseen!

Even before Faith Herbert, AKA Zephyr, gained the power of flight, joined the Harbinger Renegades, and soared through the skies of the Valiant Universe, deep down she was always a hero at heart. But what’s a hero to do in the face of a foe that exists only in nightmares? Face them head-on, of course! To protect the dreams of her teammate, Animalia, Faith must venture into a fantastical new realm the likes of which we’ve never seen…and she’ll need some help from the world’s premiere parapsychologist, Dr. Mirage, to make it back with her subconscious mind still intact!

This fall, uncover the secrets of the Dreamside as writer extraordinaire Jody Houser (FAITH, Star Wars: Thrawn) and rising star MJ Kim (FAITH’S WINTER WONDERLAND SPECIAL #1) continue the adventures of the high-flying icon that Uproxx calls “A joy to read!”

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