Tag Archives: harbinger

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.

Around the Tubes

Harbinger

It was new comic book day yesterday! What’d everyone get? What’d you like? What’d you dislike? Sound off in the comments below!

The Beat – A Year of Free Comics: Adventuring and making friends in A Nice Long Walk – Free comics!

Calgary Herald – High suicide rates for Indigenous youths sparks action from Alberta government – A good use of comics to try to do some good in the world.

The Hollywood Reporter – Paramount Picks Up Comic Book Movie ‘Harbinger’ From Sony – Interesting move.

Reviews

IGN – Batman #78
Blog Critics –
King of King Court
Newsarama –
Powers of X #4
The Beat –
The Red Zone: An Earthquake Story
Comics Bulletin –
Sabrina the Teenage Witch #5

Review: Harbinger Wars 2 Aftermath #1

HW2_AFTERMATH_001_COVER-A_ALLENThe power’s back online and the fighting is over…but who are the real victors of Harbinger Wars 2, and what was truly lost in the carnage? For those who survived the terrible onslaught – and who must now witness the devastating aftereffects of their actions – will there ever be peace again?

That the version of Harbinger Wars 2 we got differed from the version that was hinted toward in the years and months prior to the first issues (months that included a company buyout and some staff turnover), shouldn’t be in doubt. Regardless of what the intended direction for the story was, and how good that may or may not have been, we didn’t get that story. Instead Harbinger Wars 2 turned out to be a chaotic event with genuine consequences for the Valiant universe, but it was an event that didn’t quite live up to the hype. Harbinger Wars 2: Aftermath does a little to redeem the story, allowing the events of the finale to breath, but is far from required reading. Especially if you didn’t read Harbinger Wars 2. 

Despite not being required reading this isn’t a bad comic, but nor is it anything special. Harbinger Wars 2 Aftermath #1is a perfectly average comic that has some moments that trend toward the quality you’d expect of this creative team, but those moments don’t quite balance out the missteps in the art or the plot.

To be clear this isn’t a bad comic, and it is worth reading – if you have read the event. If not? The parts of this comic that will prove relevant in future series will doubtless be recapped within those comics which makes this a comic for completists and collectors, and not necessarily one for everybody else.

Story: Matt Kindt Art: Adam Polina
Colors: Diego Rodriguez Letters: Dave Sharpe
Story: 6.8 Art: 7.4 Overall: 7.1
Recommendation: Read if you’ve read the event, Pass if you haven’t

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Harbinger Wars 2 #2

HW2_002_COVER-A_JONESFrom East to West, the nation has been cleaved down the middle as Livewire’s defensive attack on the U.S. power grid envelops America in darkness and sets the stage for the biggest clash of powers ever witnessed… On one side, Peter Stanchek’s ragtag team of Renegades – alongside their newly activated army of untrained and wildly unstable psiots – ready themselves for an unsparing firefight with H.A.R.D. Corps and the agents of Omen. On the other, Ninjak and Bloodshot prepare to enter Livewire’s domain inside blacked-out Los Angeles. But as the casualties pile up and the losses mount on both sides, none of them will be ready to confront the full fury of raw power personified as X-O Manowar makes his long-awaited return after a year of self-imposed exile among the stars…and delivers a single concussive strike that will send shockwaves across the whole of the Valiant Universe!

Harbinger Wars 2 is the long awaited, and much hyped, sequel to Valiant’s first event series, coincidentally named Harbinger Wars. Needless to say, there are a lot of expectations leveled against the series from Valiant fans, and the question of whether or not the series will meet those expectations remains up in the air.

On the surface, there’s very little wrong with the comic. Certainly nothing that readers who aren’t intimately familiar with the publishers characters will notice, but for those who have read certain series (Harbinger, Imperium, Harbinger Renegade) there may be issues with the specific actions of a certain character. Now, there may be a specific answer to this behaviour that we’ll see prior to the conclusion of the story, but as it stands… it makes no sense as to why a man who can fly as easily as you or I eat would be running anywhere. As it stands, I’m giving Matt Kindt the benefit of the doubt here, but one can claim that there’s a lack of understanding of the character, and fairly so based upon what we’ve seen so far, but the story isn’t over yet – and Kindt has proven himself worthy of patience.

Where you don’t need patience, however, is with the artwork. But with an artistic team of the calibre that this book holds, one shouldn’t be surprised by this. Tomas Giorello and Renato Guedes, who share the line-work duties, are joined by colourist Diego Rodriguez and letterer Dave Sharpe. This book is an utterly beautiful comic, and where one can find issues with the story and plot, one cannot fault the art or presentation of the book.

The story may be struggling, but if you’re looking for a reason to buy this book, it’s the art. Matt Kindt, and Valiant, have earned enough trust over the years that one dodgy book which, in fairness, is still a better than average read – Valiant have a strong reputation for a reason, and the second issue of their big summer event isn’t their best offering this week. It happens. Just not typically to this publisher.

Story: Matt Kindt Art: Tomas Giorello and Renato Guedes
Colourist: Diego Rodriguez Letters: Dave Sharpe
Story: 7 Art: 9.2 Overall: 8.1 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Harbinger Wars Compendium TPB

HARBINGER WARS COMPENDIUM TPB

Written by JOSHUA DYSART and DUANE SWIERCZYNSKI
Art by KHARI EVANS, MANUEL GARCIA, CLAYTON HENRY, and PERE PÉREZ with PHIL BRIONES, MATTHEW CLARK, CLAYTON CRAIN, LEE GARBETT, TREVOR HAIRSINE, BARRY KITSON, LEWIS LAROSA, ARTURO LOZZI, JIM MUNIZ, and MICO SUAYAN
Cover by CLAYTON HENRY (MAR182017)

Presenting the best-selling crossover event that redefined the Valiant Universe for a new generation, now in the most complete collection yet. From the first salvo all the way to the very last shot, follow the complete saga from its beginning in the first issues of HARBINGER and BLOODSHOT and see what set them on the road to a collision in the pages of HARBINGER WARS!

When an untrained and undisciplined team of super-powered test subjects escape from Project Rising Spirit and onto the Vegas Strip, Bloodshot and the Harbinger Renegades will find themselves locked in battle against a deadly succession of opponents – and each other. As the combined forces of the H.A.R.D. Corps, Generation Zero, and omega-level telekinetic Toyo Harada all descend on Las Vegas to vie for the control of Rising Spirit’s deadliest assets, the world is about to discover the shocking price of an all-out superhuman conflict…and no one will escape unscathed. Who will survive the Harbinger Wars?

From acclaimed writers Joshua Dysart (HARBINGER) and Duane Swierczynski (BLOODSHOT) and an all-star cast of artists including Clayton Henry (ARCHER & ARMSTRONG), Khari Evans (IMPERIUM), Manuel Garcia (Black Widow), Barry Kitson (Fantastic Four), and more!

Collecting HARBINGER (2012) #1-14, BLOODSHOT (2012) #1-13, and HARBINGER WARS #1-4.

$59.99 | 768 pgs. | T+
TRADE PAPERBACK | ISBN: 978-1-68215-261-4

Review: Valiant Free Comic Book Day Shadowman Special

VALIANT_FCBD_2018_COVER_DELATORRESuperstar writer Andy Diggle and high-octane artist Stephen Segovia present an all-new introduction to Shadowman as Jack Boniface reemerges from the Deadside to reclaim his birthright… and forges a new legend of magic, might, and malice for the long-awaited return of Valiant’s most-demanded hero! Then, New York Times best-selling writer Matt Kindt and legendary artist Ariel Olivetti return Aric of Dacia to Earth in X-O Manowar – just in time for the seismic comics event of 2018! Finally, Academy Award-nominated writer Eric Heisserer and artists Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín plunge the whole of the Valiant Universe into an epic power struggle in the prelude to Harbinger Wars 2!

If you pick up Valiant‘s 2018 Free Comic Book Day release on May 5th, you’ll be treated to snippets from three different Valiant series. Snippets from comics already published, but none of which have more than two issues out in the arc you would be starting with if you were to look further into the respective series after picking this taster up, and aside from the first issue of Shadowman all the comics this Free Comic Book Day Special encourages you to pick up have been released within the last couple of weeks.

Regardless, on to the stories.

The first taster you will get comes in the form of Shadowman. With seven pages from the first issue you get juuuuust enough to encourage you to go hunting for the first and second issues in the newly relaunched series, but not quite enough of the story that will make you feel like paying for the first issue is a waste of money. Andy Diggle (writer), Stephen Segovia (art) and Ulises Arreola (colours) have already delivered two issues of a high quality, and the seven pages you’ll see here are indicative of that. You can find reviews of the first issue here and the second here. For those interested, the first half of Black Sabbath’s first album makes an excellent audio companion (I say first half because I was listening to it on vinyl).

VALIANT_FCBD_2018_004

Up next is an excerpt from X-O Manowar #14, which was reviewed here. This arc finds Aric of Dacia returning to Earth after a lengthy absence (possibly around two years) only to discover that things have moved on without him. But you don’t get that in this six page preview, you only get to see part of his journey from deep space back to Earth. Matt Kindt‘s  script is given a stunning visual treatment by Ariel Olivetti, and although there were some questionable backgrounds in the rest of the comic, what you get here is an utterly fantastic piece of art. Audio companion: the second half of Black Sabbath’s first album.

Finally there are the first six pages of Harbinger Wars II: Prelude #1, a comic that was released May 2nd (yes, this week), which you can find a full review of here. Valiant’s big summer event will kick off next month, and this preview will give you a perfect taste of what Eric HeissererRaul Allen and Patricia Martin have in store for you in the rest of the prelude comic. Audio companion: silence, because the record player doesn’t repeat the album. It was oddly fitting, however.

For those hoping for a new short story starring Shadowman in the same vein as last year’s X-O Manowar FCBD Special you will be disappointed as the comic is essentially just an extended print based preview of three of Valiant’s current series. Which, ironically enough, is perfect for Free Comic Book Day and those who may not already be reading all three of these series like myself. If you see this in your comic shop on Saturday, and you’re at all curious about Valiant, then this is a must… uh… pick up.

Review: Harbinger Renegade #8

As “MASSACRE” continues to tear the Harbinger Renegades apart, the battle lines reveal themselves… On one side, the fugitive psiot named Alexander Solomon and the concussive killers of the H.A.R.D. Corps…and on the other, the Harbinger Renegades and a growing army of newly activated recruits – untrained, unpredictable and potentially unstable. As their paths converge toward an inescapable confrontation, Peter Stanchek will be forced to make an impossible decision that will change the destiny of everyone in the Valiant Universe…and lay the fault lines for HARBINGER WARS 2!

Here’s the thing with this comic – and I apologize for derailing the review right off the bat – I read this comic when I needed a distraction from some personal events (that had a positive outcome), and as a result of that my views on this issue may be a little rose coloured. However despite that I still feel comfortable in saying that Harbinger Renegade #8 is one of the better issues in Rafer Roberts run on the series.

After the events of issue five’s Massacre, we got to see a little fall out last issue among the Renegades, but Harbinger Renegade #8 really seems to kick into gear regarding the story as the young psiots start doing more than just talking about reacting to the events in Rook. Although it feels like a long time coming (especially with issue six’s interlude), the pacing actually feels very right. I may have complained about the pacing before (possibly in the last review, maybe just online), but I’m happy to say that I was quite wrong – Rafer Roberts clearly had a plan and I should have had more faith (pun unintended); he’s certainly earned that from his previous work.

Although I’m still not overly fond of Darrick Robertson‘s art style (which is entirely personal preference), it seems a bit more fluid and less phoned in this issue than in the previous one – the question should be asked whether I dislike his art less because Roberts story, pacing and dialogue are much stronger in comparison to Harbinger Renegade #7, or whether Robertson is simply having a better showing the eighth issue.

Whether you read this series in trade form or in single issues, we’re starting to see a nice build up toward Valiant’s 2018 mega event Harbinger Wars 2, and if you’re a Valiant fan then I’d highly advise you to be keeping tabs on the events in this series.

Overall this is a really enjoyable read that builds upon the catastrophic events of issue five in a very natural way; nothing seems forced or out of the natural flow of the story, and while I’m still not completely on board with with art it has improved. A better comic than the previous issue, and a perfect distraction when I needed one the most – and isn’t that what comics should do? Help us forget the real world for twenty or thirty minutes?

Story: Rafer Roberts Art: Darrick Robertson
Inker: Tom Palmer Colourist: Diego Rodriguez
Story: 8.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a Free copy for review

Spoiler Free Review: Harbinger Renegade #5

HR_005_COVER-A_ROBERTSON“Toyo Harada’s former protege – Alexander Solomon, a “psiot” with the ability to predict and analyze potential futures – has been waiting for this moment. With the Harbinger Renegades – Peter Stanchek, Faith, Kris Hathaway, and Torque – now reunited as a result of his covert manipulations, his ultimate gambit can now begin. But he’s not the only one who has been watching. Major Charlie Palmer has just re-assigned a new division of the militarized psiot hunters codenamed H.A.R.D. Corps to active duty…and they’re about to bring a torrent of blood and calamity roaring into the streets of a major American metropolis for an all-out firefight.

The Harbinger Renegades. Livewire. Alexander Solomon. Generation Zero. Toyo Harada. Secret Weapons. Imperium. None of them are safe…and, when the smoke clears, a pivotal Valiant hero will become the first sacrifice of the massive Harbinger War that is to come.”

I will tell you right now: I was really excited to read this issue – so much so that I literally dropped the other features (because I frequently have multiple balls in the air at once) to read the comic. Understandably, Valiant are extremely cautious about spoilers for this issue, so I won’t reveal anything about the story itself beyond the preview text above. However, it will certainly help your enjoyment of the comic if you’re familiar with some, or all, of the comics and characters mentioned above (The Harbinger Renegades. Livewire. Alexander Solomon. Generation Zero. Toyo Harada. Secret Weapons. Imperium.)

HR_005_COVER_ADVISORY-OVERLAP

The comic comes with this as a wrap around cover to warn the audience as to the content inside.

So what can I say about this comic? Well it was perfectly okayRafer Roberts has written a story doesn’t quite live up to the hype generated by the machine Valiant set in motion for Harbinger Renegade #5, although it’s pretty solid, and honestly I needed multiple readings to really get the most out of it. Obviously I can’t tell you why without risking the spoilers – nor can I tell you some of the reasons I felt the issue didn’t work. Instead, I’ll move on. Artistically, the comic isn’t anything spectacular, but nor is it unremarkable; it’s just about good enough to serve the story without any major hiccups (but again I can’t discuss those). Essentially, where as a good story can lift a comic where the art struggles and vice versa, both story and art are on the same level here; they’re both just hovering between okay and good.

Out of respect for Valiant and their wishes I’ve avoided spoilers, probably far more than I needed to, so what I can say is limited. At the end of the day, this is the weakest of the five Renegade books that have been released thus far, which is a shame given the amount of push that Valiant have out behind it. Though I do wonder if that is a result of Harbinger Renegade #5 simply being a book that didn’t deliver verses it being a comic that just wasn’t able to live up to the hype. I’m edging toward the latter.

If you’re a Valiant fan, whether of the publisher in general or of this property, then you’re going to want to read this. Be prepared for it to be a little disappointing given all the buzz, but I also expect this to fly off the shelves because of the warning on the cover.

Story: Rafer Roberts Art: Darick Robertson
Inks: Richard Clark Colours: Diego Rodriguez
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.25 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

Unboxing: June’s Comic of the Month Club

Comic of the Month Club is a new monthly comic subscription box for comic book fans everywhere. Subscribers receive 8-9 personally curated comics every month and fill out a preference form as to what they’re interested in.

There’s five different types of boxes ranging in cost from $9.99 on up to about $30. This is the high end “Collector’s Edition x2” version of the box.

You can subscribe now. Please include “Graphic Policy” in the referral space. You as a subscriber receive an extra bonus and we do get something in return.

This month’s comics with “rough value.”
The Amazing Spider-Man #173 (1977) – $5
The Uncanny X-Men #148 (1981) – $7
Teen Titans #43 (1973) – $4
Marvel Two in One The Thing and Iron Man #97 (1982) – $4
Action Comics #590 (1987) – $2
Action Comics #658 (1990) – $2
JSA #34 (2002) – $1
JSA #39 (2002) – $1
Harbinger #18 (1993) – $1

Total: ~$28.00

 

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