Tag Archives: robbie rodriguez

Search for Hu banner ad

Review: The Harbinger #4

The Harbinger #4

Peter Stanchek has stepped up for Psiot City and protected those in need as the Harbinger, but now it’s time to face down an enemy of his own making…The Renegade. After his clash against the state sanctioned oppressors known as The Warning, Peter must come to terms with his own past and take on a dangerous fight that will push him to finally understand what it means to become a superhero in The Harbinger #4, the epic final chapter of the “be better” story.

The title of the first arc of The Harbinger is Be Better. One could make a cynical joke correlating the title to the quality of the book if one were so inclined, but for my money that wouldn’t be an accurate or fair statement. The Harbinger #4 caps off the first arc with a confrontation between the Harbinger and the Renegade – both men claiming to be Peter Stanchek. Writers Colin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing use this confrontation to really delve into the man that Stanchek was before the events of this series, and aren’t afraid to look at the character with a frank honesty. The result this introspection leaves isn’t entirely comfortable as we remember (or find out if you’re just starting the story with The Harbinger) what Stanchek has done in the past. Kelly and Lanzing reveal a lot through the Harbinger’s internal narration, and the struggle between that character and the Renegade.

This issue is a bit more cerebral in its content than the previous issues, but that doesn’t mean that Robbie Rodriguez and Rico Renzi (artist and colourist respectively) are bereft of exciting imagery to delight your eyes, because the nature of Peter Stanchek’s powers enable you to create a brightly diverse mindscape as a backdrop to the action as the story comes to its conclusion. Because of the nature of the dual narrators, letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou uses some interesting speech bubble styles in the comic, differentiating between the disembodied voices with muted colours that feel like they’re about to be so much brighter.

The Harbinger #4 answers more questions than it asks, and while there are still lingering threads that Kelly and Lanzing are able to pull at for the rest of the series, the Be Better arc comes to a strong character driven conclusion that positions the book to be one of the rare “traditional” superhero comics from Valiant.

Story: Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing Art: Robbie Rodriguez
Colours: Rico Renzi Letters: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Story: 8.9 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Review: The Harbinger #3

The Harbinger #3

In The Harbinger #3, a daring rescue mission unravels the mystery of Peter Stanchek’s past… and paves the way for the powerful psiot’s future.

As he comes to terms with losing all of his memories, Peter Stanchek chooses to fight back, not just for himself but all of Psiot City who has been oppressed by a legal force known as The Warning. Wearing a brand-new mask and wielding a revelatory new understanding of his own powerful potentials, Peter takes on the mantle of The Harbinger to pave the way for the future of all psiots. But will he start something so dangerous even he can’t stop? 

We finally get to see Peter Stanchek suiting up as the Harbinger in this issue. While we’ve seen the costume on covers to the series already, I appreciate that the character didn’t immediately don the new mask in the first issue as we’ve been able to witness the mind-wiped Stanchek come to an understanding of why he should be wearing a mask; because people don’t trust Peter Stanchek. That admission helps to bring the redemption arc to it’s first check point as writers Colin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing use The Harbinger #3 as a way to introduce the Harbinger both to the audience and in some ways to the character himself.

The narration bubbles help propel the characterization forward, Stanchek talking his way through the events to somebody (thus far into the series, my guess has been a therapist) as the action plays out on the page. Robbie Rodriguez and Rico Renzi (artist and colourist respectively) have created a visual style for this comic that I find is best described as an organized chaos. There is a lot to process with this book, and there are pages where this can be overstimulating – a deliberate choice, because when I found my eyes losing what I was looking at it was when Stanchek’s powers were being used in ways I’d never thought of. There’s a scene earlier in the comic where Peter takes in a lot of information, and the artistic team are able to really emphasize just how much information he is sifting through because he’d rather not revert to old ways.

I’ve said before, but usually comics that can be a bit too chaotic aren’t usually my cup of tea, but The Harbinger has been the exception to that as for me, the art style makes total sense given the nature of the title character’s powers. Or maybe I’m just more open to different art styles now than I used to be; certainly a possibility, but ultimately the end result is that I’m really digging the visuals in this book.

Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou uses some interesting speech bubble styles in the comic, which serves as a moment of calm amidst the chaos as the bubbles pull you eyes to the text itself, giving you a chance to actually read the words. It’s not often you notice the lettering in a positive way given that the art form is often designed to not be noticed, but Otsmane-Elhaou is a master of his craft, and balances the book perfectly.

Valiant have hit three for three with The Harbinger #3, and whether Peter Stanchek’s new direction is here to stay or not is to be determined, but I’m loving the ride.

Story: Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing Art: Robbie Rodriguez
Colours: Rico Renzi Letters: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Story: 8.9 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus Comics

Review: The Harbinger #2

The Harbinger #2

Peter Stanchek is one of the most powerful psiots on the planet and one of the most feared as well, but now he’s lost his memories. As he confronts the only message left behind when he first awoke, demanding him to “BE BETTER”, Peter begins to understand the people of Psiot City need more than who he was. They need a superhero. With a new group of state sanctioned oppressors called The Warning bearing down on them, an all-new psiot raises his voice and spurs on a confrontation that only Peter Stanchek can hope to face.

I’m a sucker for a good redemption story. I’ve never made a secret of that, and so given the direction that writers Colin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing have taken with this story, it seems like it’s going to be a no-brainer for me to enjoy it. There’s not “but” coming, because I’ve really enjoyed the two issues I’ve read so far. Being able to say that comes as something of a relief given the pedigree of the Harbinger name and the weighty expectations I had as a result.

Robbie Rodriguez artwork is once again fantastic. The artist has a quality to his work that pulls you in and then throws you around. The comic looks like it is barely controlled chaos at times, reflecting what’s occurring in the story as Stanchek struggles to hold himself together. Colourist Rico Renzi enhances everything about the chaos, whilst also being able to soften the art as the story’s pacing slows down. The Harbinger #2 is a visually stimulating journey from beginning to end, and while there may be the odd page where you’re trying to make out what’s going on that really only adds to the book’s story. It’s strange to say that, because usually that’d be something I’m not a fan of, but here we are.

Stanchek’s superhero origin story continues, edging toward the inevitability of a new costume and mask emphasized by the reaction people within the story are having to his name alone (though how he’ll hide his identity with his powerset remains to be seen, so I’m curious just how much I’ll need to suspend my disbelief). So far, however, the story has been solid, and the new memory-free Stanchek means there’s a blank slate for the writers to create a new version of the Psiot without necessarily needing to keep to previous characterization.

The Harbinger as a series has delivered two really good issues so far, which is giving me a lot of excitement for to see how the creative team (rounded out by letterist extraordinaire Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou) continue Peter Stanchek’s journey. As I said, I’m a sucker for a redemption story, and so far this is delivering in every way.

Story: 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


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Review: The Harbinger #1

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


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Preview: Goddess Mode #2

Goddess Mode #2

(W) Zoe Quinn (A/CA) Robbi Rodriguez
In Shops: Jan 16, 2019
SRP: $3.99

Dragged violently into a secret world of monsters, magic, and metadata, Cassandra is asked to join the group of superpowered girls who saved her in their fight against the mysterious Daemons. But Cassandra has so many questions of her own to answer first-Why was she attacked? What is the omnipotent Hermeticorp up to? And most importantly, who are these girls anyway?

Goddess Mode #2

Marvel Reveals More Marvel Legacy Creative Teams and Covers

This fall, a new day will shine on the Marvel Universe with your favorite heroes, your favorite creators as Marvel launches its newest initiative Marvel Legacy!

Today, Marvel has announced the following creative teams and Legacy titles:

AVENGERS #672: WORLDS COLLIDE PART 1
Written by MARK WAID
Art by JESUS SAIZ

CHAMPIONS #13: WORLDS COLLIDE PART 2
Written by MARK WAID
Art by HUMBERTO RAMOS

SPIDER-GWEN #25: GWENOM PART 1
Written by JASON LATOUR
Art by ROBBIE RODRIGUEZ

LUKE CAGE #166: CAGED!
Written by DAVID F. WALKER
Art by NELSON BLAKE

For an in-depth look at our return to original numbering, fans can consult Marvel’s renumbering chart – a handy and easy way to jump on board with the Legacy content!

Almost American