“And what if God could be taught to be a better person?”
Wow, two blogs today, by both of us? Crazy.
D.C. here. Kay gave her review today on DC’s The Death of Superman, and I’m here to give you some insight into Valiant’s Harbinger:
Harbinger is the brainchild of writer Joshua Dysart; it is a series that details natural-born psiot Peter Stanchek’s crusade against power psiot leader Toyo Harada and his Harbinger Foundation. It is very much a David-and-Goliath tale with a very modern touch.
Valiant is uncharted territory for me, so I went into Harbinger with a relatively open mind. This blog covers the first two volumes, Omega Rising and Renegades.
Character development. Joshua Dysart had this in spades, especially in Volume 2. In each issue of Renegades, we get a deeper look at each member of Stanchek’s motley crew. Each character is written well with emphasis on their particular skills showing in their mannerisms and thoughts.
Peter Stanchek is a great character. He’s incredibly imperfect. He’s pathetic and self-loathing. He does foolish and terrible things that he envisions as being “out of love.” Peter is a teen that you just want to slap in the face…if he didn’t have his abilities. Peter is what many people are, and that makes him very believable, even with powers.
While Peter is special, he is nothing resembling the archetypal leader of a crusade against a monolithic man and his army. And he doesn’t have to be. Peter’s rage, ruthlessness, and raw power make him a force even Toyo Harada couldn’t ignore.
Faith Herbert is the dork you can’t help but love. What isn’t there to love? She seems remarkably comfortable with herself, in spite of her being fat and alone. Her obsession with all things related to geek culture is a treat for any comic fan. Faith is self-aware She is quickly shown as the shining light of optimism in this series. She is easily the most well-adjusted of the renegades. For all her optimism, her past and fears make her so down to earth. One can’t help but find Faith endearing.
Kris Hathaway, the only human member of Peter’s ragtag renegade group, shows how adept and necessary she is to the group, and to the world of Valiant. She truly is, as she stated, the butterfly in a storm. Regardless, her intelligence and gusto help her to contend with the best and worst in this world. Her role in this series is prophetic a simple, introspective question:
“What if God could be taught to be a better person?”
There are so many characters that shine in this, even the antagonists. Toyo Harada truly shows he is a complex and charismatic man. Harada is a champion, yet he is also a monster. He is humble, yet he is ignoble. Toyo Harada is so calculated, yet incredibly flawed and hypocritical in his goals of what can at best be seen as outright manipulation, and at worst, genocide.
Even though he is irredemable, Harada is an understandable and believable antagonist. He is the makings of a cult leader, and how he behaves and how his followers behave make this series even more disturbing and enticing. Harada’s follower Livewire laid out Harada’s and Peter’s roles perfectly: There needs to be a balance. And this series has it so far:
The cover art was phenomenal to me. So raw, with a perfect synergy with colors and pencils. The interior art, however, was MOSTLY great for the same reasons. You can tell when pencilers changed in some issues. Rotations in creative teams have always been a point of irritation for me before an arc or run is completed, but the cast of artists did not deviate terribly far throughout the first two volumes of Harbinger. As a whole, the art appeared effortless and effective.
Harbinger is a phenomenal read. There is nothing like having a protagonist, a morally gray and imperfect character, rise to what one can hope to be a hero. It is likewise frightening to see a cult army of this magnitude in the Harbinger Foundation. Joshua Dysart’s take on the protagonists and antagonists was very well done, especially when it came to tying each character’s psychologies to their own powers and skills.
I bought the remaining series in the mail, so I’m definitely looking forward to sharing where Dysart took this series.