Indie Comic Review: Harbinger #4

It looks like Valiant is looking to give each of its titles its own unique feel.  X-O is heavy on the action.  Bloodshot is full of intrigue.  Archer & Armstrong works in comedy.  And Harbinger is the most cerebral of the Valiant titles.  With minimal action, the tension comes from the chess-like machinations of Toyo Harada as he manipulates the world at large.

With each move, Harada appears to the outside world as being even more of a philanthropist.  However, the more the Peter Stanchek learns about what goes on behind the scens of the Harbinger Foundation, the more he realizes things are not at all how they seem!

The comic series Morning Glories follows an almost identical path.  There is a school which, to the outside world, appears to be one of the best in the county.  Students with special abilities are recruited and given plenty of incentives to attend.  However, it is quickly revealed that nothing is as it seems and the staff will stop at nothing to get what they want.  So yeah.  Morning Glories = Harbinger.

Except Harbinger is MUCH better.

Where Morning Glories makes illogical leaps and goes for shock value over storytelling, Harbinger goes for the sow, deliberate build.  Individual characters are slowly introduced to the comic while others fade away, only to be brought back when needed most.  Reading Harbinger there is a real sense that everything is done with careful deliberation.  It is a pleasant change from the editorially driven corporate comics where things seem to happen for no other reason than because they have to fit in to a crossover event.

As excited as I was to read the fourth issue, it was the first time I read a Valiant issue where I felt like it would not be a good jumping on point for a new reader.  Too much has happened and too much continues to happen for there to be a natural way to recap and catch up.   It is like trying to explain an episode of Sherlock to someone in the middle of the episode.  At this point, it is better to wait for the trade and get caught up or go back and get the previous issues.

While Harbinger may be the most cerebral of the Valiant books, it is also the best drawn. Khari Evans is firing on all cylinders.  For a book that has so little action, the art is by no means boring.  His characters mask their emotions behind placid faces, while their body language betrays their inner-most thoughts.  When the action finally erupts, it is explosive and violent.

It looks like things are really going to heat up in the next issue.  Pressure has been building.  Tension is high.  Stanchek is ready to explode.  I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Harbinger #4 is in stores today!

 

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