Harbinger

Harbinger: Faith 0 (December 2014)

Harbinger: Faith #0A lot of Faith, the comic, not the character, comes down to her boyfriend, Torque. Being majorly behind on Harbinger, I had no idea they were dating. I never liked the character and they seem like a questionable fit, which is what the comic turns out to be–Faith realizing her place in the world.

Writer Joshua Dysart takes it seriously too. He puts enough work in so the dumb boyfriend moments like Torque feel like natural dumb boyfriend moments and not artificial ones engineered to move the plot along. They do look like those types of moments, but they aren’t. Dysart keeps the comic sincere.

Artist Robert Gill does a good job too. He doesn’t have a lot of action to do, but he handles it well when it does come up.

Dysart uses a Twitter device. It’s distracting… if only because I couldn’t stop thinking about character count.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Dysart; artist, Robert Gill; colorist, Jose Villarrubia; letterer, Dave Sharpe; editor, Kyle Andrukiewicz; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.

Harbinger 10 (March 2013)

269331 20130414062142 largeNow here’s a great issue. Dysart manages to turn the all-action issue into something with some content, probably because he’s got enough characters doing different things it can be a rewarding reading experience.

He opens with narration from Peter, but splits the issue between him and Faith. They have to do a rescue mission, only Faith’s the one who’s got to do the superhero stuff. The way Dysart splits the responsibility between them is part of the issue’s brilliance. His plotting here is exceptional. It’s so good, the issue can even withstand the awkward finish.

Dysart tries hard to reestablish Peter as the lead in the comic and he only partially succeeds. He still hasn’t made Peter function on his own, he always needs to be playing off someone. And the character works great with that constraint.

The art’s okay (credit should go to M. Hands).

Great, great issue.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Dysart; pencillers, Matthew Clark, Álvaro López, Dimi Macheras and Brian Thies; inkers, Clark, López, Macheras, Thies and Stefano Gaudiano; colorist, Mouse Baumann; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Jody LeHeup and Warren Simons; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.

Harbinger 9 (February 2013)

267154 20130317102155 largeReally nice art from Pere Pérez. Probably the most consistently good art Harbinger has had so far.

On to the story. While Dysart certainly left the cast in dire straits last issue, this issue he plays out the worst possible scenario. Not a lot of character moments–I don’t think Flamingo even has any lines–except for Faith. Well, Kris gets a good moment, but it’s Faith’s issue.

One has to wonder if Dysart plotted the whole thing to get to that result–Faith as the series’s protagonist. He does the standard hero white guy, with a cute geeky girl, a stripper (it’s still a superhero comic book after all), but the real center of the comic is Faith. The overweight nerd.

Dysart doesn’t spend an eighth as much time on anyone but Kris. She and Faith run Harbinger… to great result too.

It’s utterly fantastic work, start to finish.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Dysart; artist, Pere Perez; colorist, Ian Hannin; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Jody LeHeup and Warren Simons; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.

Harbinger 8 (January 2013)

265253 20130310151739 largeWhat a downer. Dysart opens with Harada mentally torturing a Harbinger he’s already exiled to a desert. Harada might be the comic’s biggest problem–he’s such an evil bastard, he’s not interesting. One could make the greater good argument, but there’s not enough material for it. Just sound-bytes.

Then, when Dysart gets to the renegades–Kris gets the biggest scene, her and Flamingo the stripper–they’re activating some poor kid with a physical disability. Dysart doesn’t spend a lot of time establishing the kid, just his daydreams. It means he gets to do a reveal, but it also means the issue is less effective.

The finale, with everyone in some kind of danger, comes after a big fight scene. It’s rather depressing, since the cast fights and fights yet still loses.

Realism’s unsatisfying.

Nice enough art from Lee Garbett. He’s occasionally loose but always competent.

It’s another good issue.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Dysart; artist, Lee Garbett; colorist, Mouse Baumann; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Jody LeHeup and Warren Simons; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.

Harbinger 7 (December 2012)

888877Barry Kitson on pencils makes for a better looking Harbinger overall, though inkers Lee Garbett and Khari Evans could’ve picked up the slack more when Kitson gets bored. He’s always got a rushed, unfinished feel to his faces in particular.

This issue features the renegades trying to recruit more Harbingers. Dysart splits the story between Harada at the open and then this new character–Flamingo–for the rest of the issue. Flamingo’s a stripper and has had a bad life up until Peter, Faith and Kris find her.

Oh, before I forget, it’s interesting how Dysart is positioning Kris against Harada–the two masterminds.

Back to the stripper. Dysart does a good job telling her history, though the ending seems off. Faith shows up and Faith’s so naive, it’s hard to determine if people are taking advantage of her. Good or bad.

So, besides the last couple pages… great issue.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Dysart; penciller, Barry Kitson; inkers, Lee Garbett and Khari Evans; colorists, Ian Hannin and Dan Brown; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Jody LeHeup and Warren Simons; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.

Harbinger 6 (November 2012)

890468Very strange stuff. Not the issue itself, which turns Kris into the protagonist of the series–it remains to be seen if Dysart maintains that position for her–but how Dysart sells the idea.

He does it very subtly, introducing all these details about Kris and her regular reading list. He establishes she’s smart, he establishes she’s informed, well-read, then sets her plan in motion.

The issue’s from her perspective; Dysart does a pretty good job with it too.

There are only two problems. First is the pacing. Once Kris’s plan becomes clear, Dysart gets reader anticipation going. It rises, rises, rises–wait, then the issue ends. Doing well backfires a little.

And Phil Briones’s pencils. The art in the issue is good half the time. The other half people look totally different from panel to panel.

Harbinger is undoubtedly compelling. Dysart probably has five good twists this issue.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Dysart; penciller, Phil Briones; inkers, Andrew Hennessy and Briones; colorist, Ian Hannin; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Jody LeHeup and Warren Simons; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.

Harbinger 5 (October 2012)

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Dysart brings Harbinger’s first arc to an extremely strong finish. He had some sublime foreshadowing earlier (it read like long-term foreshadowing, but it turns out to be short) and he doesn’t waste time establishing the characters. Instead, he just lets the scenes play out fast. For example, there’s a returning character who finally gets a name, but Dysart then develops the character (a little) in his actions. No painful expository scene.

There are also a bunch of unexpected plot twists. Three definitely surprised me; a couple more might be surprising to others. None of the surprises, even the second soft cliffhanger, feel forced. Dysart does a great job. One wonders if he had this issue in mind and just had to write to it.

He also brings in compelling supporting characters, which the book has been lacking.

The writing’s so strong, I didn’t notice if Evans messed anything up.

CREDITS

Omega Rising, Conclusion; writer, Joshua Dysart; pencillers, Khari Evans, Matthew Clark and Jim Muniz; inkers, Evans, Matt Ryan and Sean Parsons; colorists, Ian Hannin, Jeromy Cox and Chris Sotomayor; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Jody LeHeup and Warren Simons; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.

Harbinger 4 (September 2012)

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Even with the foreshadowing about the Harbinger foundation being nasty, nothing really prepares for this issue. Dysart shows an unexpected mean-streak, setting up a sympathetic new character and then attacking her. He also manages to get some real sympathy for his protagonist, who hallucinates he’s able to apologize to the girl he wronged.

This issue of Harbinger is there first where all cylinders fired. Dysart isn’t really introducing a lot of new characters; the one he brings in is a big part of the plot. The characters from the last issue get better treatment too. Dysart takes the time to let them have a natural conversation.

The ending surprises. There’s a great reveal and then a big cliffhanger, but Dysart nicely separates the two. He puts the reader a little off-guard and delivers the finish.

It seems like all Harbinger needed was not to be an origin story.

CREDITS

Omega Rising, Part 4; writer, Joshua Dysart; artists, Khari Evans, Matthew Clark and Lewis LaRosa; colorist, Ian Hannin; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Josh Johns, Jody LeHeup and Warren Simons; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.

Harbinger 3 (August 2012)

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Now we discover the X-Men. Sorry, the Harbinger group. Or foundation. It’s all very futuristic–though it reminds of a lot of sci-fi–and the protagonist, Peter doesn’t quite know what to make of it all.

I don’t know how much Dysart came up with, how much is from the original Harbinger series or how much is editorial… it’s not dynamic. I’ve seen everything in here before. Except the LaRosa illustrated flashback pages, which are easily the best thing in the issue. They make the protagonist sympathetic, something he’s not until the end when it seems like the Harbingers might be bad guys. I mean, they sort of encourage jocks to bully.

No one’s got a personality besides the lead’s doctor so far. Everyone else just performs in their scene. And then there’s the awkward moment the lead misses the girl he brainwashed.

It’s an unfortunately underwhelming issue.

CREDITS

Omega Rising, Part 3; writer, Joshua Dysart; artists, Khari Evans and Lewis LaRosa; colorists, Ian Hannin and Moose Baumann; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Josh Johns, Jody LeHeup and Warren Simons; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.

Harbinger 2 (July 2012)

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I don’t know if I’d say Evans’s art is better this issue–there’s more action and he can handle the action–but as for the faces… he still seems weak. But I wasn’t paying as much attention, there’s too much else going on.

Dysart opens the issue with another flashback, this time to India (with nice Lewis LaRosa art). It works–showing other Harbingers has an immediate hook, something the main plot line doesn’t yet. For example, the lead brainwashed a teenage girl into having sex with him. Sure, he’s a teenager too, but even his schizophrenic friend knows that sort of behavior’s inappropriate. The lead’s not likable, which on one hand I applaud, but on the other… Harbinger‘s a little too glossy for Dysart to take that approach. It’s not mean, except that one act.

Still, the issue assuages most of my Evans fears; it’s fine, if problematic.

CREDITS

Omega Rising, Part 2; writer, Joshua Dysart; artists, Khari Evans and Lewis LaRosa; colorists, Ian Hannin and Moose Baumann; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Josh Johns, Jody LeHeup and Warren Simons; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.

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