HARBINGER WARS #1
Written by Joshua Dysart, Duane Swierczynski
Art by Clayton Henry
Release Date: April 3, 2013
Harbinger Wars is my first taste of Valiant…ever. I decided to give the title, and line, a chance because I have been hearing some very good things about their titles, the recent Quantum and Woody announcement, and also Valiant wisely promoting on some of my more frequented podcasts.
The book begins in a familiar comic book setting. Shady people in suits in a small room talking about secretive things. While a common comic book trope, it does provide a strong narrative throughout the issue and helps keep everything together as the book does go into a few different directions. There was a lot to like about the story. The opener based in the prison in China with the teenagers was the strongest part of the comic, but the drop off when it shifted focus wasn’t significant. I was impressed with how many characters they managed to fit into the issue and avoid the cluttered feeling of a crossover. Most of the super powered children, who seem to be more of background characters in the grand scheme of things, were still given proper introductions. Giving the children more time, even just a panel, helped humanize the main aspect of the story with what they are putting these kids through, and also let the writers show off their creativity with the powers the kids posses. Every power description was original and creative, and beats out any new mutant or power introduced in any other comic in the past few years.
Issue #1 felt more like a movie in its layout and storytelling than a comic book. The layouts on the pages were simple and usually not cluttered with too much dialogue or narrative with an average of 4-6 panels per page. There were more ‘widescreen’ panels than in a usual comic, which upped the movie feel to the story. Most of the characters and motivations also seemed more watered down than what could be represented in their respective titles. The problem is that when these characters are stripped of their complexity and depth, what makes them interesting is lost with that sacrifice. Torque was the character most hurt by the simplified storytelling. His stint in the issue was brief, but his dialogue and actions made him almost unbearable for every panel he was featured. The action movie story telling did have its positives though as Harbinger Wars is extremely exciting to read. All of the action sets were thrilling and displayed all of the characters powers beautifully.
‘Every comic is someone’s first’ is a quote used quite often in the comic book community and I think it applies to Harbinger Wars #1. The book felt more designed for the people who wanted to take a peek into what Valiant has been doing these past few months and not exactly the ones who have been with the series the past few months. Coming from that side of the world, it did what it needed for me. After I finished reading I went to do more research more into Bloodshot since I enjoyed his character so much and that’s what crossovers should do in my opinion.
Harbinger Wars #1 can be enjoyed by new and old fans alike, but the old fans may not get as much out of it as they would like.