Harbinger Volume 2: Renegades – A Review

When Valiant re-emerged a year or so ago, one of the first titles to come out was a new Harbinger.  It and all of the other new Valiant titles are quite fantastic and with this second volume the trend continues.

This volume takes place with our heroes hiding and on the run from Toyo Harada and Operation Rising Spirit.  If the latter seems familiar, then you may remember them from Bloodshot.  The villain though, is Harada.

Toyo Harada is a bad man.  He just does not think he is.  He is probably the most powerful man on the planet in many ways except when it comes to recognizing his own fallacies.  Toyo thinks he is doing well in the end and yet his power and his quest for power have tainted all that he does.  It is this, as well as cold blooded murder which has sent our hero on the run and created in him, his own worst enemy.

Peter Stanchek is arguably the most powerful psiot on the planet, more so than Toyo and it scares him.  Peter is inexperienced and is afraid of what he can do, but does not allow it to get in his way as he tries to assemble a team of his own to oppose Toyo.  When Toyo killed his best friend Joe, it strengthened Peter – humanizing him in the process as well.

In this volume we are introduced to two new characters – the literal stripper with a heart of gold who can generate flame and a boy whose power manifests itself as his inner strength come to life.  As new characters go, Dysart makes them interesting in a short amount of time and we can only guess where they will go from here.  Reading this book and the one previous the answer can only be up.

The breakout character in my estimation though was Faith Herbert, codename Zephyr.  She is not your prototypical hero, neither in body or mind yet you cannot help but to root for her and wish she was your best friend.  Faith is overweight, clumsy and unsure of herself – many aspects which we all can identify.  She’s a nerd and is not ashamed of it which makes her all that more adorable and endearing.  The heroism she displays, so out of character for her, is funny and yet satisfying seeing her evolve.

The art in Renegades is serviceable but nothing spectacular.  For one of Valiant’s flagship books, I would have liked to see some consistency.  Considering this is only the second arc, I find it a little poor that they could not keep a single artist on the book.  The art is not bad by any means, but again when reading it, especially in trade form – it is a little bit jarring going from one artist to the next.  For myself, it just never works that well.

On the other hand, Joshua Dysart serves up a well thought out story, much like a good game of chess.  He moves his players about the board deftly never really letting us know what he might do next.  True, we have seen the ‘heroes on the run’ thing before, but Dysart makes it smart and intriguing by captivating us with what is going to happen next.

This was a strong volume, a little less so because of the art but well worth the read and I highly recommend it. 5 out of 5 for story, 3 out of 5 for art.  Reviewed this book on the Pendulum podcast and gave it a full rating, but upon further reflection, downgraded a wee bit.

4 out of 5

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