Valiant is working overtime to grab readers attention and Harbinger #22 kicks off part one of “Death of a Renegade” and this first story sets up for the biggest battle in the Harbinger series so far. While most of the story focuses on getting the players in position it’s certainly not short on action or entertainment.
Official description from VALIANT:
Peter Stanchek and his wayward team of teenage Renegades thought they had found freedom. They thought they could get their old lives back. They thought they could bring down Toyo Harada and the Harbinger Foundation. They were wrong. And now one of them will die.
It’s simple. The cover says it all. Someone is going to die and after reading this issue it’s going to be at the hands of a most angry and dangerous Toyo Harada. Writer Joshua Dysart kicks off the issue with the calm before the storm. Torque and Faith share a rare moment of peace and happiness with quickly escalates. Peter, his Renegades and newest team member AX (@X) make their plan to end Harada’s reign. They have to act quickly as Harada has finally zeroed in on their L.A. location. What follows is plenty of saying your peace before heading off to war. It shows the strength of their team, more interpersonal connections between the members, as well as, an increasingly determined Harada.
Dysart then sets off one intense game of cat and mouse with the Renegades showing Harada that they have his number and out thinking the great psiot. The events begin with an ever increasing build in tension that explodes once Peter and his team get the upper hand. But Dysart will fill readers with dread as we see the utter determination to end this conflict and Peter in one feel swoop. Very well done and done in a way that Dysart has enough faith in his readership to not play down to the lowest common denominator. Readers experience all the weight from the misleads and misdirection that builds from the very first page.
Dysart also briefly makes every Renegade a target through simple actions and word which fills the reader with fear of who on Peter’s team won’t make it to the end. He also gives the Renegades the upper hand but with plenty of rope to hang themselves as well. It’s not a stretch to say Harada is the most frightening we’ve ever seen and you can’t help feeling no matter who dies it will be brutal. Dysart also shows this team at it’s strongest since first coming together once they set their plan in motion.
Clayton Henry’s line work is sharp and definitive which suits the Renegades and even Harada to a tee. He is quick on the action and dynamic using panels as a cinematographer uses slightly skewed camera angles for maximum effect. He consistently puts Harada in the ultimate power positions to make him feel larger than life and has a tremendous panel where Harada stops a semi-truck with devastating results.
Harbinger #22 is a great kick off to what feels like a very sad and painful story by the end of the arc. It’s simply good story telling and Harbinger has always been about that at it’s core. A great story. Dysart is in no short supply of being able to clearly present, a group of teenagers, who mature quickly through conflict and still feel genuine and honest. With so many great arcs in Harbinger’s run this is setting up to be a classic and readers are the ones who will benefit most. Harbinger is easily the top Valiant title which is mainly character and emotionally driven with unlikely heroes and terrifying villains. Certainly Dysart is not above getting his hands dirty but focuses mainly on great character and drama to drive Harbinger into one of Valiant’s best series going.