Harbinger Renegade #8
Following a masterpiece is a terrible burden for any creator. Joshua Dysart proved himself to be one of modern comic’s greatest minds during his 2012 Harbinger run. Even five years later there is still much to debate about Harada’s motivations, Peter’s sacrifices, and what the future is shown in the Book of Death was leading to.
With the Harbinger movie on the horizon and Valiant’s Harbinger Wars 2 preparing to shake the world, new readers need an introduction and old fans could use a refresher. Harbinger Renegade has sought to be both of those with mixed results. The second story arc kicked off with a fantastic issue that saw (SPOILER) Generation Zero killed off, followed by an oddly placed origin issue for a previously unseen and unknown villain. Massacre ends with two more quiet issues that really don’t add much to the overall story. We have seen the reactions of the Renegades, how Animalia deals with the loss of her friends, and the H.A.R.D. Corps continuing their crusade against the psiots. Unfortunately, a lot of unnecessary exposition has dampened the intensity of the situation, without any real progress to the story.
Rafer Roberts is at his best when he unleashes the quirky or the disgusting. The question we have to ask, why hold back? Easily the best issue of this run was the massacre of issue 5; even with all the hype, it was a solid read. Issue eight, on the other hand, finds very little action and a lot of unnecessary dialogue. In reality, there are only five truly interesting pages in the whole book and all of them involve a short conflict between the Renegades and Major Charlie Palmer. Fleshing out Kris’s character has been a major point of the series while sacrificing development that Peter, Torque, Faith, and @x could all use. To be honest I did not even recall the name of her girlfriend without jumping back several issues. Still, there is not any bad writing and I hope we will see more of Roberts in a series where he can cut loose.
Perhaps best known for loud disgusting panels, Darick Robertson’s talents are woefully underused. There are no bombastic action sequences, just several scenes of intensity. Still, he has not lost his touch, the art of Harbinger Renegade stands with Happy, Transmetropolitan, and The Boys. The colors are consistent, especially bringing the intensity of the interrogation scene to life. If for no other reason, pick this one up for the covers alone.
Valiant’s greatest strength comes from the unpredictability. Even the most established characters can suffer major losses or deaths without worrying about losing loyal decades of fans or major backlash from those who read national journalism, but not comics. Recently, we have seen a safer approach that makes new series accessible for new readers, but holding back from the pace the older fans are accustomed to. The next three years will be critical for Valiant, as they attempt to take their characters beyond the printed pages. That will require doing more than the other comic giants and creating stories that can unite both parts of the fan base. Hopefully, we will see future issues of Harbinger Renegade ramp up the action, rather than become an unnecessary lead-in.
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