Back when Valiant relaunched their comics line in the summer of 2012, Harbinger quickly stood out as the best book of the bunch. Even more important than the psionic powers of this universe, every character is layered with moral complexity. Peter Stanchek is clearly our ‘hero,’ but he’s a drug addict who has used his immense powers to control and manipulate his ‘girlfriend.’ Toyo Harada is clearly the ‘villain,’ but he seemingly wants to use his powers for noble, peaceful goals (that, yes, involve him sort of ruling the world).
The only real comic book archetype for a hero is Faith, and that’s largely just because she was raised on a healthy diet of Joss Whedon and Star Wars. Faith is the everyman for comics readers, providing a clear touch-point into what it would be like if one day somebody suddenly activated superpowers straight into our brains. All of the above is what makes this new “Death of a Renegade” story arc so essential feeling. Peter’s Renegades are all well-rounded characters at this point, and their mission to undermine and ultimately destroy Harada’s Harbinger Corps has been the guiding plot of this book for over a year.
For a “death of” story arc, “Harbinger #22” does not disappoint. All that tension between Harada and Peter and the Renegades boils over into one action-packed blend of misdirection, heist, and all-out war. Joshua Dysart has done a terrific job writing this book for its entire run, and the art here from Clayton Henry fits the established tone of the book perfectly. The duo performs a particularly skilled bit of misdirection, making it so your conditioned comic book expectations work against you, and the story carries on in new and exciting ways.
Harbinger is in a great place right now, although it will be tough to see which one of the Renegades pays the ultimate price. Even dating back to its original 90’s incarnation, Harbinger was never shy about taking out characters, so I don’t expect Valiant to sugarcoat a story arc committed to the death of a character.
Verdict: 8 out of 10