Harbinger #23 (Valiant)

Harbinger 23

Rating: 5/5 – The Pinnacle of the Harbinger Series, With MORE to Come!
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Adam Alamo.

Let’s get the giant elephant in the room out of the way right now. There is a death in this issue of Harbinger’s current story arc, “Death of a Renegade.” It’s been announced in the marketing material for months and now it’s in the comic.  It’s sad. It’s shocking. It proves that present day Valiant has big, brass cojones, just like the Valiant of old. Because in the Valiant Universe, dead is and always will be dead, no revolving door on character deaths like at Marvel & DC.

For 22 issues, Joshua Dysart has been setting up the inevitable fight between Peter Stanchek of the Renegades and Toyo Harada of the Harbinger Foundation. They’ve had some skirmishes during the titles continued run, but that face-to-face, prodigal son returning, mentor vs. student battle has yet to occur. While that inescapable battle begins this issue, it is only a tease of what is yet to come. The opposing forces are playing a serious game of chess, the outcome of which will have ramifications for all those involved and the wider Valiant Universe. This issue not only expanded that chessboard, but it just called “check.” When it was over, I was left simultaneously wanting more and realizing that I just read an issue that set things up so perfectly that I felt almost privileged to read it. And while this may have been the pinnacle of the series so far, I believe we’re only on the upward slope of this final story.

On art duties we have Clayton Henry tackling the main narrative and Khari Evans illustrating a touching epilogue of sorts. I have always enjoyed Henry’s clean lines and it was fantastic to see Evans return after a long hiatus. It was also quite appropriate given the material Evans was tasked with illustrating. It’s good on such an important issue to see familiar art. As the forthcoming end to this chapter in the Harbinger approaches, I hope we continue to see these two talents elsewhere.

With Harbinger #23, Dysart has demonstrated that he’s a master of his craft. As the lead in to the final showdown between the Renegades and the Harbinger Foundation, he took an issue in the middle of a story arc and make it matter. He also paid homage to the original Valiant Universe, whose own Renegades suffered a loss that had lasting effects. He did it in a way that didn’t feel cheap or gimmicky. On the contrary, he managed to make this issue one of the most anxiously awaited releases of this or any other title in the company’s history. It is an issue that may have some fans lamenting the loss of their favorite character, but I have no doubt that in the end everyone will agree that this was an issue not to be missed.

Reviewed by: Adam Alamo
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