Rating: 5/5 – Setting a New Standard for Anniversary Issues!
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Adam Alamo.
I was of two minds going into Harbinger #25, the final issue of the first volume. On the one hand I was beyond excited. The series, and the last few issues in particular, have been near comic perfection. On the other hand, I was suspect of the “anniversary celebration” label. I’m generally not a fan of anniversary issues. To me, they tend to be extra-sized issues stuffed with filler material. Was the first volume of this beloved series going out in a big ball of fluff? I’m happy to report that the answer is a resounding no!
It’s amazing to think that writer Joshua Dysart has been crafting the Harbinger story for 25 issues (plus two zero issues and the Harbinger Wars miniseries), no guest writers for even a single issue! This final issue in the volume, before Dysart tackles the next chapter in the saga, is no different. The main story, which comprises the bulk of the issue, is the perfect bookend to the series. Some characters go off to find themselves and others come full circle. And the villain? Well, there is no doubt where he stands when it is all over. In between, Dysart manages to flesh out some secondary characters and affirm that their roles are not only important, but far from over. When all is said and done, the Valiant universe is truly, irrevocably altered.
The remaining stories in the issue, by writers Vivek Tiwary, Justin Jordan, Dan Goldman, and Lucy Knisley, all have something to add to the Harbinger legacy (even the humorous ones, if you look closely enough). They are some really great character pieces that provide insight, give some additional backstory, and flesh out moments from the past. There was not one throwaway story and nothing that felt to me like the filler I feared might be part of the issue. Included at the end was a beautiful pin-up by Barry Kitson and, as a nod to old and new fans alike, a cover gallery of all the Harbinger issues to date. Providing art is a who’s who of talent, including long time Harbinger artists Khari Evans and Clayton Henry. The send off wouldn’t have been complete without their beautiful illustrations. The real standout to me, though, was the art by Lewis LaRosa in perhaps the best backup story, “Into Memory.” His illustrations were nothing short of breathtaking. Add to that the subtle coloring by Brian Reber and I felt like I was living in those memories.
Harbinger #25 not only sets the new standard for anniversary issues, it exemplifies what the end of a volume should be. Joshua Dysart took five teens, made me fall in love with them, broke my heart, and reset the pieces for the journey to come. Thinking back to where this series began, I can hardly believe where it ended up. I cannot wait to see what comes next!
Reviewed by: Adam Alamo
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