The premiere issue had the Herculean task of establishing the wide roster of characters -- and thankfully it did so skillfully, allowing both new and old readers to fully appreciate the beginning of the publisher's first big event. Now that we've taken a look at everyone's name cards, writers Joshua Dysart and Duane Swierczynski serve up an overdose of madness and masterfully juggle most of the players -- and trust me, there's a lot of 'em.
The group of Harbingers who managed to flee in a vehicle have a fairly funny crash landing in Las Vegas ("It's a nice place to unwind, sir"). It was a little uneasy seeing how they had no gripe killing innocent security guards in the casino, but I guess they have a kill or be killed mindset after all they've been through. Even though I felt terrible seeing the innocent dudes tricked and slaughtered, I won't deny the fact that their deaths did indeed look spectacular. There's a wealthy amount of really rad powers these kids have, but Animalia's has to by the most visually pleasing by a long shot. Watching those cartoonish projections come to life is a super cool contrast to the more detailed world around it. While the focus on this team is fairly short, it's abundantly clear they're going to play a much bigger role down the road.
The real crux of this issue is Toyo Harada attempting to retrieve a different group of Harbingers traveling with Bloodshot. Given all of the impressive covers we've seen, it's obvious these two will duke it out. But that seems like an incredibly unfair fight, doesn't it? One is considered one of the most powerful men on the planet. The other is a talented soldier with a healing factor and a slew of other abilities -- but ultimately, nothing that we think would make him even a challenge to Toyo. Unbeknownst to us, Project Rising Spirit actually installed a protocol in Bloodshot. When Toyo nears him, the protocol activates and grants him a variety of new abilities to help even the odds. It's a phenomenal and downright vicious battle that is simply a must read experience for anyone who enjoys HARBINGER or BLOODSHOT (but if you enjoy either, you're reading this book anyway, yes?). And just in case that wasn't enough entertainment, the remaining Harbingers go face-to-face with Harada's gang, resulting in yet another display of grand powers. The conclusion in this encounter is rather shocking, too.
But what about Peter Stanchek and the Renegades? Well, seeing as so much is going on with everyone else, the co-writers made the wise decision to save this group until the conclusion and it appears they'll have the spotlight in the next issue. I'm grateful for this choice because otherwise the issue would be far too populated and jumping between each group would be a really unpleasant and jarring experience (not to mention it would mean less time for the other two locations).
Unlike the first issue (which had a crowded team on visuals), the artwork remains consistent during the entire read and manages to strike the proper tone for each scene. On one page, we have powerful expressions of fear and shock from young Harbingers, and on the next we have some truly viscera material as Harada and Bloodshot clash. I don't want to give it away, so I'll just say Harada's initial attack alters Bloodshot's appearance and it's delightfully horrific. Seeing Bloodshot lunge at someone like that... man, I'd need to change my pants if I was in that scenario.
Nada. I'm thoroughly impressed with this one.
Most big events don't have the appeal that they used to. The market feels oversaturated with them and it's far too often they seem like a cash grab instead of a legitimately fascinating concept. This isn't the case at all with HARBINGER WARS and it's a big event done right. It's hugely entertaining, changing characters and their motivations, and most important of all, will clearly have a big impact on the Valiant universe.
I know some of you out there want to check this out but you're concerned because you haven't read any of Valiant's other stuff. It's understandable and potentially being lost in a book you paid $3.99 for isn't appealing. But that's not going to happen here. Why? Because Valiant actually uses the intro page to its fullest. We're not just talking about a detailed recap, but also a ridiculously thorough feature which details all of the characters -- who they are and what they can do. It's a seriously impressive move on the publisher's behalf, so don't let unfamiliarity scare you away from this one.