Valiant Comics, you are a delight.
See, I never read Valiant growing up. I’ve discussed my reasons for this multiple times in previous columns, so I won’t bother rehashing those reasons now, but I will say that the more I read from Valiant’s current crop of books, the more I wish I had paid attention to what they were doing all those many long years ago.
You see, Valiant is now, and in many ways always has been, a comic company for people who love comics. They were not big and flashy like Image, or old guards like Marvel and DC. They were a small, unassuming company that did their best to put out a steady, consistent string of titles that, while not always as beautifully drawn as Image books, were much, much more better written.
In fact, you could say that ’90’s Image is what you get when you let artists create books, and Valiant is what you get with writers and editors.
Valiant has closed it’s doors and reopened them a few times in the last few decades, and each time they find a way to claw their way back to the shelves. They continue to put out a solid string of well written titles, and honestly some of my favorite books the last few years have been from them, especially their relaunch of XO and the current run of Shadowman.
So it only makes sense for me to once again dive into the well of Valiant history with their latest relaunch, The Harbinger, a series that I again know absolutely nothing about, but am eager to see if it will catch my attention and imagination like so many other titles from them have before.
So let’s dive in!
Here’s the blurb: Co-written by JACKSON LANZING and COLLIN KELLY (Green Arrow, Gotham City Garage) and featuring art by ROBBI RODRIGUEZ (Spider-Gwen, Batgirl), the upcoming series introduces new readers to Peter Stanchek, the most powerful telepath on the planet, and the sole being capable of activating powers in others like him. THE HARBINGER will trace Peter’s path from the most feared man in the world to one of its greatest protectors. This character-driven journey will introduce new allies, new villains, new costumes, and a new meaning for the title of Harbinger.
I knew literally nothing about this character before I read The Harbinger; like, nothing. And after issue one, I certainly can’t claim to know a ton more, but I did like what I read.
Lanzing and Kelly have made a smart choice with The Harbinger by having Peter begin the book as an amnesiac, a trope I know has been done before, but as a way to introduce an established character it certainly beats some other, more heavy handed methods I have seen used before.
From what I’ve gathered, this Peter guy is pretty powerful, in fact, he’s possibly one of the most powerful characters in the Valiant universe. He has a variety of superpowers like flight, strength, mind control. He also has the power to unlock the potential power in others as well.
The problem is, someone else had that power too, and the people that they both helped to create went to war, and it ended poorly and at a high cost for everyone. Peter doesn’t know anything about this, and learns it all from a new friend who has a connection to Peter’s past that definitely has more details to reveal.
All in all, it was a good first issue. The art is very solid, with a lean and lanky style that is slightly reminiscent of Japanese Anime (or maybe I’ve just been rewatching too much Cowboy Bebop recently). The plot is interesting and the book is paced well. Best of all, the exposition dumps feel natural and not clunky or hamfisted.
For my money, The Harbinger is worth a read. Ask your LCS to carry it and pick up issue one. If you’ve been following Valiant’s return like I have, this is a book you don’t want to miss.