Harbinger #1 ADVANCE REVIEW: a confusing yet intriguing ride into a psychic teen hero’s mental state
Written by: Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing, Art by: Robbi Rodriguez, Colours by: Rico Renzi, Letters by: Hassan Otsmane-elhaou.
Peter Stanchek wakes up alone and naked in a dark room. No memory of what happened or how he got there. Just two words written on the ceiling, “Be Better”. With no idea who put them there or what’s going on, he ventures out into the world. He gets quite the poor reception as people run away screaming. With police after him, he begins to fight, but all he can think is “Be Better”. After escaping, he runs into a girl named Cici, who then tells him everything about who he was and is, but with words like "Be Better," is he a hero or a villain?
The Harbinger was a Valiant series I wasn’t that familiar with (previous volumes in 1992-1995 and 2012-2014), so this was very strange. Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing did a great job of filling in a lot of what the premise of the series is about. I got a feel quickly for what kind of story this is going to be: a detective thriller of sorts, where the audience finds out about the character's history as the protagonist does. I did have to Google a little bit to get some background information on the characters. The team have done a good job, but I would have liked a little more being a first time reader of the series. So I can’t say that it’s the perfect jumping on point for new readers such as myself, but it’s a good enough start to this intriguing concept.
Another thing that bothers me a little with the writing, is the words “Be Better”. Now, I’m hoping for the sake of the story that we get a little bit more context to this. I’m wondering if we find out that it was Peter that wrote it, to remind himself to be a better hero, to help people more, and don’t let them be scared. However, it does read as a little childish, and whenever something like this occurs, I can’t help but think that it’s not constructive criticism. So how is the person meant to better themselves, if they don’t have any specifics? As any kind of manager or trainer, if you told someone to “be better,” they would question how and what specifically. So I hope this is developed more in the next few issues because as it stands it’s just very childish.
In terms of the artwork by Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi, it can be a little confusing for a first time reader. When we first met Peter, his skin is a light purple, which I thought could be a side effect of his powers. Now compared to the other pedestrians, it’s strange, as they are a mixture of skin tones. Then when he’s in the restaurant with Cici, he has a lighter skin tone, which confused me as to what his natural tone actually is.
Other then that I really loved the art. The second page is a beautiful skyline, which as anyone who follows my reviews would know, I love a skyline panel. This book is incredibly colourful; everything just pops out of the page.
Overall it’s a pretty good first issue, it’s got me interested and I hope it can continue to grow from here. I’m hoping we get more from the “Be Better”, and it would be nice to get some more back story for first time readers such as myself, but overall it’s a good addition to the Valiant Universe. Although the team will have to do a lot to match up to Shadowman.
The Harbinger issue 1 will be released from Valiant Comics at your Local Comic Shop on 27th October and from Amazon
Harbinger, Volume 1 (1992-1995)
Harbinger, Volume 2 (2012-2014)
Andrew Carr was blessed to grow up watching the animated series of Batman, X-Men, and his favorite, Spider-Man.This started his dive into the comics world, which resulted in meeting his amazing cosplaying wife Imogen. They live in England with their Sinister Six dogs.