The Harbinger #2 REVIEW: Fascinating but fuzzy journey of an amnesiac: is he superhero or villain?


Written by: Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing, Art: Robbi Rodriguez, Colours: Rico Renzi, Letters: Hassan Otsmane-Elhadu.


Peter Stanchek is a nightmare to the people of Psiot City. He bears an enormous amount of power, but he has as awakened with no memory of who he is. His only clue are letters on the wall: “be better”.


After being attacked by an unknown assailant, Peter manages to break free. He wakes up in a crater with no sign of the perpetrator. Trying to make sense of the situation he’s in, he comes across a young boy, “young ago”, a wannabe superhero who views Peter as a god. Whilst trying to reason with him, a group of powered people called “The Warning” turn up. Now Peter is even more confused; are they the heroes come to save “young ago,” or is he?


I’ve been thinking a lot about this title recently. Last month was the first time I’d ever read a Harbinger book (this is volume 3 of a series that began in 1992). Although not the best of starts, it had piqued my interest. Now we get to the second issue, and we are seeing some even more interesting threads being woven in ways that I don’t think I’ve ever seen a superhero book do.


From the writing perspective, I’m both fascinated and intrigued by what’s being presented. This situation of an unreliable narrator has been done in all different mediums, but personally I’ve never seen it in a superhero book. The way it’s got both Peter and us readers guessing: is he good or bad, is he seeing things or is he sane? This makes for incredibly entertaining reading when you factor in that he’s one of the most powerful beings around.

I especially love that this unknown character has similar powers to Peter and leaves no trace. Adding to the mystery of Peter's psyche, leaving us, the readers in the dark but also coming up with explanations for it all. As someone who is new to The Harbinger, I think it was a great way to initiate the series so we know as little as the main character does, and we are still in the dark about his morality. This is even called into question when we see Peter save a cat, but we get narration over the top questioning “is that what you think happened?” By keeping the readers guessing, it makes the series even more thrilling. So I feel that it has benefitted greatly from this new volume being such a good jumping on point for new readers.


Before getting to the art, I will say that one panel confused me, and it got to a point where I had to put it down to questionable editing. Whilst discussing Peter, the narrator says “And you want the only good thing about him”. This bizarre sentence had me reading it over and over again until I thought maybe there was something missing, like “And you want to know the only good thing about him” would have made more sense in the context, but having that did bring me out of the story, as I tried to figure out what was meant.


Over the last few years I’ve read a lot of different books, and I’ve come across many different art styles. Some I grow to like, and others I love from the beginning. This series I’m hoping is the former, as many panels seem very busy, where it’s difficult to focus on what’s going on. Although the biggest drawback for me still is the colouring of Peter. He still looks purple in multiple panels and yet will change to lighter skin in others. Being a new reader to the series I’m still getting used to the characters, and I’m still confused after 2 issues as to what Peter truly looks like.


Overall, I’m enjoying the story more than the art. I’m still intrigued about Peter's state of mind. The way this book is being set up, I wouldn’t be surprised if he does become the villain and we have been supporting him the whole time, making this such a confusing experience yet still satisfying.


The Harbinger issue 2 was released by Valiant Comics on the 24th November from your Local Comic Shop as well as comixology


 

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.

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