Written by: Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing, Art by: Robbi Rodriguez, Colours by: Rico Renzi, Letters by: Hassan Otsmane-elhaou.
Peter Stanchek is a nightmare to the people of Psiot City. He bears an enormous amount of power, but he has as awoken with no memory of who he is. Just letters on the wall: “be better”.
The Renegade has revealed himself, and he is a part of Peter: the part who wants to go rob banks or just make the world descend into chaos. Peter is determined to not be that person anymore. Since becoming The Harbinger, he wants to be a symbol for the people. Although when the ultimate antagonist is yourself, is there even a way for Peter to emerge victorious and become what he hoped to be: better?
The Harbinger has been a wild ride of a series and issue #4 is no exception. The last 3 issues have had moments that I’ve found confusing, but nothing compared to this one. Now obviously, I’m very new to this character so that could be a reason why I’ve been finding this book so challenging, but over the last few issues there have been moments that have been truly great. I personally love the idea of a protagonist who is an unreliable narrator due to his mental illness, whether that be multiple personality disorder or schizophrenia. The running theme throughout the book so far was that Peter has no idea who he is, someone has wiped his memory, and there’s a version of him out there who has the same powers, but is evil. Even Peter himself starts to question his sanity when the people are scared of him. This was such an interesting idea, as we readers couldn’t determine if this was in his head or not. That was part of the genius of the writing by Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing. This issue seems to have thrown a lot of confusion into that aspect of the story, that this struggle is happening within Peter's head. It’s an epic battle of strength, endurance, and discovery about who he was and is. This ends in a moment where Cici says to him “he exploded real good” after we see something crash into the ground. If this fight was in his head, then I wouldn’t expect any physical collateral damage. So just that one sentence has caused all of the hard work by the writers to be undone, as it casts doubt if that actually physically happened. So for me that confusion has put a a mark against the book.
Despite my issue from a narrative perspective, there are some great things artistically. We are shown multiple double page spreads throughout the issue, more than any book I’ve read before. I think this actually helps it as it increases the drama and intensity of the book. Whether this is a battle in the mind or not, it’s made even more epic in scale with so many double pages. The colours are also very vibrant which also increases the intensity. With so much going on artistically, it’s a shame that the book was let down by a confusing narrative.
Overall, this is still an enjoyable series but it’s getting harder and harder to read. This could be down to my lack of experience with the character, however that does mean that this arc hasn’t been good for new readers, unlike the other Valliant books that I’ve been lucky enough to read advance copies of. So far it’s been the intriguing story that’s been a stand-out, but with this issue, it’s definitely the art. Beautiful double page spreads that are very contemporary and some amazing panel layouts that just feel so retro; it’s got the best of both worlds here.
The Harbinger issue 4 will be released by Valiant Comics on 26th January 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.