Who is Toyo Harada? Where does he come from? What does he want? That is what readers of Valiant Comics’ Harbinger series have been asking since the series debuted to rave reviews back in June. Ever since then Joshua Dysart, Mico Suayan and company have been engaging readers in the story of the Harada, Omega Age, Peter Stanchek, and the Harbingers to come.
From day one, we’ve know that the Harada Conglomerate are major players. The backers of the Harbinger Foundation seem to have their hands into everything. Energy supplies, high finance, global communications and international relations are all effected by the whims of Toyo Harada. Now with this Zero issue we get to see the early days that shaped Harada from boy into the man who thinks he’s saving the world.
Dysart has woven together this story, set just before issue one of the series. It explores events set early in Harada’s life. As a boy in war-ravaged Japan, just as America dropped two atomic bombs on the country, Harada begins to discover his powers and his role in the future of humanity. Harada’s early life story is paralleled by the story of Darpan. A young boy cursed with powers that will keep him isolated from the rest of humanity, Darpan is a trusting child, grateful to Harada for helping him to be part of the world.
Dysart parallels the beginning of the Atomic Age with the being of the Omega Age, the age of the psiot. Psiots are what Harada calls those, like him, who have been blessed with amazing powers of the mind and body. Powers, like the power of the atom, that can be used to benefit mankind, or in the wrong hands, destroy us. Dysart is not afraid to pose moral questions to the reader, making them ask themselves if maybe Harada is the hero he believes himself to be. He is also not afraid to use real world issues to help ground the story. Issue that have no easy answers, and make the reader think about our lives in the real world.
Mico Sauyan continues to knock it out of the park, with his rich textured pencils. He, along with Pere Perez, have created a lush picture of the grotesque effects of war, saturated with the feel of death and despair, but juxtaposed by the hope of youth. They paint a picture of the young Harada’s emotional state and how it shaped his adult view of the world.
If there was one problem I had with this issue, it is that, while new reader friendly, there were a couple of things that might cause someone who has not been reading the book to scratch their head. Of course, a lot of those answers can be found in the back issues they should have been buying since last June. Or maybe they can go out and get one of the recently offered Valiant Trade paperbacks.
Maybe you haven’t been reading Harbinger or any of the other titles offered as part of the Summer of Valiant ( X-O Manowar, Bloodshot, and Archer & Armstrong). Those 4 series (and Shadowman, which bowed in November) wowed readers right off the bat. Valiant quickly established themselves as the publisher to read if you wanted smart, engaging comics – they put out comics not afraid to challenge readers.
If you have read any of my previous reviews on the various Valiant Universe comics you should know by know that I feel their overall quality has been excellent. Harbinger #0 continues an almost year-long run of amazing storytelling. If by now you still haven’t been reading Valiant, I am just going to assume you are not interested in great comics.
From Valiant Comics
A $3.99, 32 page comic
Writer: Joshua Dysart
Artist: Mico Suayan, Pere Perez
in stores February 6