War has come to the Valiant universe. In this war, there are no winners, just survivors. So goes the tagline of Valiant’s Harbinger Wars. This is the first crossover event for the revived comic line. Valiant has wowed readers since returning to comic shops last May. Each month they have consistently put out some of the best comics being produced. Like in the 1990’s, Valiant slowly started by developing a handful of titles, before bringing them all together in the giant Unity event. Unity was a line spanning event that also launched a few titles (including the original Archer & Armstrong and Eternal Warrior titles).
The Harbinger Wars is not quite as large an event, but that’s not a bad thing. Since the original Unity event, universe wide mega-crossover events have become commonplace. They’ve become more about driving sales rather than driving plot lines. This event is focused squarely on two titles: Harbinger and Bloodshot. The Harbinger Wars has come together directly out of the story lines in those titles. Both have dealt with the secret development of psiots. Psiots are the Valiant equivalent to mutants or meta-gene holders. Psiots are being developed with amazing powers that rival any conventional force on the planet; walking, talking weapons of mass destruction. Whoever controls them will have the power to shape the world.
Until recently there have been very few active psiots. But Toyo Harada, leader of the Harbinger Foundation, has been changing that. Project Rising Spirit (or PRS) has also been collecting young people with psiot potential and turning them into weapons of mass destruction. A cold war has begun between Harbinger and PRS to find and control the young psiots. PRS has developed operatives to fight this war, like Bloodshot. Bloodshot is the ultimate solider. His body is laced with nanobots, giving him increased strength and dexterity. He also has rapid healing. Until recently, Bloodshot had been one of Project Rising Spirit’s chief weapons in that war, a psiot hunter. Add to the mix Peter Stanchek. Peter is a rare psiot, born fully active. Originally recruited by Harada, Stanchek has struck out on his own, activating his own team of renegades.
This is where the Harbinger War begins. Joshua Dysart and Duane Swierczynski have done a great job bringing their stories together for this event. The story comes naturally out of the events of both titles and both writers have their hands in shaping this miniseries. The first issue starts a bit oddly, with none of the regular characters from either monthly series making an appearance until page 10. While off-putting at first, this beginning is not padding. The events that take place in them actually begin to fill in the untold back stories of Bloodshot and PRS. Their secret war with Harada and the Harbinger Foundation is explained.
This issue takes full advantage of its creative talent. Each page is lush with art, dense without being crowded. Detailed without being busy. Normally art by committee seems rushed and uneven, but Henry, Crain and Suayan all maintain a flow between their pages. They don’t ape each other tho but their styles run well into each other, giving each section its own distinct feel.
Unlike many crossovers, this story is very approachable for new readers. You won’t get lost if you’re not reading all the titles involved.You don’t need intimate knowledge of the complete continuity of every character featured. They have done a great job and making this event a great jumping on point for new readers. So if you have been putting off trying out Valiant, this event gives you a perfect chance to get in on some of the best comics out today. The Harbinger Wars continues in the Harbinger and Bloodshot monthly titles.
Harbinger Wars #1
A $3.99 Comic, 32pgs
Written by Joshua Dysart
Story by Joshua Dysart and Duane Swierczynski
Art by Clayton Henry, Clayton Crain, and Mico Suayan
Covers by Lewis Larosa, Clayton Henry, Clayton Crain and Patrick Zircher