Harbinger #1, written by Joshua Dysart (Unknown Soldier) and drawn by Khari Evans, is Valiant Comics‘ newest title in their re-launch. It tells the story of Pete Stanchek, a teenager with psychic abilities who is on the run from the law. For newbies to the series, there are some spoilers.
The opening scene, which has been previewed all over comic sites, shows Dysart knows a thing or two about writing with the times. Pete’s abilities make him a Psiot, which makes him extremely sensitive to other people’s thoughts.
Having a keen understanding of issues affecting young adults, Dysart makes prescription pill-popping Pete’s primary crutch for dealing with his inability to cope with his powers. Especially impressive are the art sequences and word bubbles that show the assault on Pete’s psyche that he has to endure when immersed in an urban setting.
Dysart has taken something extremely current and used it to make this newest version of Harbinger fresh and relevant to young readers who are interested in a story they can relate to. There is an authentic feel to the dialogue and social context in which the story takes place.
One of the other superb scenes of this first issue involves Toyo Harada, the greatest Psiot on the planet. Using a flashback, Dysart offers an imaginative and intelligent scene to display Harada’s amazing powers as a youth.
Cutting back to the present day, Pete and his friend Joe, who happens to have some mental issues of his own, have been on the run since breaking out of the mental hospital. They’ve run all around the East Coast, only to wind back in Pittsburgh, Pete’s hometown.
This is where Dysart moves from showing the symptoms of Pete’s issues and gets at the root cause of why he’s been on the run – everyone feared him and locked him away. From there, Dysart transitions the story to Toyo Harada in the present day and his search for Pete, which may or may not be linked to the mysterious Mr. Tull who has tracked Joe down.
In the old incarnation of Harbinger, Harada was not one of the good guys, but Dysart is doing a great job of keeping Harada’s intentions close to his vest. He reaches out to Pete telepathically in an effort to recruit and help him. Things could go either way with Harada.
The issue ends with a nice cliffhanger as Joe inadvertently leads the police back to their crash pad, leaving readers with a nice lead-in for the next issue.
Khari Evans shows off some excellent artwork in this issue, finding style and aesthetics that work well with Dysart’s story. Even though there are no full-blown action sequences, the substance to Evans’ work lies in the details.
Many of the panels are demanding because of the urban situations and occasional actions sequences that call for numerous characters to be on the page. Evans makes it look easy and seamlessly works the gritty feel of a big city like Pittsburgh into the background.
Overall, the story, plotting, and dialogue receive an A for a stellar debut. Dysart really brings his A-game to the story. Also, Evans’ artwork receives a solid A for doing a magnificent job detailing some dense panels with a wonderfully organic feel.
Harbinger #1 hits stores tomorrow, June 6.