Things just got real deep for Peter Stanchek.
For someone who’s potentially one of the most powerful people on Valiant Comics’ Earth, he’s had a lot of trouble with life. He had been in and out of mental hospitals, on the run, and self medicating, before being found and “rescued” by Toya Harada and the Harbinger Foundation, who seem to want to give him everything he could need including a home. He would also be in school with other kids like him, but even that is not perfect; his classmates are afraid of him, or jealous, and so are the teachers. Oh, and his best friend was just killed, which was ordered by his benefactor.
So you can understand why he might have some issues.
That’s where Harbinger #5 starts. The series story has been moving forward so far with character pieces contrasted by bursts of action. In issue 5, the action ramps up to a fever pitch as Peter finally finds out what is expected of him and how far Harada is willing to go to secure Peter’s loyalty and dedication. Unfortunately for Harada, it has the exact opposite effect. All of this leads Peter and his would be mentor to face off in a predestined conflict and no one involved will ever be the same again..
The story and the characters are not sacrificed for the sake of all this action, rather, the action is driven by the characters’ needs (both internal and external). Each character has their own agenda and how they reconcile that with their own moral code only leads to even more conflict. Joshua Dysart does a wonderful job of making you feel somewhat sympathetic to almost all of them, but at the same time, there is a sense of satisfaction when someone gets what they deserve.
It is very hard to draw mental powers, but Khari Evans continues to impress, with a dynamic style. His work is bold, but structured, making sure to keep the flow of the story, not sacrificing clarity for esthetics. The look is dark, with lots of shadow, much like the tone of the book. There is a lot of moral ambiguity, and there are no real heroes in this world yet. Yet, Faith, who we met in issue 3, stands out as a bright spot, both as a character, and in the book’s color palette.
The creators at Valiant have done incredible work returning these great characters to comic book racks. As long as they continue to produce books like this, I can’t imagine they’ll ever go away again.