Issue 8 reintroduces Torque with a nice nod to Valiant’s heritage, but in a far more unexpected and imaginative way. Let’s just say that Dysart takes Harbinger from being ultra-serious to hilarious seamlessly.
In the day and age where Ed Hardy or Affliction shirts are the rage with so-called MMA aficionados who consider the Kardashians cultured hotties who epitomize the concept of branding yourself, Dysart sets up Torque’s origin story as a scathing commentary on that fantasy deluded aspect of our culture.
What readers see in the beginning of the story is Torque being a legend in his own mind as he finds adventure in Torquehalla. In reality, Torque is a bed-ridden cripple, making him sympathetic despite his highly misguided fantasy world.
There are a lot of ways a writer can approach social commentary as a means of telling a story in fiction, especially comic books. Dysart shifts Harbinger from a generally serious tone to something that takes the piss out of itself, and it works really well. He manages to convey the good-hearted core of Torque that readers remember while getting in a good dig at today’s youth and the shallow culture they’re being peddled.
Lee Garbett and colorist Moose Baumann provide some nice art and colors to the majority of the story, but falter a bit with the side scene between Harada and Livewire. The colors and art are a bit sloppy. However, the majority of the story is really good with colors that pop and a great sequence by Garbett as Torque becomes activated.
This months’s issue of Harbinger also has variants drawn by Mico Suayan, Khari Evans, and Jeff Lemire. Each of them are fantastic and worth noting as they show off different elements of Harbinger unique identity as a story.
As usual, Harbinger remains one of the best stories in comics because Dysart has a way of blending fantasy and reality in a way that entertains readers and gets them to think about serious issues culturally and globally. The smarts and suspense Dysart puts into his cliffhangers, especially the one that he sets up at the end of this issue, shows that he knows how to keep the hook baited.
As a bonus, readers get the first bit of Harbinger #0 at the end of the story, which should provide some deeper insights into Harada and how the next arc after the Renegades storyline plays out.
If you’re not reading Harbinger right now, you’re missing out. In a medium dominated by superheroes, Harbinger does capes smarter and better than anything on the stands right now.