Review: Harbinger #5 by Joshua Dysart, Khari Evans and Matthew Clark

Review: Harbinger #5

Published by Valiant Entertainment

Written by Joshua Dysart

Art by Khari Evans with Matthew Clark and Jim Muniz

(Very) Brief Recap of the Previous 4 Issues

Peter Stanchek was institutionalized for a long period of time with his friend, Joseph Irons.  They were on the run for months and Peter was plagued with being able to read other people’s thoughts, which was driving him mad.  After they get into some trouble, Peter agrees to join the Harbinger Foundation, which is run by Toyo Harada who is very powerful himself.  His presence at the Foundation is subject to much scrutiny by both staff and students.  Peter is found to have some very exceptional abilities and he is used to try and “activate” the powers of a girl named Faith.  Peter is discouraged with the activation process as a whole and decides to find his best and only friend Joe.  Sadly, he finds that Joe is recently dead by a drug overdose.

The Plot

Peter is confronted by his counselor Ingrid; however, despite her best attempts she is no match for him.  Afterwards, Hidden Moon (his Sensei at the Foundation) confronts him and reveals his true thoughts.  Harada requests the presence of Stronghold and Livewire who may have had something to do with Peter successfully leaving the Foundation undetected.  Peter finds out what Stronghold’s role was in his recent tragedy and he viciously battles both him and Ion.  The odds continue to stack up against Peter, but he is removed from the situation by a new ally.  In another location, another major player is ready to get involved in the situation.  This is the end of the first arc, which leads directly into the second arc, Renegades and the return of another significant character.

The Breakdown

Even though he still has much growing to do, Peter does show some emotional and mental growth in this issue.  He is gaining more understanding and control of his powers, yet we get the feeling that he has just scratched the surface.  He also proves that he is resourceful and does not necessarily need his powers to fight.  The concerns within the Harbinger Foundation being brought to light have also made for some interesting storytelling.  Harada continues to be an intriguing character as he is so intent and devoted to his actions.  He truly believes that he acts for the greater good.  During the final battle, I was unsure as to who was going to survive and what the outcome would be exactly.  Peter’s rescue was well handled and it happened exactly as I expected (which was good).  Despite being so powerful, Peter is always underestimated.  At the same time, I do like how they show that experience can trump raw power.  The upcoming struggle will determine who sides with whom and I cannot wait to see what happens.  I knew that the encounter between Peter and Harada would just be a teaser and I am anxious to see their actual battle.  The final page was interesting as I thought this character was a watcher and not someone to actually get involved.  The art was good overall and there were some very nice panels such as the page when Peter confronts Ingrid.  Another great issue overall.

BUT…

The art was rushed in some spots.  Some of the panels where Peter fought Hidden Moon were kind of distorted and took my attention away from the story.  I’d rather have a book arrive on schedule than be late, but I’m still not a fan of having multiple artists on an issue.  Like I said, the art was good overall, but it wasn’t quite as tight as previous issues in my opinion.  Once again, I started to read the teaser for another comic at the end of the issue.  I like reading a full 22 page issue once through without having read any part of it before.  I know I could avoid it, but IT’S STILL RIGHT THERE.  However, if it encourages more people to try out more issues then I’m willing to endure it J.

Buy It, Borrow It, Shelf Read It, or Ignore It?

Just buy it.  The storytelling has been patient and the effort and hard work is evident within these pages.  The ride has been great so far yet I feel that the real story is now about to begin.  I cannot wait for the next issue every time I put Harbinger down.  Valiant has been laying down key words and ideas in some titles that come from their other titles in order to slowly build a universe.  These books all take place within one universe and they are patiently crafting it.  This company is doing it right.  Valiant is a company worth supporting because they show their love of the medium in every title that they release.

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