Review: Harbinger #7 by Joshua Dysart & Barry Kitson

Harbinger #7:

Publisher: Valiant Comics
Writer: Joshua Dysart
Artist: Barry Kitson
Release Date: 12/19/2012
Cover Price: $3.99
Review: Digital Copy (From Comixology)

After learning that his friend Joe Iron was killed, Peter Stanchek has violently escaped from the Harbinger Foundation, with the help of Faith, a girl whose powers he helped activate. He joins his childhood crush, Kris Hathaway, to get back at the Harbinger Foundation. At the end of the previous issue, Peter and the gang were able to pit the Harbinger Foundation against Project Rising Spirit (from the Bloodshot comic), giving them time to escape.

Synopsis

  • After Project Rising Spirit destroys Kris Hathaway’s family home, Toyo Harada obliterates their soldiers.
  • A week later, Toyo is assessing the damage, and learns from an operative, that Peter has a list of potential Harbinger Foundation members and knows about the monk who is the advisor to Harada.
  • Peter, Faith, and Kris go visit Charlene Dupre who is a stripper with the nickname, Flamingo, who is a Psiot on the Harbinger Foundation list.
  • Peter touches Flamingo in the club, and it stirs memories in her, specifically of her current boyfriend Huxley who abuses her.
  • Peter invites Charlene to their hotel room, where he touches her again, and activates her pyrokinetic powers (the mental ability to spontaneously start fires).
  • Flamingo returns to the strip club where she sets her abusive boyfriend on fire. She is met by Faith who invites her to join their group.

Analysis

This is not a perfect comic book. It really isn’t. But, there are moments in this book that are some of the best character building moments I have read in a comic book in a long time.

The character of Flamingo was not one of the most interesting characters in the original Harbinger comic book. In this book, the writers craft her such a powerful back story, that it makes her more real than most female superheroes.

And let’s not forget that they make the character a stripper. When most comic book writers introduce a stripper into the pages, usually it is a cheap way for the artist to include some fan-service eye candy to the mix. Put a scantily clad, attractive woman on the covers, and you’ll boost your numbers. And usually when they do this, the character development goes in the toilet.

Flamingo feels fully fleshed out. The images of her being a bit of a pyromaniac as a kid lead you perfectly into the latent powers that exist inside of her. The narrative of her sexuality through her high school years that led to her leaving home and making her way to New Orleans. How she gives in to her boyfriend, Huxley, as it is easy to give into someone who wants to ‘take’ you. After being dominant for so long, she enjoys being submissive until he starts to turn on her and become abusive. How deep down she knows that he is taking every piece of joy out of her, and part of her wants him to take it all. And the inner narrative of her not wanting us, the audience, to see her when she is at her low point after being abused by her ex-boyfriend, but how she wants us to see her strong, whether it is in full command of her sexuality on stage or fully in command of herself after her powers have been revealed.

It is wonderful. I read the comic book, wanting to continue the journey, and thought it was serviceable. And as I was driving around on comic book Wendesday, the story got deeper and deeper into me. And I loved it more and more. I re-read it a second time, and I could feel the character of Flamingo.

It is so easy to put characters into a stereotype, a basic character meme and not develop them further. Peter is the angry young man; Kris is the brainy anti-establishment girl; Faith is the fat nerd girl. It would be so easy to put Charlene into the loose moraled, high school slut category. But the book rises above that.

And the artwork from Barry Kitson (and others) is pretty good. I never liked how Faith has looked in previous issues, and here she looks less like a cartoon fat girl. I still think the art team has made her too ‘huge’ looking, but it is much better, certainly.

I’m giving this my highest rating, even though it doesn’t quite deserve it. A truly great comic fills you with something, and then gives you a reason that you want to come back next month for even more. But this is such a lovely entre into the girl’s life, and those moments stayed with me when the (digital) pages were closed.

Valiant comics is doing something really good here. Harbinger is quickly turning into their flagship title. And for an old school Valiant fan, it is a delight to see and read.

I know that not everyone will feel this way about this comic, but I hope that many of give this one a try to discover it for yourselves.

Verdict

A perfect character story, back story, and origin all wrapped up in a nice package. It is truly a rare thing. You should check this one out. I think it’s pretty special.

Overall Grade: 10.0 (Special)

 

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