A Valiant Read #6: Harbinger Wars

A Valiant Read #6: Harbinger Wars

A Valiant Read” is a regular column in which we highlight some of the best jumping-on points for the Valiant Universe. Find out more.

A Valiant Read is here yet again for another spotlight on the jumping-on points of the Valiant Universe! This time around we’re taking a look at Valiant’s first comic book event, Harbinger Wars.

Read on to find out all about this story, its major players, recommended reading order, and heaps more.

Harbinger Wars #2 cover by Clayton Henry.
Harbinger Wars #2 cover by Clayton Henry.

Who Are The Major Players?

Harbinger Wars contains a lot of characters. Some of them are preexisting, coming from either the Bloodshot or Harbinger comic book series, while others are brand new. Valiant does a great job getting you up to speed with each of the characters as you read, but if you want a little bit of background before you dive in then check out the below.

Psiots

These are individuals in the Valiant Universe who have a genetic predisposition to super-powers. While they’re born with these abilities, they do not know they even have these powers until they’re switched on through a moment of extreme stress.

Psiots’ powers are usually psychic in nature and can include anything from telekinesis, teleportation, flight, psychic projections, and much more.

Harbinger Wars art by Clayton Henry.
Harbinger Wars art by Clayton Henry.

Peter Stanchek and the Renegades

The Renegades are a group of four psiots and a regular human who oppose everything Toyo Harada (see below) stands for. The group consists of:

  • Peter Stanchek: An incredibly powerful psiot, who has only recently come to grasp with his powers. He was once the prized pupil of Toyo Harada until he rebelled once he discovered Harada’s true intentions.
  • Zepher (aka Faith): An geeky girl with a heart of gold. She has the ability of flight.
  • Torque: John Torkelson is a disabled young man who can move by creating a psychic projection around his body.
  • Flamingo: Charlene Dupre can create and manipulate fire.
  • Kris: The only non-psiot on the team. She is smart, resourceful, and incredibly sarcastic.
Harbinger Wars art by Barry Kitson.

Toyo Harada

Toyo Harada is the billionaire founder of the Harbinger Foundation and one of the most powerful psiots in the Valiant Universe. Combined with his vast resources and almost limitless powers, his goal is to shape the world in his image.

Toyo started the Harbinger Foundation as a way to teach young psiots, but his true intentions are to use them in his personal army. He would prefer to control them all to remove any potential opposition.

Harbinger Wars art by Clayton Henry.
Harbinger Wars art by Clayton Henry.

Bloodshot

Bloodshot is a one-man-army that has millions of nanites in his blood that allows him to do all kinds of incredible things. He can heal from almost any injury, has heightened senses, increased strength, and heaps more.

Controlled by Project Rising Spirit (see below), he was a tool for their dirty work. This included going on dangerous covert missions and cleaning up their many mistakes. None of this was by choice, though. Project Rising Spirit manipulated Bloodshot with false memories of family as motivation.

Bloodshot eventually broke free of PSR’s influence and has been searching for his true identity ever since.

Project Rising Spirit

Project Rising Spirit is a shady government organisation who is best known in comics for creating Bloodshot. They also have a habit of capturing psiot children to take advantage of their super-powered abilities.

Harbinger Wars Deluxe Edition cover by Clayton Crain.
Harbinger Wars Deluxe Edition cover by Clayton Crain.

Review

Written by Joshua Dysart and Duane Swierczynski. Art by Clayton Henry, Clayton Crain, Mico Suayan, Pere Pérez, Barry Kitson, Khari Evans, and Trevor Hairsine. Inked by Stefano Gaudiano, Mark Pennington. Coloured by Brian Reber and Ian Hannin. Lettered by Dave Lanphear and Rob Steen.

Issues covered: Harbinger Wars #1-4. Harbinger (2012 series) #11-14 and Bloodshot (2012 series) #10-13.

A Valiant Read’s coverage is at approximately the end of the first year of publication for the modern Valiant Universe. While most of the comics have kept to themselves, while also acknowledging the existence of the others, Bloodshot and Harbinger have been closely linked. It was only a matter of time before the two series collided. And that’s exactly what happened in the Harbinger Wars comic book event.

With “war” in the title, you would be right in suggesting that there is some kind of conflict. It’s an all-out war on the Vegas strip between Toyo Harada’s Harbinger Foundation and Project Rising Spirit, with both parties wanting psiot children to use as weapons. Throw Bloodshot and The Renegades into the mix and you have a chaotic situation.

Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with any of the characters. Dysart and Swierczynski use an interrogation between government agencies as a way to get readers up to speed with everything you need to know. It’s also great as a framing device to transition between what’s going on between the scores of characters.

As is often the case with comic book events, Harbinger Wars features tie-in issues that expand the story. Concurrent issues of Harbinger and Bloodshot show events from a different perspective. Sometimes this can get repetitive as both tie-in series will recap events that are seen in the main series. Where they excel is in filling the blanks of events we don’t see in the main series. Harbinger does this the best with a serialised flashback story that explores the history between Toyo Harada and Project Rising Spirit. Why this works is because it gives readers further context to their conflict that you don’t get to see to otherwise.

It’s not necessary to read the tie-ins to understand Harbinger Wars. The main series offers a full story from start to end. If you’re liking what you’re reading and want more then check them out.

When you factor the in the tie-ins, there’s a whole army of artists on Harbinger Wars. Usually, this feels disjointed as the story jumps randomly from different styles. This works to Harbinger Wars advantage with different artists used for different characters. This allows for visual distinction for each group’s perspective and is easy to show readers scenes have changed.

For all the reasons above, Harbinger is a solid debut event for the Valiant Universe. If this your first taste of Valiant then you’ll get a crash course on both the Harbinger and Bloodshot which will leave you with plenty of avenues to explore afterwards.

Reading Order Guide

If you’re looking to read the entirety of Harbinger Wars then this is the recommended reading order.

Bolded issues indicate that they are part of the main story.

  • Harbinger Wars #1
  • Harbinger #11 (tie-in)
  • Bloodshot #10 (tie-in)
  • Harbinger Wars #2
  • Harbinger #12 (tie-in)
  • Bloodshot #11 (tie-in)
  • Harbinger Wars #3
  • Harbinger #13 (tie-in)
  • Bloodshot #12 (tie-in)
  • Harbinger Wars #4
  • Harbinger #14 (tie-in)
  • Bloodshot #13 (tie-in)

If you’re looking to read it all in a collected format, track down these trade paperbacks:

  • Harbinger Wars
  • Harbinger Volume 3: Harbinger Wars
  • Bloodshot Volume 3: Harbinger Wars

There’s also the Deluxe Edition, which collects all of the issues involved in a single hardcover.

Find these volumes in all good comic book shops, online stores, digitally, and on eBay.

Further Reading

So what should read after Harbinger Wars? Check out Harbinger from volume 4 onwards (issue #15 onwards) and/or Bloodshot volume 4 (issue #14 onwards).

The V Awards

Each edition of A Valiant Read I give out awards to various concepts, characters, and ideas. The winners this time are…

The So Many Teams Award
Winner:
Harbinger Wars

There is a hell of a lot of teams in this series. Of the top of my head, I count five which include the Harbinger Foundation, The Renegades, H.A.R.D. Corps, Bloodshot & the Escaped Psiots, and Generation Zero.

You’d think that would be hard to keep track of everyone but Harbinger Wars does a fantastic job with who’s who and their movements. There is also an informative infographic before each issue which sum-up each of the teams and their members.

That’s Not Going To Be Good For Business Award
Winner:
The Bellagio Hotel and Casino

Super-powered conflict, full of gun-fire, explosions, and destruction is never good for business. And when you read Harbinger Wars, you’ll see that it’s not good for the Bellagio. It’s not good for anyone.

Harbinger Wars art by Clayton Henry.
Harbinger Wars art by Clayton Henry.

Best New Power
Winner:
Animalia

Harbinger Wars introduces a lot of new characters in this event in the form of Psiot children. Each of them has a unique power and most of them are quite creative.

The one that caught my attention was Animalia’s who can create psychic constructs of animals. What makes her powers stand out is that all of the animals are cartoony because she has never seen a real animal – just ones in cartoons and picture books.

Next Time…

Join How to Love Comics in two weeks time when we return to X-O Manowar for a jumping-on point that sets up Valiant’s second year of publication.

Have Your Say!

Will you be be reading Harbinger Wars? Sound off in the comments below or via Facebook or Twitter.

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