by Joshua Dysart and Kano
Book of Death: The Fall of Harbinger is one of the most highly anticipated in the series. Writer Joshua Dysart and artist Kano collaborate to present the fates of some of the most beloved and controversial characters in the Valiant Universe. The result is spectacular.
The “Fall of” books are one-shots that jump ahead into the future, telling the circumstances of the deaths of major Valiant players as well as tantalizing bits of their history that have yet to come to pass. All of these books have been solid and emotional stories, but Harbinger takes it to another level. Dysart doesn’t just give readers an ending, he provides closure.
At the core of the previous Harbinger and ongoing Imperium series is Toyo Harada, omega-level psiot. His foil is Pete Stanchek, another omega-level psiot whose own ideologies are in opposition to Harada’s. The result of their confrontation in the pages of the Harbinger series birthed Imperium. While Pete is not currently involved in the Imperium storyline, as the previews indicate, his story is far from over. Without giving away anything that hasn’t been revealed in previews, Dysart gets the band back together. In the process, readers are given a chance to reflect on who these people were and what they meant to each other. It’s said that you can never go home again, but it feels like it’s possible for a fleeting moment in these poignant scenes.
The glimpses into the future reveal some surprises and will likely cause readers to experience a range of emotions. There is the inevitable sadness here, but also a sense of pride in the personal growth of these characters. Above all, there is a sense of hope. Readers may be struck by the idea that in telling Pete’s story, he is also speaking directly to us, illuminating universal truths about perception and self. Dysart is both an excellent character writer and politically savvy, and he uses both traits to great success here, deftly pointing out that history is a point of view, not just of the victors but also of the survivors.
Artist Kano illustrated and colored the book. His depiction of the cosmos is stunning; the colors vivid and other-worldly. He depicts complex concepts such as transcendence and essence with a clarity that enhances the storyline. The occasional use of silhouettes in place of detailed visages is another clever way to illustrate a battle that is more than the physical. His use of color is intentional and effective.
Book of Death: The Fall of Harbinger is a must-read for any Valiant fan. Emotional and intelligent, this story of endings leaves readers with such a sense of peace and hope, that it isn’t an ending at all, but a rebirth. Like a phoenix rises from the ashes.