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Advance Review: Harbinger: Renegades #1

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By Rafer Roberts, Raul Allen, Patricia Martin, Juan Jose Ryp, Frankie D’Armata, Darick Robertson, Richard Clark, and Diego Rodriquez.

“Read. Read. Read. Just don’t read one type of book. Read different books by various authors so that you develop different styles…”
― R. L. Stine

Harbinger #1 was released in January of 1992, and was listed numerous times in numorous “Top 10” lists, including “The Ten Most Important Comic Books of the 1990s“ (source: 2006 The Sequart Organization) and “The Top 10 Comic Books of the 1990s” (source: 2014 The Top Lister). In 2012 when Valiant Entertainment re-launched, Harbinger was the second title released by the publisher, and with very good reason; Harbinger is in many ways the foundation which the Valiant Universe was built upon.

There is a lot of buzz surrounding Harbinger right now, and the title is more relevant than ever. Sony Pictures has moved the Harbinger movie to the front of a growing list of Valiant films in development, and the released of Harbinger: Renegades #1 allows for a truly exciting world of possibility and expansion for many readers and fans of the series.

Since 2012, writer Joshua Dysart has methodically established the Harbinger mythos brick-by-brick with unrivaled strategic vision (Dysart wrote Harbinger #1 through #25, Harbinger Wars #1 through #4, Harbinger Omegas #1 through #3, Imperium #1 through #16, and Armor Hunters: Harbinger #1 through #3). For many longtime readers, the departure of Dysart from Harbinger (upon the conclusion of Imperium) sparked much concern for the future and direction of Harbinger with readers and fans as many feared a significant shift in direction, style, or substance. When it was announced that writer Rafer Roberts would take over the title, there were certainly mixed emotions, not due to the quality of Roberts work (he is well received by many readers and fans) but due to his different writing style and approach as opposed to Dysart’s.

Roberts clearly understood this reality, and while staying true to what has made him a respected and talented writer, has with Harbinger: Renegades #1, created a bit of his own magic with the characters and title. Readers and fans will likely be pleased with this story which is presented in three sections as discussed below.

INTRODUCTION: Roberts briefly re-tells the basic Harbinger story with three pages brilliantly drawn by artist Raul Allen and colored by Patricia Martin. Roberts brings new readers up to date, what also reminding long time readers of the primary plot points of the Harbinger series (which re-launched in June of 2012) issues #1 through #25. While no mention of the events of Harbinger: Omegas, Imperium, or Bleeding Monk are made in this introduction, the main goal here is to serve as a reminder of who and what “The Renegades” are as well as their dedicated purpose and history. The art team of Allen and Martin (as was regularly seen in the phenomenal series Wrath of the Eternal Warrior issues #1 through #10) is as basic, yet completely genius as ever with their masterfully iconic and minimalistic artistic approach. Using only six colors (if you include black ink as a color) Allen and Martin capture the motion of flight, the furry of battle, and the characterization of “The Renegades” with perhaps the best example of the latter being page two Kris, Faith, Flamingo, AX, and Torque are each depicted perfectly.

PROLOGUE: Roberts re-introduces readers to Toyo Harada and his Harbinger Foundation, as well as a new (likely key) player in the Harbinger Universe who in a few panels demonstrate himself to be quite formidable and impressive. The prologue reads similar to what readers are accustomed to in the pages of Harbinger and Imperium, which should be a welcome style for fans of the series. Artist Juan Jose Ryp demonstrates a bit of artistic restraint (to a degree of course. Ryp still is quite detailed) with the level of detail he includes in each panel, and does a fantastic job creating settings in Chicago and Spain. Colorist Frankie D’Armata matches Ryp’s pencils and inks quite well, and uses a natural color palette to do so. D’Armata provides several panels of color that feature appropriate glowing effects from sunsets (complete with correctly placed reflections on characters and objects), in addition to vivid and brightly rendered fire and lightning psiot powers.

STORY: Roberts tells a story the feels like a solid blending of what made the original 1992 Harbinger series enjoyable with elements of what made the modern 2012 Harbinger series strong as a title. There is certainly a comic book feel to this story, which matches perfectly with artist Darick Robertson pencils (which are inked by Richard Clark). Roberts style is clearly different from Dysart, which of course should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Dysart and Roberts. However, while Dysart’s vision for and work on the Harbinger Universe over the past four years was no less than phenomenal in every possible way, Roberts does not disappoint with his take on the series. Robert’s style works here, and again feels like a classic Harbinger storyline sprinkled with the promise of epic potential! Robertson and Clark match well, and create artwork that features a traditional comic book style and approach with clean lines, and a blend of shading with hatching for shadows and texture. Colorist Diego Rodriquez pairs well with Robertson and Clark; however, the three artists shine best in the final three pages of this story which will no doubt be among the most visually memorable of this issue for readers and fans alike. The four panels on page #4 of the main story are arguably a possible contender for Most Visually Memorable award.

Since 1992, Harbinger has stood as a flagship title and beacon of hope for comic book excellence in the Valiant Universe; as well as the entire comic book genre. Harbinger: Renegades is a nostalgic, yet fresh and captivating joyride that brilliantly blends the best of the yesterday and today. This is a very strong beginning to what appears to be a quality approach to Valiant Entertainment’s next chapter in outstanding series.

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