“Do not think of knocking out another person’s brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago.”
― Horace Mann
Valiant Entertainment’s Harbinger Renegade #2 (written by Rafer Roberts) is well constructed with multiple layers of character depth. It is a quality continuation and expansion of the Harbinger story (the present version which began in 2012) that pays respect to its own history. It also continues with introducing new characters such as Alexander Solomon (who first appeared in Harbinger Renegade #1) and Tamara (who is suspected to have first appeared in Book of Death #1). The pacing is appropriate, and there are a number of flashbacks which support plot development and fill in the gaps following the events of Harbinger and Harbinger: Omegas.
Artwork was handled by two separate art teams: a prologue by artist Juan Jose Ryp and colorist Frankie D’Armata, and the main story by penciler Darick Robertson, inker Richard Clark, and colorist Diego Rodriquez.
For the prologue, (the normally hyper-detailed) Ryp demonstrates a level of artistic restraint, drawing each character or setting with clean lines an appropriate amount of contour hatching. Perhaps the best example of Ryp’s work is one that artists often struggle with; face consistency. Many artists find it difficult to draw the same character panel after panel, page after page with noticeable variations in the consistent appearance and proportions of a given character’s face. Ryp does not suffer from this, and manages complete consistency from start to finish. His pages depicting Solomon and the Bleeding Monk are particularly effective uses of minimal pencil and ink to focus on the characters and their interaction with out distraction. Those pages are brought to life by colorist D’Armata who provides textured color backgrounds with color gradation for shading and lighting. Visually speaking, the artwork demonstrated in this prologue is arguably superior to the artwork of the main story.
For the main story, Robertson pairs with Clark for pencils and inks. The art team has its moments; however, there are a number of artistic variations in Pete’s face, often with cartoonish proportions and odd neck dimensions. Solomon’s facial appearance (and beard) is significantly different towards the beginning of the main story from what is seen later (he goes from looking like boxer Roy Jones Jr to later looking like actor Idris Elba. With movie plans in the future, it would make sense to tailor Solomon to Idris Elba similar to how Marvel tailored Nick Fury to Samuel L. Jackson) and Faith’s face is so swollen that it almost looks as if she is having an allergic reaction. The little girl Carolyn appears creepy and strange. Robertson does shine at time, specifically for pages that feature Pete in space; however, Robertson demonstrates a lack of research on Torque as during his fight, he start bleeding from his nose all over the place. The problem is that Torque is a 100 pound crippled boy inside a larger psychic projection shell, and (assuming for a moment that such a thing were real) it is not possible for a psychic projection shell to bleed. Any blood would be internal to the shell, and contained within in the same way that the real Torque is contained within the shell. Understood, drawing blood is cool and is more interesting to look at; however, Robertson would do well to maintain the consistency that Valiant is well-known for. Clark’s inks are clean and show Robertson well. Colorist Rodriquez uses the same color palette as Harbinger Renegade #1 which provides a familiar and quality appearance. Environments look organic, and color gradation is used well; especially for each character, to provide depth and dimension to each.
Harbinger Renegade #2 succeeds as an entertaining, well crafted story filled with compelling characters and a promising future. Artistically, there is room for improvement so that this story can achieve the greatness that it rightly deserves.