By Matt Kindt, Tomas Giorello, Diego Rodriguez
Double crosses and crossed lines mark the opening salvo in the Prelude to Harbinger Wars 2. The event kicks in in earnest with the thrilling Harbinger Wars 2 #1.
Valiant Entertainment has been heralding Harbinger Wars 2 as its most ambitious event yet. The enormity of the cast plus the scope of the storyline promise that the ramifications of this story will be felt across the entire Valiant universe. The original Harbinger Wars changed the status quo but was primarily a secret war. Now the world at large is aware of psiots, meaning this battle will be waged in the public eye. The severity of the actions taken in Prelude, plus the anticipated violence from this issue guarantee that life will drastically changed when the dust settles.
Writer Matt Kindt ratchets up the tension. Where Prelude introduced the first blow, HW2 #1 lays the groundwork for the key players. It also heightens the emotions. This story crosses multiple titles, bringing in the original members of Unity (Livewire, Ninjak, X-O Manowar) and other title characters such as Bloodshot and the Renegades. Present as well are the teams from Secret Weapons, Omen, and H.A.R.D. Corps. That’s just scratching the surface – Harbinger Wars 2 has every indication of becoming a universe-wide war.
The book takes place during the calm before the storm, sometime after Livewire’s shocking action in Prelude but before any consequences have been dealt. Kindt tells the story from multiple fronts. There’s the continuation of the story begun in Harbinger Renegade, with Peter Stanchek on the run from Omen while attempting to activate as many psiots who are willing. We’re privy to the government response to the “psiot threat”. Yet another focus is on Livewire and her team, which has grown in a surprising way. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the story is the way in which the characters behave. They are all “in-character”, but previous stories portrayed them as tipping heavily to being either “good” or “bad”. Here the lines are blurred, sometimes by disturbing indicators, and the heroes’ actions may not be viewed as heroic depending on your point of view.
The coalescing of these multiple vantage points results in highly charged anticipation and a bit of dread as we face the inevitable. There’s a lot in motion here, but it never feels overwhelming or shortchanged.
Artist Tomas Giorello and colorist Diego Rodriguez complete the creative team. Art collectors will be chasing down these beautifully rendered splash pages featuring major Valiant characters. Giorello’s distinctive and detailed pencils add to the gravitas of the plot. He keeps the story flowing evenly through both action and dialogue-heavy scenes. His use of creative panel layouts assists with this greatly.
Giorello’s splash pages are dynamic, and Rodriguez’s work enhances them. Notable examples of this are the gorgeous space scenes featuring X-O Manowar. Rodriguez’s palette heightens the drama of the story, matching the psychological aspects of scenes – for instance, clandestine meetings are depicted with darker tones and cloaked in shadows. All in all, the artwork rises to the excitement of the storyline. Giorello and Rodriguez make a solid artistic team and are a good choice for such a significant story.
Harbinger Wars 2 #1 is loaded with action and emotion. If you read one event this year, it needs to be Harbinger Wars 2. Its extensive cast, featuring cross-title characters and the expansive, universe-impacting storyline make this potentially one of the most important stories in the Valiant universe to date.