Thursday, January 8, 2015
Harbinger #0 (Classic Valiant)
Like so many other Valiant comics before it, the first issue of series Harbinger started off in media res, with little to no background or establishment on who the main characters were, what their goals are, who's fighting them, and why. All of that was said to be explained in Issue #0, but that comic was only released as a coupon prize, for a 'contest' that ended once the series was six issues (and months) in.
Peter Stanchek is a teenager who realizes that he has strange superhuman powers. He's telekinetic, telepathic, and possibly more, and when he sends a letter to the Harbinger Foundation, an organization specializing in helping troubled youths, he finds out that their true purpose is training what they call Harbingers. Pete happily goes along with them, learning how to perfects his powers in the process, which he uses to make popular schoolgirl Kris Hathaway be his girlfriends. After a few months, Pete's friend Joe refuses to stand for Peter's new = or his shady handlers any longer, leading to devastating consequences...
story flies by as basically a montage, never staying in one scene long enough to build character, or leave an impression. This is worsened by the fifteen page length. Technically fourteen, as there's a very confusing two-page spread. It's funny how this type of gimmick is sometimes used to make a scene feel more epic, but in fact can rob a scene completely of cohesion, due to the fact that instead of letting a whole two pages worth of panels tell the story, we only get one panel.
There's very little character to anyone in this issue. The main villain Harada is extremely underdeveloped, while the conflict between Pete and Joe is pretty rushed and cliched. Onto Peter himself, he's very unlikeable. I know that's meant to be the point, to try (but not beyond this issue) to illustrate 'complex' moral themes, but in my opinion, a character can grow to likeability after committing a grave wrong after much growth and atonement if they only did this mistake over one day (like Peter does in the current remake of Harbinger), but when they keep up the mind rape for three months, there's no going back from that! That character is a scumbag, and I don't wanna read a series about him!
There's very little character to Kris either. We never get any insight into her head, or learn how she feels about what Peter did to her (aside from her briefly ranting to him), and there's no transition to her wanting to cut Pete's dick off to suddenly feeling for him, and wanting to help him. There's also no explanation showing how they grew into a proper relationship, and a very physically intimate one at that, despite what Peter did to Kris.
The art here is ok, despite some missteps (such as the confusing two-page spread). The cover is a cluttered mess, and Peter's legs are very poorly drawn!
As it turns out, the origin of Harbinger is just as bad as the rest of the series, go figure!...