Friday, January 9, 2015
Harbinger #19 and #20 (Classic Valiant)
The superhuman Harbinger Renegades attack the malevolent Harbinger Foundation in order to 'rescue' new recruit Natalie Toynbee, a snooty British rich girl. The team's success is short-lived when a mercenary hired by Natalie's father easily tranqs the whole group in order to acquire the young woman and take her back home. Not only does the menacing Kaliph take Natalie, but also team leader Pete, due to his powerful abilities. The team follows Kaliph to Iran, where they plot to get their friend, and potential new member back...
This is a frustrating story, in the respect that the mere presence of the main characters causes the story's problems. If the Renegades weren't involved, the Kaliph would've saved Natalie Toynbee from Harbinger and delivered her back to her father. The End. And if Harada tries to take her back, in that super illegal way he always does, he'll have the full force of a senator raining hell down upon him.
While there's quite a bit of decent action in this story, the plot is rather hollow, and the ending is infuriating, as it renders everything pointless! This is worse than accomplishing nothing. It's accomplishing something, then going back on it!
The main characters are bland this issue, while Natalie is way too underdeveloped, as is the villain Kaliph. He does get some good scenes, but they're not enough. Especially odd is the ending, which nearly adds some depth to the character, but comes too late and ends too soon.
There are plenty of idiotic small scenes throughout this two-parter, such as how the Renegades don't have the money for new furniture, but they're well off enough to buy five tickets to Iran, at short notice! The character Screen mentions that he was able to custom hassles, but it's not elaborated what that means. Did they take a chartered flight? And why? They don't have guns, or a litany of daggers! They're a bunch of teenagers with no luggage!
Another dumb moment comes when the team arrives in Iran. They discuss how the need to find Kaliph, approach the first man they see-a beggar-, ask him if he knows anything about Kaliph, and he does! He then proceeds to tell the Renegades exactly where he is! Well that's lucky!
And then there's the ending to Issue #19, where the Renegade's landlord angrily berates the unconscious teens for having a party despite his strict house rules, even though it's very clear that the apartments been attacked, not partied in. What's worse is that due to the abrupt transition between issues (#20 starts with the team already in Iran), we never get to see him realize what's actually going on and apologize for being a presumptuous dick.
The writing is pretty meh here. There's some poor expository dialogue, of characters asking things they should already know. Faith gets some pretty bad dialogue at the start of Issue #19. It's meant to be her superhero monologueing, but it comes across as incredibly stilted, and painful to read.
One final note on the stupid writing is the name of the villain-Kaliph. That's a Middle-Eastern political and religious rank, not a name. Especially stupid is that they mention the 'name' to one random dude in Iran, and he instantly knows who they're talking about, and treats the name in hushed tones. Geez, what'd happen if people are talking about any other Caliph!
If you're looking for a comic to piss you off, then look no further than this two-parter. It'll do the job!..