Friday, January 30, 2015

Harbinger #35, #36, and #37 (Classic Valiant)

Superpowered Harbinger Faith has gone rogue from the Harbinger Foundation in an effort to locate her parents, and along the way, meets up with a teen her age named Jack, and his uncle. They help Faith when the Foundation's cruel soldiers come to kidnap her, but they may have too much ahead of them when they learn about Harbinger's Aerospace program, which could spell the end of hundreds of innocent teenagers...

This three-parter of Harbinger is a load of crap! The story is broken to begin with, as numerous aspects to it breaks continuity really badly. 1, Harada's space program is only very recent, and hasn't been in the making for decades; 2 While Harada has made pairings of people with Harbinger qualities,  to act as breeders, he only did so through purging their minds clean, with eventual plans of adding false memories-He gave no-one a choice; and 3, Faith HAS no fucking parents! She has grandparents! She always has! While the early series never says what happened to her parents, it's a pretty safe bet that they died when she was very young, which is completely contrary to what this story, as well as later issues, suggest. Even if they are really alive, they certainly have nothing to do with the Harbinger Foundation, as the Foundation knew nothing about Faith before she became a Renegade! Her first ever exposure to the Foundation was when she sent them a letter, and that was never even seen by them, as it was intercepted by Pete Stanchek!

Faith herself is another big problem with this story. It treats her like she's a messiah, even giving her an important past decades in the making that was 'leading to greatness within the Harbinger Foundation', which she denied. The problem with this is that misses the point, and is the polar opposite of who Faith is! The whole point of Faith of all people starting the rebellion is that she's just a lighthearted second-stringer, and specifically doesn't have a messianic backstory!

The Harbinger space program part of the story is extremely poorly handled. Why is it so screwed up? Why didn't Harada know, and why couldn't he fix it? All this does to serve the story is torpedo an arc that's been going on in the pages of The HARD Corps for about two years, and to have an explosion at the climax. It also ensures that Faith doesn't actually have to lift a finger to destroy the Aerospace facility!

Faith is a boring whiner, as well as a mostly useless lead character, and any cheery fun she once had is long gone. She has little chemistry with her love interest Jack, and it certainly seems out-of-character that she'd bang him, especially on the same day that his uncle was murdered! He even admits that he loves this girl, and he's barely known her for more than two days! Especially annoying is that thanks to a line from Magnus, the story confirms that Faith and Jack will get married and be together forever! Well so much for free will! It's pre-determinism all the way, that's the Valiant motto!

Magnus' involvement in this story amounts to nothing besides fighting Faith's battles for her, which is not only a deus ex machina, but takes away from her, as the hero of the story isn't getting much of anything done herself, but rather needs the help of a man. A man who yells at her, and calls her 'Woman'!

Not only is Magnus a total deus ex machina, but his presence here is also very confusing to anyone who hasn't read 1, Magnus, Robot Fighter, 2, the main Chaos Effect comic, and 3, the Magnus-centric Chaos Effect Epilogue that directly ties into this story.

Harada is a boring villain here, and beside talking menacingly to Faith a couple of times, he does practically nothing. Also, if any Valiant elitist wants to tell me that Toyo Harada is a morally sympathetic and ambiguous villain, then please, feel free to explain to me how we can readily sympathize and potentially even agree with a villain who casually orders the murder of an innocent teenager and the disposal of his body, or in how he expresses ownership over other human beings without their consent!

The rest of the characters are dull. We see very little of the rest of the B-Team, while we finally see Beatrice again, but unfortunately not for long, and she adds nothing to the story, then it abruptly ends. It's a shame. She's my favourite character from the second half of Harbinger (not that she had much competition), but is also the most underused.

The art here is ok, while the covers are mixed. Issue #35's is quite good, while #36's isn't as much, and #37 is just bizarre, with its non-sequitur group shot, and extremely clashing out-of-place painted-style cover. One annoying quality to all these covers is how they constantly lie about the individual story titles!

This storyline is one of the last remaining from this series, and there's very little left of any worth in this series...

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