Saturday, January 31, 2015
Harbinger: Overall-Part 2 (Classic Valiant)
Superpowered young adult Faith Herbert has recently been enrolled in the sinister Harbinger Foundation's school for similarly gifted teenagers. While Faith is instantly suspicious of the school especially thanks to her missing memories of her past, it takes a while longer before the friends she makes come to the same conclusion...
In Part 1 of my overall post for Valiant series Harbinger, I discussed at length how much of a misogynistic and unfocused series it is. It's poorly written, poorly characterised, and is a pain to read. After Issue #25, the series was basically over, but it still kept going post-#26, with an almost completely new cast. It was even briefly retitled The New Harbingers before instantly reverting back to the original title come Issue #27. I wish it would've kept the new one, as this is basically a different series. It focuses on the same villains, but Issue #25 felt like the conclusion to that series, and continuing on would be unnecessary.
The writing in Issues #26 to #41 of Harbinger is mediocre at best, but is thankfully rarely terrible, and almost never misogynistic.
Harbinger's main story meanders for several issues, and doesn't start advancing the main story arc until Issue #35! By then, it was too late, and there were only seven issues (making up only two-and-a-half stories) left in the series' life before it was cancelled. All in all, the only way it advanced the story arc was by having Faith and her friends realize Harada's evil, eventually starting up a team of Renegades. The Foundation try to kidnap them, fail a couple of times, and then the series just ends, on a miserable note with the pointless death of one of the leads. This is the biggest problem Harbinger ever had-The story never advanced! Ever! The series is always at Square 1, and when it finally moves mere inches forward in Issue #25, it gets scared and friggin' backpedals, restarting the Renegades plot from scratch, which is a plot you'll recall we already read 26 previous issues about! This is lazy recycling, and the series suffered for it. The reason nothing ever moved forward can be traced to one problem-Rai #0, Basically the Valiant Universe bible, it spoiled everything of what was yet to come in Valiant's future, including the state of Toyo Harada, who survives basically unimpeded all the way to the 2900's, where he's torn apart the world for nearly a thousand years before he's stopped once and for all. This comic was dreadful in so many ways, the worst being how it set each Valiant series on an unshakeable predetermined course, none getting less free will than Harbinger. So what's the point of even having a Harbinger series if nothing ever can come from it?!
The characters in these issues are mixed. The leads are certainly a likeable bunch, thankfully, but they don't have enough to them, never get enough development, and what little they do get feels rushed, as there was so little lead-up to it.
Faith, the only returning character from the first half of Harbinger, is completely out-of-character here. All the happiness, and lighthearted joy she once had is gone, and her personality is all wrong. This doesn't come across as character development, but rather that this is a completely different person who just happens to also be named Faith Herbert
My favourite character in this whole bunch is Amazon, the tall and super strong, yet meek student. Just like with Stronghold and Livewire, I more like her as a character based on her potential rather than what little we actually got with her.
The villains over these issues are boring. At first, there's a mildly interesting turn of events when a schism starts to happen in the higher echelon of the Harbinger Foundation, but unfortunately Harada wakes up from his coma, just over five issues after he fell into the damn thing, which totally invalidates the climactic events of Issue #25, and renders this schism storyline null and void! As for his character, Harada is just the same as before. He's a murderous cackling (figuratively) madman who has zero personality. His character never advances, because Rai #0 ensured that it never can.
A new villain, lazily named The Harbinger, is introduced in the final few issues, but this amounts to little story, as the series is over by that point, which I bet must have gotten the writers really scared, as that meant they'd have no more stories to develop this new villain until the 'shocking' reveal of his secret identity. Luckily for them, they got that chance in later Valiant series The Visitor.
Well that does it for Harbinger. While this second 'half' of the series was better that the first, it's still a wasteful sixteen issues, and amounts to nothing. Harbinger is a terrible series, through and through...