I’ve been reading both “Harbinger” and “Bloodshot” since the new Valiant Entertainment launched the titles, so I should be the target audience for “Harbinger Wars” #1, the first issue in a mini-series that lets both books’ plot lines finally converge. But while Joshua Dysart, Duane Swierczynski, Clayton Henry, Clayton Crain and Mico Suayan try their hardest, I can’t help but feel that this is less than the sum of its parts.
Dysart writes the book (with a co-plot credit for Swierczynski), and he has the daunting task of explaining the war between Toyo Harada, Project Rising Spirit, Bloodshot and Pete Stanchek and his fellow renegades. Maybe that’s ultimately part of the problem, here; Dysart has to do a lot of explaining, even with an infographic on the inside front cover to try and bring readers up to speed. The end result is a comic with a lot of set-up that feels like it’s biding its time; the creative team touches base with all four major parties, but none of them are that grabbing of a story.
That’s not to say that it’s a disaster, because it’s not. There are still some little moments here that will hopefully spark a new reader’s attention. The scene with Pete and the rest of the “Harbinger” crew is fun; Dysart’s that title’s regular author and he’s definitely created all of their voices as separate, distinct characters. The somewhat good-natured bickering feels to be just the right amount, and the “gotcha” moment is genuinely startling when it unfolds. There’s also a few great bits when we see Bloodshot storm another Rising Spirit facility, thanks to how some of the kids react. Monica’s lion is adorable, and the fear and confusion from the children sounds just right. It almost balances out the dull opening scene of the Psiot children storming a base in China, which feels like a small eternity in its eight pages.
I think part of the problem may also be the multiple artists tackling the title. None of them are bad, but even though two of them might be named Clayton, there’s no consistency between them. I’d have loved to see Henry take the art chores for the entire title; his clean pages are the most readable and probably the best suited for the kind of feel the book seems to be aiming for. That’s nothing against Crain and Suayan; they’re both good too, but there’s something about the textures on their pages (Crain’s in particular) that don’t seem to quite click with the script.
“Harbinger Wars” #1 isn’t a bad start, but it’s also not as fun as I would have expected. After all the build-up to this moment, this should’ve been a huge explosion of energy and action. Instead? It’s plodding along in places. This is a comic that had so much good material setting it all up, it’s ultimately a little frustrating that it isn’t living up to all of that promise and source material.