In the earliest chapters of Duane Swierczynski’s relaunch of Valiant Entertainment’s “Bloodshot,” the writer planted major clues about the book’s connection to Joshua Dysart’s re-imagined “Harbinger” in what appeared simply to be a way to subtly continue to unite the Valiant Universe of titles. Next year, however, Swierczynski and Dysart make that connection blatanatly concrete as they co-write “Harbinger Wars,” a four-issue miniseries illustrated by Clayton Henry that sends Peter Stanchek, the Renegades, Toyo Harada and Bloodshot on a collision course with explosive results.
The lead up to “Harbinger Wars” begins in “Bloodshot” #7, which continues the title character’s raid on Project Rising Spirit, leading to the discovery of a location called the Nursery: a place designed to house a number of powerhouse Harbinger children. The miniseries explores what happens when they escape from the Nursery and unleash themselves on the world, and how Bloodshot, Peter and Harada approach the unique situation.
Swierczynski and Dysart spoke exclusively with CBR about the upcoming crossover miniseries, how the development began from the inception of “Bloodshot” and “Harbinger,” the meaning behind “Harbinger Wars” and thoughts on crossover events in comics.
CBR News: Josh, Duane — tell us about Harbinger Wars. How do these two books come together for this miniseries?
Duane Swierczynski: In “Bloodshot” #7, it’s revealed that Bloodshot is kind of a Harbinger hunter. He’s done a bunch of missions over the years while he’d been working for Project Rising Spirit — black ops and wetworks. Among those missions was this quest to find these Harbingers, these kids that he’s rounding up. This was during the time that his memory was being wiped, he was a blind slave to PRS, but that’s how the groundwork is laid for the miniseries. It’s all in the current arc. So, #6 is out this week and #7 is kind of like a, “Whoa, what’s going on?” kind of moment. You’ll see how it lays the groundwork for this crazy picture.
Joshua Dysart: Inevitably, Bloodshot as a Harbinger hunter is going to do something in Duane’s series that is going to unlock an event that Peter and the Renegades and Harada cannot help but get involved in. The two books start on a collision course.
Josh, let’s talk about the Harbinger side of the mini. Considering the name of the book is in the title of the miniseries, what’s Peter Stanchek’s role in all of this? How will his ongoing feud with Harada tie in to what’s going on here?
Dysart: Well, the real engine of this is an event that we’re alluding to. What’s going to be the third independent book aside from “Bloodshot” and “Harbinger” is going to be a “Harbinger Wars” four-issue miniseries being published simultaneously that will really focus on that event. The conflict between Harada and the Renegades, while it’s definitely present, it’s almost going to take a back burner to this central event.
Swierczynski: I should add that while it’s called “Harbinger Wars,” I wanted to call it “Bloodshot Ballyhoo.” But nobody liked that one, so that’s why it’s called “Harbinger Wars.”
Swierczynski: You’ll see at the end of “Bloodshot” #6, he’s raiding PRS and he finds a very weird thing in the sub-sub-sub-facility below PRS and it’s called the Nursery. You’ll see it’s where they keep a lot of these Harbinger children. For what means, we’ll see. For what purpose, we’ll see. But that’s the incident that kicks things off and explores from there.
Dysart: Yeah, exactly. Once you know that the Valiant Universe are about to have these new Psiots emerge, this is very much a resource for Harada, as far as Harada’s concerned, to extract these kids, to somehow get these kids out of PRS. From Peter’s point of view, this is the first act of real super heroism — to save these kids from Harada, to save these kids from PRS. This is the first act of pro activism on the Renegades’ part to go after these kids. So everyone is making a play for the kids. Bloodshot’s making a play for the kids, Harada’s making a play for the kids and Peter’s making a play for the kids. As Duane has said throughout our development of this, there’s a new resources in the world and the battle for it has begun. That’s what “Harbinger Wars” is.
Swierczynski: Exactly. Actually, this is Bloodshot’s first time to be heroic if he chooses to do so. Up until now, he’s sort of self-obsessed and he gets to maybe be a hero in this. That’s interesting for all the characters across the board. There’s this moment of choice: are we heroes?
Dysart: Yeah, I really like this idea that all these characters that have been searching for themselves — Bloodshot in this really direct way where he’s looking for his name and Peter and the Renegades in this way that they’re looking for a mission — that suddenly, they find themselves with this purpose and these heroics and they need to protect these children. What happens with the children on the other hand, as the children emerge and we explore them, is something else entirely. While all the adults are trying to find their adult selves, the children are very much in it for themselves. I think that’s going to be very interesting.
Duane, on your side, we’ve got Bloodshot having just broken in to Project Rising Spirit with Pulse, who clearly has a connection to Harada. With Bloodshot still a little unstable from the opening arc, can readers expect him to butt heads with Pulse when planning on how to deal with the situation in Harbinger Wars?
Swierczynski: Absolutely. The seeds of this were planted in the very first page of the very first issue. We had a character down a drone ship, but the controller’s halfway around the world. We knew early on that these worlds would collide. They’re a big part of him figuring out who he is in relation to who these Harbingers are. I can’t say more without ruining things, but it’s a big scene Josh and I have been grappling with. It’s almost like the world’s in two camps and here’s how one side sees the other. That’s one of the sub themes of this crossover.
Dysart: Yeah, from the very, very get-go — maybe it was because we were released coupling together, I was the month before him and he was the month before me — but from the very beginning, we were co-developing our work with the other book in mind with Warren [Simons] sort of being the referee. This is just really a natural extension of all of this coming to a head. It doesn’t feel like a forced, marketed crossover. It feels very much like the next step in both stories, hopefully.
You’re co-writing this miniseries, and it’s Valiant’s first miniseries and first real crossover between two books. For each of you, how will what happens in “Harbinger Wars” affect your plans for your titles moving forward?
Dysart: Peter’s going to die. [Laughs]
Dysart: One thing that we don’t want to do is we don’t want to participate in the “illusion of change” that you see in other crossovers. The events that occur in the series and the kids that make it through to the other side, they’re definitely going to be part of that universe.
To answer your question, the honesty of it is that the books are going to converge, they’re going to collide, then bounce off each other and go on their way — but the events are always resonant in the titles and they’ll probably collide again in the future, I’m sure.
Swierczynski: I know for sure that Bloodshot will definitely change in a major way coming out of the crossover, and that was planned. The details weren’t planned down to the last beat, but that was always the intention, that this would define Bloodshot and I think Peter and the Renegades to a degree.
Dysart: Absolutely. In a more direct way, because now we’re getting into exactly how we’re going to end the crossover and that’s not something I want to share with readers, I’d like them to discover that. But there is going to be a lasting impact of a more concrete manner in the “Harbinger” book due to this crossover.
Can longtime Valiant readers expect some old familiar faces to show up during the course of the story?
Swierczynski: Yes. You’ll definitely see some familiar faces and some familiar abilities and all sorts of new stuff that Josh and I have come up with. That’s always fun.
Let’s talk about the interconnectivity between the two books — clearly, these books have had a connection since their launch. How will Harbinger Wars continue to expand upon that connection? Will readers finally get a chance to see how the Harbinger Foundation and Project Rising Spirit are connected?
Dysart: I will say this, and I hope this remains true all the way through, but it’s called “Harbinger Wars,” plural, for a reason. So there’s definitely an exploration of the past relationship and exactly what purpose and the relationship between these two institutions are, absolutely.
Swierczynski: It reaches back into history. There’s a shared history there that we’ll explore.
Is there a matchup during the mini that’s been particularly fun for the two of you to work on together?
Dysart: Personally, I think the fight between the Renegades and Bloodshot is going to be awesome.
Swierczynski: Definitely. I’m looking forward to that. I have a big, massive rock, paper, scissors match between Pete and Bloodshot. It’ll be the most epic rock, paper, scissors match ever. We’re actually going to use actual rocks and papers and scissors.
Swierczynski: I’m joking. Josh and I are looking forward to it, though. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
Touching on something you mentioned earlier, there have been a lot of events in mainstream comics in the last year. What separates “Harbinger Wars” from some of the other event series that have cropped up recently?
Swierczynski: From my point of view, it was on purpose for one thing. Since the very first plot discussions, we knew we were building somewhere for the larger Valiant Universe. For me, it’s more organic. It’s not “Six months are up, we’ve got to do an event. What have we got?” This is built into the DNA of the character. I think it’s the same for Josh. It’s built into your book as well. It’s where the stories were going. The plus is that you don’t have to read 87 books. You can read each series on its own. The miniseries is four issues, you can enjoy that, or even better all together, it tells a contained story that will hopefully be really satisfying.
Dysart: I think ultimately, we’re in a really unique place. Something that Duane just touched on — we’re not burdened by the heavy weight of decades and decades of history that have to be serviced the way the bigger company crossovers are. We’re also just doing two books. We’re not doing an entire company-wide crossover. It allows us to be more ambitious in more interesting ways because we don’t have too many elements to juggle. We can be really creative, we don’t have too many elements to wrestle with. We’re very much organically moving towards this. I think it could be really cool. I think we’re free. The thing that I’ve been saying about Valiant from the beginning is that because Valiant is small, it’s nimble and it moves on the dime. That’s our greatest strength and I think this miniseries is going to be our opportunity to show exactly what this trip down streamlined company that move fast and is super creative can do.
“Harbinger Wars” hits in 2013 from Valiant Entertainment