The game-changing conclusion to Joshua Dysart’s “Harbinger” series didn’t allow for Dysart to use his full team of Renegades in Valiant Entertainment’s “Armor Hunters” event, but that didn’t stop him from being able to come up with a worthwhile alternative. “Armor Hunters: Harbinger” #3 does feature Torque and Zephyr, but most of the featured cast is from Generation Zero, a fellow team of psiots that played a prominent role in “Harbinger.” Nonetheless, Dysart brings the same kind of excellent characterization to this newer group of youngsters, and in turn the same kind of dynamic between characters that made “Harbinger” so great, and applies it to this issue that wraps up this tie-in to “Armor Hunters.”
The characterization doesn’t get to stand out as much in this more event-driven story, though, as the Renegade and Gen Zero kids primarily react to a new sub-threat that has emerged after the invading hunters’ decimation of Mexico City. Torque and Zephyr’s appearance in the story mainly fulfills the requirement for putting the name “Harbinger” in big letters on the cover, but since they’re characters have been well established already, Dysart focuses on the rest of the cast, particularly Generation Zero leader Cronus.
Cronus remains cynical and hesitant to intervene in situations since he gained his freedom, and during the course of this mini-series, Dysart has explored the boy’s slowly changing attitude. The narrative from Cronus that leads off this issue summarizes his softening mindset, and it’s an effective ploy by Dysart that not only explains Cronus’ thoughts, but also helps summarizes the story’s state of affairs; the first three pages and the summary page tell readers everything they need to know, even if they haven’t read previous issues. The narrative gives way to action for the remainder of the issue, up until the epilog when Cronus comes to terms with his and his team’s place in a world where freedom doesn’t necessarily mean the freedom not to help.
Gill takes a traditional approach with the panel layouts, using larger panels only where necessary, and therefore to great effect when he does. His very first page starts off showing Earth in the distance but, panel by panel, slowly zooms in to the devastation in Mexico, and then the resulting alien insect swarm. His armor hunter bugs have an “Outer Limits” kind of creepiness; anyone who didn’t have an insect phobia before reading this issue just might by the time they’re finished.
In fact, Gill does more than just draw insects that come straight from everyone’s nightmares; he remembers that the characters in this issue are still kids, and he captures their likenesses with wide-eyed wonder that reminds readers of this fact; one that’s easy to forget because of their consistently selfless and very adult-like heroic actions. A particular expression on Faith is absolutely perfect, especially when readers turn the page to find out the reason for it. One particular page is a kind of cerebral, trippy moment that’s not quite in tune with the rest of Gill’s art, but is nonetheless an attractive work that serves as the story’s turning point towards victory.
Throughout the issue, Dysart also keeps the tension high not only on a creepy level, but also one that’s full of action, as the kids never get much of an opportunity to rest once these alien insectoids hatch. “Armor Hunters: Harbinger” #3 is an apt conclusion to the mini-series, and also plays a part in advancing the overall “Armor Hunters” storyline.