Harbinger #12

In "Harbinger" #12, Joshua Dysart, Khari Evans and Trevor Hairsine reveal more of the Toyo Harada's past and take the Renegades to Vegas in the present day, bringing the team closer to the center of the "Harbinger Wars" crossover action.

Dysart opens "Harbinger" #12 with the young Toyo Harada in bed, holding hands with his lover as he uses his powers. It's an attention-grabbing hook, but less obviously, it also provides a contrast between the power, fantasy and beauty of Harada's private life vs. what transpires in the following scene, as he grapples with the limitations and frustrations of his research and business. Over the past few issues, the long detour into Harada's past has proven instructive but not particularly enthralling, simply because Harada is too much of a cold tyrant to be a sympathetic human being, even as a child war victim. This opening sequence is one of the more interesting glimpses of Harada's old life so far, however. The scene in the lab is horrific and bloody, revealing Harada's ruthlessness even in this more idealistic and visionary time.

Then, Dysart shifts from Harada's past to the Renegades' present with the perfect transition line, "I will not allow a world run amuck with activated psiots." Cue the Renegades' entrance as they coast in on the open road towards Vegas, following Sting's hunch about more free psiots like themselves. Dysart's dialogue is excellent in this scene, showing the team continuing to come together like a noisy squabbling family on a road trip, and the Star Wars line that Dysart drops is just the right touch.

Once the Renegades are in Vegas, Dysart does a good job of drawing the team into the larger events of the "Harbinger Wars" storyline in a way that seems natural. The introduction go-around scene was particularly funny in the contrast between Peter's embarrassment and Faith's whole-hearted enthusiasm about using superhero codenames.

The "cards on the table" scene that follows between the leaders, Sting of The Renegades and Cronos of Generation Zero, is one of the most effective "talking heads" scenes I've read. Cronos' moral calculus feels brutal and imperfect, but his motives and even his methods are understandable, even admirable, in that he's trying to preserve something precious in the face of desperate odds.

After this scene, though, Dysart's plot tension slackens as he shows the Renegades enjoying the casino and mixing in with kids from Generation Zero. The various reactions of the sheltered Generation Zero kids to Torque's music are hilarious, though.

Evans draws attractive, detailed backgrounds, especially for the casino scenes, but the artwork for the Harada scenes feel cluttered and messy. However, the action of the story is still clear throughout.

I wasn't eager for another scene from the Harada's past to wrap up "Harbinger" #12, but Dysart ends "Harbinger" #12 with a virtual declaration of war by Harada. Impressively, Dysart pulls off the feat of creating suspense when the reader already knows something of the outcome. The appeal of the cliffhanger panel is like that of Greek tragedy, in which a character's fate is fixed and the audience is mesmerized by the slow-motion fall that leads to moral or physical ruin. I look forward seeing this fall in further issues of Dysart's "Harbinger," as well more of the war zone friendships and rivalries between two groups of damaged, powerful young people.

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