Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Harbinger #2

Harbinger #2
"Omega Rising: Part Two"
Writer: Joshua Dysart
Artist: Khari Evans with Lewis LaRosa
Colours: Ian Hannin with Moose Baumann
July 11, 2012,

Okay. As with my review of Bloodshot #1, to even speak about what was good about this issue of Harbinger is going to require some Spoilers. You have been warned.

Like the beginning of Harbinger #1, this issue opens with another memory of Toyo Harada's. This time, Harada is older, and is in Dharavi, Mumbai, India to investigate the birth of young harbinger; one with the power to make you relive your worst memories, more powerfully than when you first experienced them.

After a powerful scene involving a memory that gives us some important context to understanding Harada as a character, the plot picks up where Issue #1 left off with Pete, Kris, and Joe surrounded by armed soldiers from a mysterious organization being led (or coordinated) by the Mr. Tull, whose memories have been erased countless times by Pete.

Harada, speaking to Pete through his mind and using his powers to convince everyone that he is a dog, refuses to help Pete unless he unleashes his powers on the soldiers. Pete relents, and we see just how out of control of his own abilities Pete is as he is unable to calm down after injuring, and possibly killing, dozens of soldiers with his mind alone. Fans of Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira will find a lot to like about this issue of Harbinger.

Khari Evans' art has really improved with this issue, and he completely nails the realistic, modern day look and feel that this title aspires to. Unlike the debut issue, there are no panels with unclear or obscure depictions of what is happening. Everything in this comic made sense, from the character reactions and motivations to what was being depicted in the panels. The flashback scene involving Harada was especially well done. Likewise, Ian Hannin and Moose Bauman deserve their credits for the really great lighting and colour effects in this book.

I had just one issue with the production of this book: the lettering of the sound effects. I know. I know. This is the most nitpicky thing to criticize, but compared to the rest of the lettering in the book, the bright green, yellow, and red lettering of the sound effects just looks amateurish and cartoony, and detracts from the otherwise realistic style of the book.

This issue clarified a number of questions raised in the first. For example, not only do we learn what organization Mr. Tull and his soldiers represent, and what their motives are, Spoilers we learn enough about what happened between Kris and Pete in the first issue to reasonably suggest that if Pete did not actually use his powers to rape Kris, she was definitely sexually assaulted by him. Personally, I think her cries of "What did you do to me?...I'll kill you!...I'm going to cut your balls off you son-of-a-bitch!" pretty much says it all. End Spoilers. 

As a fan of the original Harbinger comics from the early 90s, I love the direction that Joshua Dysart and co. are taking this series, and cannot wait to see what happens when Pete is transported to the Harbinger Foundation in the next issue. 

Harbinger #2 is a very good follow up to a great debut. If you like superhero comics that deal with mature themes and are grounded in unflinching realism, I cannot recommend this title enough. Fans of Marvel's Ultimate Universe looking for something outside the House of Ideas, this is your book.

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