Writer: Eric Heisserer
Pencils: Raul Allen & Patricia Martin
Inks / Colors: Borja Pindado
Letters: Patricia Martin
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Rating: 12+ Only
Speaking as a person who is not aptly versed in the nuances of the Valiant line of comics, Harbinger Wars 2 #1: Prelude does a lot of things right. Straight off the bat, it’s all show and not tell. There is no intrusive exposition or long-winded backstory, with only breadcrumbs dropped here and there through naturally flowing conversations. It treats the reader with a level of competence few other comics are willing to afford them. Secondly, while this premise has been done ad nauseam in other books, there is a very down-to-earth aspect with its contemporary diverse cast of characters, with unconventional powers, who act and feel like ordinary people.
The impetus revolves around growing tensions with “Harbingers” (aka “psiots”) – Valiant’s version of psychic mutants who live among us norms – and defenseless society at large, which has led to some “unpleasant” response(s) from the US government, particularly Homeland Security. The issue is equally split between seasoned harbinger Amanda McKee (Livewire), and a quartet of “useless” rejected psiots she has decided to protect and take under her wing. These four neophytes are Nicole Finch, Avichal Malakar, Owen Cho and Lucia Alonzo, who each made their debut in Secret Weapons (2017).
The Amanda segment fittingly portray a woman who is tired of being a stooge to the powers that be, but still has faith in decency and diplomacy. Her frustration reaches a melting point that has wide-reaching ramifications that solidify her and other Harbingers stance in this upcoming war. As for the other half, everyone shares a quirky, all-round likable dynamic that is very practical and charming. Their lack of experience and inclination to be “superheroes” or weapons makes them highly vulnerable, despite the magnitude of their powers.
In terms of the artwork, the execution is Hollywood-quality in the level of detail and framing. There is a very formulaic paneling throughout, but it’s an appropriate choice that is easy to follow and not congested. There is also a subtle hue to most panels. The amount of detail on each character makes everyone stand out as a person. You get a real feel for the age and experience (or lack thereof) from people’s faces, which are so articulate and expressive that it accentuates the dialog and emotions throughout.
“Prelude” accomplishes what it sets out to do, to see the pieces fall into place that will inevitably trigger the next big crossover conflagration with the Valiant Universe, as our protagonists transition, rather briskly, from the defensive. Those new to Valiant need not do a lot of catching up to get invested in this new event. Backed by great-looking art, characters are rich and multifaceted, feeling like a more grounded tale of people with extraordinary abilities, devoid of stereotypes and tropes.
Hailing from the eastern-most Caribbean island of Barbados, Fabian Wood has long since been fascinated by the power of storytelling to inspire and invoke emotions – whether in film, comics or videogames. No longer content to be just an avid comic book reader and videogamer, he’s eager to exercise his literary acumen as an aspiring writer and reviewer.