Written By: Matt Kindt
Art By: Tomas Giorello with Renato Guedes
Colors By: Diego Rodriguez
Letters By: Dave Sharpe
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Rating: 12+ Only
The power players in the Valiant Universe begin to move like chess pieces in the opening game, as lines are drawn between adversary and ally – whether through persuasion, coercion or force – bolstering their own forces for the inevitable second “Harbinger War”. And as things move forward, one has to question who has the most to gain from the influx of scared, uncoordinated and vulnerable neophyte psiots and the aftermath from the chaos.
From the onset, Peter Stanchek remains a key factor and wild card in this slowly escalating psiot conflict, whose well-intended but reckless actions will have unintentional consequences, the likes of which no side can afford to let go unchecked. But reigning in a misguided omega-level psiot with formidable telepathic and telekinetic powers is not quite as easy, unless you bring the right tools.
Meanwhile Amanda Mckee (aka Livewire) busies herself with recruiting heavy-hitters to her cause, but neglects training and preparing her growing number of Renegades for the inescapable war to come, both mentally and physically, especially with the guaranteed body count to start ticking. This makes the Renegades unintentionally come off as a home-grown “radical” terrorist cell, which goes against the rational goal of preserving civil rights and protection for those “more fortunate”.
On the art front, Tomas is assisted this time around by Renato. Tomas’ art harkens back to Alex Ross’ famous photorealistic style, in awe-inspiring portraits and framing. However a lot of the facial details get lost in smaller panels, and more often come off as stilted or distilled in their expressive impact. This could be more Renato’s hand than Tomas as this otherwise negligible shortcoming is not consistent throughout.
There should not be that much to expect from the second issue, other than the intrinsic forward momentum, building up tension and expectations, so the fact that it’s mostly full of ideological banter and self-justification, with brief but well executed fan-service confrontations sprinkled within would be unsurprising. It’s only a matter of time before someone draws first blood and the hounds of war are released onto the battlefield in full force. But given that Harbinger War II is only a four-issue mini-series, it’s a shame that more time could not be spent exploring the morality of forcing a psiot population boom, or the kind of expected technological, social and global geo-political ramifications from the fallout of the prelude issue. Instead we may be barreling towards more formulaic super-heroic cacophonic conflagration, rather than an exploration of these philosophical issues, which I hope HWII can rise above by its conclusion.
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.