Harbinger (Volumes 1 thru 5)
Writer: Joshua Dysart
Artists: Khari Evans, Barry Kitson, others
Harbinger is a team book but begins as a solo one. Peter Stanchek is a teenage runaway who developed telekinetic/telepathic abilities. This has garnered the attention of Toyo Harada, a billionaire philanthropist and founder of the Harbinger Foundation. Peter learns that there is an entirely new variation of humanity, Harbingers, who are evolving abilities beyond what normal humans can do. Things go south between Peter and Harada fairly quickly, and the former ends up on the run once again, this time gathering Harbingers in his travels to form a group counter to Harada’s.
Harbinger is one of the better books Valiant puts out, or at least one of my favorites. It scratches that X-Men itch of angsty teenage superheroes. There’s lots of conflict between the teammates that fuels the story. Then you have the over-arching global/corporate battle with Harada that adds scope to the series. There are moments where it suffers from some cliche, those sort of early 90s Image Comics moments with lame character names, powers, and personalities that are paper thin. Overall, the basic concept is intriguing enough to provide some enjoyable stories.
The fifth volume actual brings closure to series, and someone does die in a meaningful way, a rarity in comics these days. But in ending this first iteration of Harbinger, it opens the concept up to a variety of different directions, those of which I’ll look at in a later installment.
Bloodshot (Volumes 1 thru 5)
Writer: Duane Swierczynski, Christos Gage
Artists: Joshua Garcia, others
I don’t like Bloodshot. First, the name is the most generic moniker for a comic book super soldier. DC has Deathstroke, Marvel has Deadpool, Image had Deathblow, and Valiant has Bloodshot. Additionally, the character is a retread of a lot of cliches. Bloodshot is a genetically enhanced super soldier who was augmented by an evil clandestine group known as Project Rising Spirit. His main power is advanced healing due to the nanobots injected into his body. He has had his memories wiped and struggles to remember who he is. So he’s essentially Wolverine, a character who already makes these elements annoying. Placing them on a super generic character doesn’t make them more attractive.
Bloodshot has no personality and pretty much no character. There is no reason to like this character. His supporting cast is impressive at certain times. Early on a civilian woman ends up pulled into the story and she provides some of the only humanity. Later, during a crossover with Harbinger, there are some Harbinger kids that Project Rising Spirit was experimenting on that provide personality and interesting character bits. The supporting cast gets particularly dreadful and flat when the book briefly becomes Bloodshot and the HARD Corps.
Overall, I didn’t enjoy much of Bloodshot. I have heard that a significant change occurs in a few volumes that completely revamps what the book will be. I look forward to seeing if they can pull something interesting out of such a tired, retread of a character.
Next: Shadowman, Quantum & Woody, The Eternal Warrior, and Unity