Review of Harbinger, Vol. 1: Omega Rising
Valiant’s immensely fantastic Harbinger series continues with Volume Two, a 5 issue arc titled ‘Renegades’. And although it doesn’t live entirely up to the standard of the first volume, it feels like a well put together second act. Renegades collects issues 6-10 of the 25 issue run.
Previously we learn that Peter Stanchek is capable of unlocking ‘latents’ minds so that they can use their unique psionic powers. He does so for Faith, who gains the ability to fly after becoming a psiot. Peter also does the frankly unforgiveable to a young woman named Kris, b tricking her into falling in love with her (without consent). All the while, Peter is inducted into a secret Harbinger organization that is owned by the powerful Toyo Harada, and is used to hone the powers of the worlds many psiots. Until Peter is duped by Harada and realizes this isn’t quite the organization he thought it was, and he (with the help of Faith) are on the run.
One of the biggest immediate qualms I had with the second volume, if I’m to get it out of the way now, were the motives of Kris Hathaway, whom we see vehemently wanting nothing to do with Peter Stanchek after he wronged her in Volume One. Well, she appears to have had a change of heart, and is helping his renegade team super…rebels? We don’t really know what Peter is doing currently, or what his purpose is. So Kris’ helping him (with a little help from Faith) just doesn’t seem to fit with the character previously introduced.
But I guess it can be said that Peter’s immediate objective with this arc was to stay on the run from Harada and find latents who’s minds haven’t yet been unlocked by the Harbinger Foundation. Little of the plot’s endgame is mentioned, so that too seems unimportant or far-off at the moment. But when it comes to gathering recruits to his cause, Peter surely makes a habit of it. At least a little habit.
The first inductee of his renegade squad, aside from Faith (who likes to call herself Zephyr) and Kris, turns out to be a young woman named Charlene Dupre, or perhaps better known by her stripper name ‘Flamingo.’ She’s developed over the course of an issue, and you really come to feel bad for her character as you discover the hard life she’s led through reckless decisions made as a teenager. She’s an abused character, with little self-worth – until Peter comes along and unlocks her psionic abilities, pushing her to become who she was always meant to be. And she has the power to generate and control flames, which is pretty epic, as well as dangerous.
We are also introduced to John Torkelson, who’s identity I’m still a bit confused about. We first find that he has a brother who is a mechanic, but also cross dresses under times of duress. And he, John Torkelson, is bed-ridden and constantly stuck in his imaginary world of Torquehalla, where he’s constantly saving babes and riding dinosaurs in a Metalocalypse-type setting. Peter unlocks his abilities, which allows him to project his imaginative self into reality, giving him the appearance of his older, buffer, brother, along with incredible strength. I was a bit confused by how he was portrayed like his brother, and if there was supposed to be any clear destinction between the two characters. But we haven’t really seen him do anything particularly useful for the team yet. In fact, much of the team doesn’t yet feel like one, except for Faith and Peter Stanchek.
But the story holds its own quite well, pushing the boundaries of this world, and exciting the mind for what’s still to come. I look forward to picking apart volume 3, as the series continues to feel highly promising, and the art is continually superb.
Grab this in Paperback.