HARBINGER #23: Death comes quickly
Editor’s Notes: NO spoilers here, unless you are reading my writings about Harbinger for the very first time. If you have been following this book, then you are already aware of what is about to happen and you probably pre-ordered a copy through your favorite local comics store. If you’ve been reading my tribute reviews of the entire series as it draws to a close - - and haven’t been persuaded to check it out for yourself - - then get down to your comics store asap and pick up Harbinger Issue #22 and Issue #23 (just released today) before they sell out as I suspect they will. This is a series conclusion that everyone with any interest in a genuine dramatic event (no hoax) will want to read.
HARBINGER #23 (Valiant Entertainment, May 2014) Written by: Joshua Dysart. Art by: Clayton Henry and Khari Evans. Color Art by: Brian Reber. Letters by: Dave Sharpe. Covers by Mico Suayan, Khari Evans, and Zach Montoya.
Death is a subject that is often taken lightly in comics, particularly in stories of individuals blessed or cursed with super-powers. Death is often not permanent, only a pause or absence in the story of a popular character, done for dramatic effect and also with a marketing motivation to increase sales. When it was announced that Harbinger would end its successful run with Issue #25, and that the events leading up to that would include the death of a major character the usual suspicions crept in.
That apprehension was reduced somewhat when writer Joshua Dysart explained his purpose in an April interview with Comic Book Resources: “I”ve always tried to remind readers that these are kids and they’re in over their heads and they’ve never been very good at what they do. There’s just repercussions to this kind of behavior, even if you have superpowers. That’s what we’re moving toward, we’re moving toward that final statement – really saying that strongly for the reader = ‘This is what the story was always about.’ It was about inexperience in the face of great danger.”
Dysart is one of the most accurate portrayers of character in comics today. In spite of the fantastic situations, his characters seem more grounded in reality and react and make decisions as normal teenagers finding themselves in this position would. His characters are not perfect. The leader of the Renegades is mentally disturbed, although taking great measures to control himself and put his powers to greater use.
Knowing this, I fully expected him to handle the announced death in dramatic and realistic fashion. He does. It happens just as it does in real life, quickly and unexpectedly.
Valiant could have persuaded Dysart to milk the situation until the final issue, hoping to build interest and sales - - but they didn’t. Death doesn’t wait for the right time to occur. It is sudden and immediate, and doesn’t follow a schedule. The death occurs at a logical point in the story. This is beyond what we comics readers are used to. There are still two issues remaining!
There are three beautiful covers to help bookmark Harbinger #23. Just don’t expect the covers to reveal the shocker that occurs inside the pages. I n fact, there are no clues to be found anywhere in this story arc or prior. Truth to tell, every one of the Renegades is in over their heads, and any member is capable of making a fatal mistake or just becoming a mere victim of circumstance and consequences.
This death leaves little doubt that there will be any sort of recovery. That is highly unlikely. The actual image may leave a imprint on readers memories that replays every time they think about this book. It is that breath-taking, graphic and moving.
I have a feeling this is not over. I would not be surprised to see more characters find death before the end of this story.
Without telling too much, in Issue #23 the Renegades continue the offensive against Toyo Harada’s Pittsburgh headquarters. Each member of the team has a specific mission as they separate into several groups in their attempt to cripple the Harbinger Foundation. You won’t want to miss the awesome art by Henry and Evans. They really enhance the events and perfectly depict the natural facial expressions and reactions. This is pure dynamite.
Other things to note (again, no spoilers here): Peter makes a dramatic statement to Kris, that may be foreshadowing upcoming events ( I hope not). Harada pushes the envelope with his mental abilities and powers like never before. The death will prove a turning point for several characters, whose values and attitudes are certain to be impacted. They aren’t likely to remain the same after this. A weaker-powered member of the Renegades acts decisively and has a large impact on final results. Two less official members play important roles. Don’t miss the coda in the final pages of this issue!