Review - Harbinger Wars II #1 (@ValiantComics)

"And how will we fix it?"

Friendships between heroes are subject to the same ebbs and flows as friendships between just about anyone. Sometimes your views are in alignment, whereas other times they're a little out of sync. It's typically the times when they're out of sync like in Harbinger Wars II #1 from Valiant Comics that war happens. The issue is written by Matt Kindt, illustrated by Tomás Giorello, colored by Diego Rodriguez and lettered by Dave Sharpe.

Armed with new extra-governmental authority, the deep-black military contractor known as Omen has been authorized to identify, evaluate, and, if need be, eliminate all super-normal threats to the homeland. H.A.R.D. Corps units have been deployed into cities and towns across the United States to enforce their orders. In the East, one of the most powerful minds on Earth, Peter Stanchek, is leading his band of Renegades across the country, activating any potential psiots willing to join them, and building an insurrection force of ultra-powerful and unwieldy new abilities that will soon bring war to Omen’s doorstep and the unstoppable force known as X-O Manowar raging back to Earth. In the West, Livewire – the telekinetic technopath with the ability to bend machines and computers to her will – will be forced to choose between her former allies or her newfound team of Secret Weapons.

The stakes always seem to be high in the Valiant Universe and Kindt continues to push chips into the center of the table with Harbinger Wars II #1. The issue does a lot of hopping around, showing the reader all the main players and where they essentially stand, but the primary focus is on X-O Manowar and Livewire. That's not to say that Kindt doesn't recognize the importance of the rest of the characters, but the way the issue ends sets up the series for those two to essentially lead their respective sides in the coming war. What Kindt does that's interesting though is there are undercurrents of other motives at play for many of the characters; for instance, Ninjak seems to be playing both sides while Peter Stanchek is roaming somewhat freelance. The end of the issue is also pretty bombastic in that Kindt essentially lights the match that will set off the explosion of war.

Giorello's artwork is a very mature match for the script. Each of the characters are drawn with a photorealistic quality to them that lends some gravitas to the event as they're unfolding. This is especially true with the introduction of each of the characters involved as Giorello presents them in a way that somewhat comfortable for them; that is to say, Giorello knows how to show each character in a way that emphasizes their strengths. There are some pretty gorgeous full-page shots as well that focus on key characters without Giorello having to finish them with an immense amount of detail. The colors by Rodriguez are muted and pale yet still manage to convey to the reader's eyes what each character is supposed to look like.

Harbinger Wars II #1 is ambitious and bold with still more yet to come. X-O Manowar and Livewire know the stakes and where the other stands, but that doesn't mean that there won't be any love lost between the two of them when all is said and done. Kindt's command of the characters is firm and shows through well in his script. Giorello's illustrations are a great fit for the tone of the book and really show off the players well. Harbinger Wars II #1 is a great opening salvo to what will likely be a knockdown, dragout affair for just about everyone in the Valiant Universe.

Harbinger Wars II #1 is available May 30.