November 20, 2012


Harbinger #6 Review: The Sturm and Drang of Kris Hathaway

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Why is it considered heroic when a person with great power decides what’s right for the rest of us? I think it’s time for the people with nothing to start deciding what’s right.

At Long Beach Comic Con, the Valiant folks had a lot to say about this upcoming issue of Harbinger. Atom! Freeman, Valiant’s sales manager, said it was the perfect book, that it accomplished exactly what it needed to. Josh Dysart, the author of the book, said that this will be the issue where they finally confront that Pete Stanchek mentally forced himself on to Kris Hathaway in the very first issue of Harbinger.

harbinger 6 cover

Harbinger #6 Cover

As a result, I was really looking forward to this issue. Quite a bit.

This is a spoiler free review. There may be some hints, or general discussion of the tone and style of the book, and some info on the plot points that lead up to this books, but plot details will be avoided.

In a lot of ways, this is an easy book to write a spoiler free review of, since it is almost completely a character book. There isn’t a lot of action, not a lot of story development in this book. Instead we get character development.

This book is 22 long pages focusing on Kris, what her life is like in the wake of her run in with Pete, her encounter with Pete when he returns to find her, and what she is capable of accomplishing when she sets her mind at work.

If it wasn’t clear before in this review, I’ll say it now. I love this book. Harbinger, overall, has been blowing me away, and this issue is stunningly good.

The art is great, Phil Briones departs from Khari Evans style, while still maintaining a visual similarity amongst the characters, and Ian Hannin’s colors continue to be spot on.

The heart of this issue is the writing, since this book is almost all character development.

I’ve been fortunate enough to spend a little time with Josh Dysart by meeting him at conventions and interviews. I think that anyone who spends time with him will see that he has a deep understanding of people, how they are motivated, and what it is like to be human. Josh just gets people. That deep understanding of people pours out into the pages of Harbinger.

That deep understanding is also why this series, and this issue in particular, is so great. In this issue, Kris is angry. Very angry. She’s angry at Pete for what he did, and she’s angry at the world for its cruelties. Josh’s deep understanding of people shows up in how this issue shows Kris dealing with her anger, and her inevitable confrontation with Pete.

This issue is much more subtle, and much more nuanced than I expected. I expected a big angry confrontation between Kris and Pete. Instead, the confrontation, while angry, isn’t the bombastic outburst that one might expect in a comic.

It felt much more real, and like in real life, it doesn’t wrap up Kris’s emotions with a tidy little bow. It does, however, fuel her for what comes next, and the actions she takes to put the rest of the story in motion.

This books shows that Kris is strong in her own right, perhaps the strongest of all the Harbinger kids.

This is some darn good comic book making.

One Comment

  • Dallow comments:

    I really enjoyed this issue too. As Sean says, less focus on action more on character development, which I think any good book needs in order to not be one dimensional. This balance between action and characterisation is the main reason I enjoy Harbinger and X-O the most out of all the Valiant books, if there’s a better comic out there at the moment than these two then call it out!

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