Harbinger Wars #1
- Words: Joshua Dysart and Duane Swiercyznski
- Art: layton Henry, Clayton Crain, and Mico Suayan
- Colors: Brian Reber
- Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
- Price: $3.99
- Release Date: Apr 3, 2013
Posted by Jason Wilkins on Apr 8, 2013
Valiant’s first crossover pulls out all of the stops as Bloodshot takes the fight to Toyo Harada’s Harbinger Foundation.
First and foremost, the main goal of a comic book crossover event is to increase sales for the books involved. In recent years, the more cynical amongst the fanboy set have learned to cringe at the very mention of the word crossover, thanks in large part to DC and Marvel’s scattershot, irresponsible use of this marketing strategy to push everything from line-wide continuity reboots to simple changes in their universal status quo.
Always though, the goal is to make money – and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Comics have and always will be a business. If our favorite storytelling medium is the perfect marriage between words and pictures, then the relationship between comics as artistic medium and as profitable business is somewhat more awkward. Part of the problem is that we as fans and critics have such high expectations of our publishers. Let’s face it, we’re hard to please. We always want more of the same but different.
That can be a tall order to fill when a publisher’s main goal is to increase its profit margin. Crossover events help publishers like DC and Marvel (sometimes forcibly) increase interest in multiple titles by piggybacking fans across a family of books. Ideally, a higher profile for the books will also attract new first-time fans as well. However, I suspect the ability of a big event to actually attract brand new fans is relatively negligible, when most of their plots have been building for months, if not years, across numerous books.
What Valiant gets right with the first crossover of their relaunched brand is timing and quality. Harbinger Wars #1 is a gorgeous book to look at and what’s more, the plot is tight yet accessible. Catering to existing fans and potential new readers, Harbinger Wars #1 is a savvy, well-crafted first chapter to the titular “event,” introducing the audience to all of the major players and plot points, while never letting the pace get bogged down in overwrought expositional scenes.
Dysart and Swiercynski use a clever narrative device to help frame the story and drive the action forward and transition easily between past and present with little difficulty. Their dialogue crackles with relevant euphemisms and timely catchphrases, helping to build distinct characters amongst an extensive ensemble cast.
The trifecta of artists – Claytons Henry and Crain and Mico Suayan – also contribute vastly to Harbinger Wars' success. Usually, with this many artists attached to a project, the overall visual tone can become disjointed and jarring. The difference in styles actually helps the overall clarity and pace of the story, with each member of the team capitalizing on their distinctiveness to push the book to the next level.
Backed by a talented stable of creators and focused on attracting new fans to its burgeoning universe of titles, Valiant’s modern resurgence seems to be steaming along with much vigor and shows little sign of slowing down. Their sense of timing with Harbinger Wars is impeccable. Riding the surging wave of popular and critical acclaim, it’s now time – before they get too big and cumbersome – to define this corner of its universe and solidify the links between two of its most recognizable and established series.
This is the superhero crossover event done right – well-timed, well-crafted, and above all, modest and realistic in scope.
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