And so Valiant enters crossover mini-event territory, with Harbinger Wars and Bloodshot crossing into a storyline called Harbinger Wars. After a year of building up the Valiant Universe, this offers us a first look at how everybody relates to each other. Co-written between Harbinger’s Joshua Dysart and Bloodshot’s Duane Swierczynski, issue #1 of this event doesn’t ramp up the tension or offer readers an epic, exciting, spectacular. Instead, it feels like… just another issue of Harbinger.
The scene is set incoherently, with the story frequently relying on readers already firmly aware of the details of every previous issue of Harbinger. Dysart splits the book into several different sections, all drawn by different artists – Clayton Crain draws a flashback sequence, Mico Suayen handles a dream sequence, whilst Clayton Henry is in charge for most of the book. The result makes for an effective whole, visually, with the juxtaposition of artists causing the book to feel like it has a wider consequence for things as a whole. So there are different artistic styles, so it feels like each different piece of the storyline is important in and of itself.
But the actual narrative itself feels rather weak indeed, with Bloodshot barely used and the main Harbinger plot points feeling tired and unexciting. There’s no surprise or shock in the issue, with the characters walking through motions seen countless times before. Events centre around a facility which is filled with young ‘Harbingers’, who each have unique power. The Harbingers want to escape the facility, and Bloodshot walks in and helps them do so. That’s essentially the entire plot of the issue, although Dysart does everything possible to try and add to it, and create suspense and mystery – the problem is that nothing here works.
The story is so simple and uneventful that no amount of time-jumping, fantasy sequences or mystic dreams can help it along. There’s no clash between Bloodshot and the main Harbinger team, who don’t actually meet in the issue and are working for the same cause anyway. The villains don’t appear to have any kind of major plan in motion to take over the world or destroy the moon – the escape doesn’t feel like it even matters to them. A group of their Harbingers have escaped, but they don’t seem particularly bothered by it. Again, the main plot feels inconsequential and unimportant, which makes the issue as a whole feel similar.
There’s nothing wrong with the writing, art, dialogue, colouring, lettering – everything in Harbinger Wars #1 is fine. But the narrative – at least at this stage – is surprisingly weak. Harbinger has looked to be building up to this for a while – it’s a shame we don’t get to see anything explode. Instead of things getting kicked into high gear, the gearbox has fallen out the bottom of the car and Valiant don’t know how to get it back.