Synopsis: After the events that exposed Toyo Harada, an incredibly powerful business man, as a ruthless omega level Psiot, the world has become a different place. Now, people around the globe realize they have the potential to unlock incredible abilities through a procedure, but it comes at a high cost. The activation of potential Psiots has a high mortality rate. These potentials are hunted by multiple groups, and innocent people are dying in the crossfire. It is now up to the Renegades to reform, but after their devastating losses against Harada, will they be able to be what they once were?
Review: Full disclosure: I absolutely LOVE Valiant’s Harbinger series. When I was first reintroduced to the Valiant universe, it was the book that instantly grabbed my attention. It was everything I’ve ever dreamed of as a geeky teenager in high school. Who didn’t want to learn that they had super powers, and that high school was just something in your rear view mirror from that point on? Besides the obvious wish-fulfillment, the series, similar to the rest of Valiant’s series, tried to take a real world approach to how alienating these powers could be. Harbinger: Renegade #1 does exactly that.
The Renegades are no more. Their leader, Peter Stanchek, has vanished, Kris has been released from prison, Torque has given up heroism for fame, Charlene is dead, and Faith is the only original member left attempting to solve the mess they have left. When the Renegades took down the Harbinger Foundation run by Harada, they unleashed an incredible amount of previously unknown information into the world. They believed this would liberate the future of Psiots, but it really threw the world into chaos. This is a great place for new and old readers to start because it is a brave new world. Writer Rafer Roberts has a firm hand on creating a world that seems completely transformed from what it once was. We see the Renegades trying to pick up the pieces of their own lives, and it seems authentic. Seeing Kris struggle to make some progress in her life after being released from prison really grounds the book that has copious amounts of larger than life action. Artist Juan Jose Ryp deftly moves between those poignant scenes and pure action.
The art for Harbinger Renegades is well suited. The panels where Toyo Harada sends in a strike-force to capture his rival are slick yet gritty. This too can be said when we see a young woman going through the activation process in an abandoned warehouse. An artist like Ryp who is able to shift gears so quickly and smoothly deserves to be applauded. Plus, his characters seem incredibly lifelike, and the variation on their designs is much appreciated. Too often characters all tend to blend together with little differentiation. Ryp really goes above and beyond to ensure that this is not the case with his work, and that is a detail that should be prized more often.
Harbinger Renegade is a grittier, no holds barred Gen X for a new era. It tackles the clash between youth culture and authority head on, and the series really shines because of it. Valiant once again has struck gold with another of their series, and I expect to stake my claim now. I suggest you do the same.