Valiant’s summer event starts here in earnest with this first issue by Matt Kindt and Tomas Giorello.
Battle lines are being drawn throughout this issue. All of Valiant’s major power players are coping with Livewire’s actions from last issue’s climax, with the entire United States gone dark. Meanwhile, Peter Stanchek is on the run, activating new psiots and sending them to his fellow Renegades. X-O Manowar and Ninjak are trying to figure out which side to take and Bloodshot sides with Livewire.
This issue sounds like a lot of set up, but Kindt writes it as a sharp political or spy thriller. Each of the characters have their motivations clearly laid out, and in some cases they struggle with where to ally themselves, and in others their minds are already made up. This issue continues to make the case for Livewire being Valiant’s most nuanced character. While what she did may have been wrong, her motivations for doing it clearly were not.
The closest comics comparison is Marvel’s Civil War events. However, Kindt makes a smart move here—no one is completely right and no one is completely wrong. There are right things done for the wrong reasons and vice versa on both sides. No one is painted as the bad guys (outside of Omen, who clearly are the bad guys).
Tomas Giorello’s line art is weighty and dark throughout, which makes for the oppressive feel of the events. The United States is literally dark, and there’s a sense of lingering dread, both of which are perfectly portrayed through Giorello’s art. The shadows are practically alive, and it’s great. Diego Rodriguez’s color art compliments that perfectly. His palette is realistic, but instead of adding grit, it sucks the lights out of the page. Color is still present, but it’s draped in shadow.
This issue sets up the conflict to come, but instead of leaving disappointed, as I often do with set up issues, I have nothing but anticipation for what’s to come. It’s an event for anyone suffering from event fatigue and you should check it out.
Harbinger Wars II #1 is published by Valiant Comics and is available now in stores and digitally!