Telling a story where none of your characters are really the good guy OR the bad guy is a tough thing. That’s the story Matt Kindt has told over the course of the last few issues, and Harbinger Wars II #4 brings it full circle.
Kindt, Tomas Giorello, Renato Guedes, Diego Rodriguez and Dave Sharpe have put all their creative energy into the last few issues. It shows here. This issue looks and reads great. It also ends with keeping someone of the hardest questions unanswered, in a very realistic way.
Colonel Capshaw reports on the events of the last moments of the event. X-O and Livewire went toe to toe, and Aric reported back that it ended with Livewire besting him. The truth is they called a truce – end the fighting, restore power to the United States, and X-O will help Livewire cut the corrupt heart from GATE.
Meanwhile, Peter Stanchek is in the wind. Bloodshot is presumed dead. The Renegades don’t know what to do next. Lastly, Ninjak might be an enemy of the state, but he’s definitely an enemy of Palmer and his HARDCorps.
Kindt lays it out in this issue. Despite the cliche, it’s accurate to say there are no winners or losers here. Aric of Dacia proves to be Valiant’s most interesting hero once again, though. He recognizes the bad in what Livewire has done, as well as the evil in the organization he’s assisted. Knowing what’s to come in X-O Manowar, that’s going to be great moving forward.
Beyond that, Kindt does a lot of work for the universe as a whole. Valiant events typically don’t hit the entire line (and in this case Shadowman was excluded) but this is probably the biggest event the company has had so far. Clearly the ending is going to affect the universe for a long time to come, but it also makes sure each major character has been set up for the future.
The one thing that doesn’t work is the framing. Unfortunately a senior official reporting out about the events of a crossover is a cliche in superhero comics. Here, it doesn’t come off as anything new. It’s a minor quibble that pulled me out for a moment, but didn’t distract from the overall quality of the story.
Guedes only does a few pages here, a continuation of the fight between Ninjak and Palmer, and the Renegades’ epilogue. They look great. The confidence in Ninjak’s body language is a particular highlight.
This issue belongs to Giorello though. The battle between X-O and Livewire looks stunning. It’s a big and dramatic throwdown. He’s able to distill a lot about the characters in both the action and the moment of reconciliation at the end of the fight.
Rodriguez’s colors set a somewhat apocalyptic pall over the story. Colors are something that sets a tone for the story unconsciously. That’s the biggest thing Rodriguez does in this story. It’s so crucial and makes it feel so big.
This has been a great event, and made some great real world commentary along the way.
Harbinger Wars II #4 is available now from Valiant Comics.