HARBINGER #0 by Rafer Roberts and Juan José Ryp
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
HARBINGER RENEGADE #0 is a successful prelude to HARBINGER WARS 2 and an incredibly exciting issue on its own. The mid-issue twist will shock even the most seasoned readers.
95 %
A Prelude Worth Reading

HARBINGER WARS 2 is coming! Valiant is setting up 2018’s biggest comic crossover event with this prelude issue, HARBINGER RENEGADE #0. The all-star team consisting of writer Rafer Roberts and artist Juan José Ryp puts together an action-packed and visually mesmerizing preview of what’s to come. HARBINGER RENEGADE #0 sets up future stories while also introducing new epiphanies for the Valiant Universe. Despite some stumbling at the beginning of the issue, Roberts and Ryp finish strong with a phenomenal ending that is definitely worth the wait.

HARBINGER RENEGADE #0
Image courtesy of Valiant Comics.

The Stormbringer

In August 2017, Valiant concluded the “Massacre” story arc in HARBINGER RENEGADE #6 with a seemingly unrelated issue about the grotesque medieval psiot-demon king, Alpha. While this issue was great, Valiant did not expound upon how this character would affect Harbinger War 2 — only that he would be a major player. You guessed it — Alpha (now known as Stormbringer) is back thousands of years later and he’s ready to shake up the entire Valiant Universe.

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The majority of this issue and the issues before it are all lead-up to our big-bad’s reveal. Ryp does a phenomenal job of building the tension up to the unveiling. Less is definitely more in this issue. Ryp keeps the audience in the dark for most of HARBINGER RENEGADE #0. We begin with the mercenary H.A.R.D. Corps hunting down Alexander Solomon (a psychic psiot) in a secluded island compound. Ryp sets this mission up as a paint-by-numbers violent H.A.R.D. Corps raid and then turns our assumptions on their head.

A Big Surprise!

The conventional, action-movie style of the issue’s first half is fine. The action is interesting but the idea of Alexander Solomon evading H.A.R.D. Corps is slightly mundane. However, once H.A.R.D. Corps finds out that Solomon’s compound is not what it seems, this comic ramps up. HARBINGER RENEGADE #0 features the mercenaries going up against a violent, remorseless army of super-powered zombie monks and their Skeletor looking leader — the vicious Stormbringer. Despite a half-issue of the H.A.R.D. Corps prepping for a scrap with impeccable strategy, Roberts and Ryp pull the rug out right from under them in the second half.

HARBINGER RENEGADE #0
Image courtesy of Valiant Comics.

H.A.RD. Corp’s shock in finding these disgusting creatures mirrors that of the reader. The whole tone of the comic changes and the mercenaries are put on the defensive. The split-second switch from a raid to a chase-scene is a welcome jolt of energy to the issue. Ryp changes the H.A.R.D. Corps demeanor from a cocky, ruthless team of mercenaries to a scared, scrappy team of amateurs. The formidability and otherworldliness of Stormbringer’s army is perfectly juxtaposed with the G.I. Joe-esque H.A.R.D. Corps.

Stormbringer is the type of classic evil cackling villain that classic comic fans will love. He is as violent and quippy as could be. His overflow of personality more than compensates for the lack of personality or differentiation among the bland and homogenous H.A.R.D. Corps mercenaries.

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Introducing a Major Threat

Juan Jose Ryp is one of my favorite artists in the comics industry. I have formerly gushed about his unparalleled talent for rendering supernatural gore and savagery in his work on BRITANNIA. He goes even further in HARBINGER RENEGADE #0. Overall, the design of the creepy monks and Stormbringer are the highlight of the issue. Ryp renders an 80’s cheesy devilish villain design with a huge level of detail. The villains are corpse-like and disgusting. The decomposing flesh and sinewy limbs jump right off the page.

HARBINGER RENEGADE #0
Image courtesy of Valiant Comics.

Besides just making your skin crawl, these enemies pose a substantial threat to the Valiant Universe. HARBINGER RENEGADE #0 functions excellently as a prelude issue because it sets up a formidable villain. Overall, this issue makes the reader eager to see how these vicious creatures will fare against our favorite Valiant heroes. Roberts lets one of Valiant’s fiercest fighting forces (H.A.R.D. Corps) fail against this ghoulish force to illustrate just how screwed our Valiant heroes will be in HARBINGER WARS 2.

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Final Thoughts on HARBINGER RENEGADE #0

Overall, HARBINGER RENEGADE #0 is a great prelude issue that builds to a satisfying finish. After reading it, I am even more excited about HARBINGER WARS 2. Hopefully, the new event will be able to ride the powerful wave of momentum introduced in this issue. The more Stormbringer, the better! HARBINGER WARS 2 is coming in 2018, and we can only hope that our new favorite villain will be on the front lines. Valiant has promised that its greatest heroes will be facing off, and I can’t wait to see where Stormbringer fits into the fray.

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