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HARBINGER RENEGADE #8

by Thegreatmagnet on October 11, 2017

Story: Rafer Roberts
Pencils: Darick Robertson
Inker: Tom Palmer
Colors: Diego Rodriguez
Publisher: Valiant Comics
 
I had a lot of hope for Harbinger Renegade when the series debuted last Fall. I was pretty satisfied with the first arc of the series and with the direction that the story appeared to be headed. Unfortunately, I feel that the narrative was largely interrupted at the start of the current arc, when they turned focus away from the Renegades and the Renegade, in order to introduce story points for the upcoming Harbinger Wars 2 storyline. When we resumed our regularly-scheduled programming in issue 7, much of the momentum was erased and the Renegades seemed like confused guests in their own series. This issue seems like a step in the right direction and it offers a glimmer of hope that the story might be getting back on track.
 
The most important development in this issue is unquestionably the return of Alexander Solomon, the primary antagonist of the series. Solomon is the Renegade referenced in the series title (slightly confusing given the heroes are also called the Renegades), and he seems to really be the driving motivator for the entire series. Solomon’s power is essentially a form of precognition via calculations and probabilities, and it’s a fascinating and potentially contentious question whether he has foreseen every single event in this book, and possibly participated in their design. Solomon was effectively absent from issues 5-7 of this series, and his absence was sorely missed, as it might have suggested an underlying logic to the seemingly random narrative. In this issue, Solomon gives the Renegades another nudge towards recruiting and training potential psiots, which was his reason for bringing the team back together in the first place. However, Solomon’s deeper motivations are still incredibly vague, and we still don’t understand the nature of his plans in the unfolding multi-faction conflict of Harbinger Wars 2. The Renegades assume that he is an enemy, due in no small part to attacks they suffered from his organization, and other events (like his search for the Stormbringer) further suggest that he is not a “good guy”. I can accept that we’re only eight issues into the story, but effective stories need a good villain, and one of the most important parts is that they need to be understood. I hope that they rededicate their focus to Solomon in the coming issues, since they went to the trouble of naming the series after him.
 
This issue also started with a character showcase for Kris, who visited her parents for the first time after her disappearance, and the destruction of their house. This seemed like an odd choice, especially given its similarity to Animalia’s scene in the previous issue, and also given she didn’t seem to talk about her parents much in previous issues of the series. What I took away from this scene is that arguably all of Kris’ brilliant plans have had major negative consequences for innocent people and for the ones she loves. She ruined her parents’ lives, and she inadvertently caused the deaths of numerous innocent kids in the fallout of the Harbinger Foundation leak. She sees the objective, but not the unintended consequences. How can she expect to compete with Solomon, who is always ten steps ahead of her? In this issue, her brilliant plan is just to buy time by selling him out to OMEN, but why shouldn’t we expect that this is what Solomon wanted?
 
Thankfully, it sounds like the Renegades plan to use the time they’ve bought for training. Once again, I feel that this was a story element that has been sorely missing in this arc. The previous arc ended with Peter activating the powers of their newest member, Jay, but they still have not hinted at the nature of his powers. The same could be assumed for Carolyn (admittedly we never even witnessed her actual introduction to the Renegades). I think that their failure to deliver on the powers of their new members is the most glaring example of plot threads that were blatantly dropped in this arc. Even granted that these characters may be preoccupied by recent events in the Valiant universe, it seems hard to believe that they weren’t even curious about their powers. I think that battle training under Animalia could be an interesting character exercise for everyone, and it could also help build narrative momentum in the lead-up to Harbinger Wars 2, assuming they actually give it substantial space in the coming issues.
 
Unfortunately, the line art continues to be inconsistent in the latest issue. Some of the panels are finely rendered and very attractive, while others are very sketchy or distorted. There’s a looseness to the art that is a turnoff, especially given the consistency of Valiant’s artist stable. That being said, Diego Rodriguez’ colors are beautiful and dramatic as always. He has been an excellent addition to Valiant’s roster of colorists.
 
Overall this issue was OK. I wasn’t moved by any of the actual dialog, and I found the art to bit hit-or-miss. On the plus side, there seemed to be observable instances of moving the overall plot forward (unlike the previous issue), and it featured the characters who should be the focus of the book. I hope that when the series resumes, they choose to rededicate themselves to telling a coherent story and make room for the essential characters. There are a lot of people out there that want this series to succeed.
 

Our Score:

6/10

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