The voices of Harbinger #1

The new ongoing line from Valiant reimagines an intriguing history of powerful mentalists.

The prologue of Harbinger #1 is a bit creepy, but uses very few frames to convey a strong sense of the story’s depth and legacy.

It’s 1951. A lone young man walks up to a Tibetan temple. He opens the door with a gesture, and reveals an entire platoon of Chinese soldiers, seemingly waiting just for him, rifles pointed in his face.

He defeats the entire group with five words, and walks calmly through the carnage. Inside he finds a monk, bleeding from a massive chest wound, although it seems he’s been there for a long time.

They speak to one another telepathically for a moment before the story jumps ahead to today, where we meet Peter, a teenager in Pittsburg who has powers clearly related to the young man in the prologue.

Peter doesn’t seem to know who he is or why. He’s on the run from an unspecified governmental group with a friend who is schizophrenic, a condition he relates to, as his powers cause similar symptoms, and are muted by the same drugs.

What we get to see here is Peter’s final descent. He’s been circling the drain for some time, but now he falls in. For the first time, he uses his power for something truly sinister. With his final depth reached, and nowhere else to go, he is contacted – mentally – by another of his kind. The man implies that there are others like Peter – called Psiots – and now he must learn to come into his legacy. This first issue ends with Peter at gunpoint, surrounded by police; a scene which mirrors the opening sequence.

The writing here is excellent. The dialogue is good, sure, but most impressive is the world-building. The legacy of the character’s powers is compelling, and just enough is teased to make me want to learn a lot more. So while I haven’t quite connected with Peter yet – he’s sympathetic perhaps, but difficult to relate to so far – the world has caught me by the lapels. Of course, the trick will be getting the reader interested in the character by the time the world is sufficiently explained.

My hope is that we also get to continue to see Harbingers throughout history, like the brief prologue here. It seems that the creators have a deep history in mind for the Harbingers, and I want to see as much as they’ll show me.

The line is off to a very good start. It’s certainly a nice departure from over-the-top super hero stories and still manages to focus on supernatural abilities.

Of course the art could be a bit cleaner, and the characters definitely have developing to do, but that’s to be expected at the beginning of a new line with fresh characters. Yes, there was a Harbinger comic with some of the same characters and powers 20 years ago, but this one seems to be taking a much differnt direction.There is a lot of potential here and I can’t wait to see how they meet it.

Harbinger #1 is available now wherever you buy Valiant comics, including the ComiXloogy store.