Harbinger #23 | Valiant Entertainment | Joshua Dysart with Clayton Henry and Khari Evans
This issue, Peter and the Renegades continue their tactical rope-a-dope against evil esper billionaire Toyo Harada. It’s one of those crazy A-Team things where there’s not only a diversion but a diversion for that diversion, offering our heroes a chance to stay a couple of steps ahead in the larger plan to expose Harada’s information network and reveal to the world that the successful and brilliant businessman has been up to some next-level supervillainy including murder and false imprisonment.
I’m fascinated by the psychology of Harada: Dysart doesn’t leave a lot of daylight for any nagging holes in the Renegades’ plot to intrude (as much of it as I understood), but you have to wonder what mix of narcissism and overconfidence put our villain in a position to let a bunch of kids get the better of him. I have wished this issue would have been from his POV (we get precious few flashes of his insight, but I’d really like to know the mental contortions he goes through when it comes to murdering kids).
Dysart keeps these parts zipping along, focusing more on how the mission is impacting each of the Renegades – much to the story’s benefit. The techn-speak occasionally threatens to overwhelm the script (hackers have, by this point in our pop culture, become a networked deus ex machina), but thankfully Dysart pulls back, focusing on the human elements because in case you’ve forgotten, this story is called “Death of a Renegade.”
The on-panel, very graphic death of one our Renegades happens fairly early on and actually drives the rest of the team through the rest of the mission. If the others get out of this alive, you have to wonder if they’ll ever be able to trust their leader who – by necessity – kept some details close to the vest. That character gets a short, fairly throway backup story set some months before this issue. It feels so inessential because it doesn’t say anything new about them (or their state of mind) that wasn’t made abundantly clear across this and last issue.
More importantly, I want to know what’s going to happen with Harada. There’s no going back from what happens this issue and even if he and Peter both survive the matchup being teased for next month, we’ve got a billionaire with all of his secrets laid bare to the world.