by Thegreatmagnet on November 09, 2017

Story: Rafer Roberts
Art: Juan Jose Ryp
Colors: Andrew Dalhouse
Publisher: Valiant Comics
For those of you following along at home, I’ve been a tad critical of Harbinger Renegade recently. Particularly since the beginning of the latest story arc, I’ve felt somewhat disoriented and puzzled about the way the story has been structured and the ultimate direction of the narrative. Thankfully, this issue feels pretty well executed, and it serves as a satisfying conclusion to the latest story arc. On top of that, it happens to feature art by one of Valiant’s most spectacular artists (which is no small feat).
Ultimately, this issue is all about the liberation of the Alpha at the unwitting hands of the H.A.R.D. Corps/OMEN. Alpha has already been teased as a major villain that will factor into the upcoming Harbinger Wars 2 event, and Alexander Solomon (the titular Renegade) has been machinating since the beginning of the series towards this objective, admittedly en route to other as-yet unexplained plans. You see, Solomon is a psiot with the ability to predict the future (supposedly) via mathematical equations and probability. If Solomon is as talented as he claims, it’s easy to speculate about exactly how far his influence extends in the overall course of events in the Valiant Universe. Certainly I hope that his power proves effective, in the interest of telling a compelling story. However, ultimately I believe he will find himself in a contest with the Bleeding Monk, another precog who incidentally makes an appearance in this issue. Unlike Solomon, the Bleeding Monk can actually see the definitive future, and he’s already proven very capable of shaping the course of  unfolding events (see the previous Harbinger series). It’s pretty clear that the Bleeding Monk had hidden Alpha in this location, as mentioned in the first scene and underlined by the fact that psiot monks are guarding his prison. One would assume that the Bleeding Monk will eventually intervene in the forthcoming events (if necessary).
Another interesting question is the extent of the connection between this issue and the most recent arc of the series. In the latest issue, two of the Renegades surreptitiously deliver information to H.A.R.D. Corps leader Major Palmer, which they believed could lead to Solomon. This issue references “recently acquired actionable intelligence” that was vital to the planning of the mission, so I’m hopeful they’re referring to the Renegades’ information. Taking into account Solomon’s penchant for predicting future outcomes, I’m tempted to argue that it was his intention for the Renegades to deliver that information. However, if this is the case, one must then consider the true objectives and priorities of Solomon in his massive (potentially overly-complicated?) plan. The first scene of the issue would suggest that all of Solomon’s actions in this series have truly been for the purpose of freeing Alpha (the “Stormbringer”), with the rebirth of the Renegades as a secondary goal or even a by-product. Are the Renegades merely pawns in the larger game, as well as being grist for the mill? Solomon certainly seems to have a strong desire to stay behind the scenes and keep his fingerprints off of events as they unfold. Ultimately, I hope that if Solomon has been pulling the strings this whole time, that he will eventually take credit for it, so we can get a better sense of the nature of his character and the extent of his abilities.
One thing that is clear is that the art in this issue is spectacular. Juan Jose Ryp is a powerhouse, and he’s one of the shining stars in Valiant’s stacked artist roster. He also has an existing connection to this series, having drawn the “prologues” in the first four issues and the entirety of issue 6. Not only is his work jaw-dropping, but it is perfectly suited to the horror and gore of this issue and the character of Alpha in particular. He also does a great job capturing the frenetic action of a firefight between assault rifles and psiots, which is a far cry from the historical battles that he’s become known for in Brittania (among others). Dalhouse’s colors also look fabulous, and they really sell the incendiary action of the skirmish. The art is unimpeachable and it elevates an already solid issue.
Overall, I’m very satisfied with this issue on its own merits, and I’m also satisfied with where this leaves the story at the end of the current arc. I’m getting a vague idea where the various storylines are headed and how this will tie into the lead-up towards Harbinger Wars 2, which is encouraging given my previous complaints about the arc. I just hope that the next arc features more Solomon and more Juan Jose Ryp, whose reappearances are both very welcome. Also, I hope that as the story continues to unfold, they're able to address some of the questions that have emerged over the last two issues, especially regarding the nature of Solomon's plans and his powers.

Our Score:


A Look Inside