The Harbinger #1 from Valiant Entertainment comes to comic stores on October 27. This soft reboot begins a new status quo for its main character, Peter Stanchek. In this new reader-friendly story, audiences experience a sense of liberation through Peter rediscovering himself. But just like Peter, new readers have no clue what has happened before this issue.
Peter Stanchek is one of the most powerful psiots (espers) in the Valiant Universe. He along with other young psiots, the Harbinger Renegades, stood against the likes of the Harbinger Foundation and nefarious government organizations. But in the crossover event Harbinger Wars 2, Peter and the rest of the Harbingers (save Faith Herbert a.k.a. Zephyr) apparently fell in battle.
The Harbinger #1: The All-Different Peter Stanchek
Reinvention is at the heart of The Harbinger #1. Colin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing literally open the issue with the phrase “be better”. For readers returning from older Stanchek adventures, this is an acknowledgment of the Harbingers’ problematic legacy. As the issue’s setting displays, the Renegades’ reactionary stances haven’t made improvements. Without a positive role model or a way to show the public that psiot’s aren’t all threats; the foundation’s scraps have been relegated to a Chicago district where they are oppressed. It gives Peter something to strive for.
New readers can empathize with the amnesiac Peter. Much like the Generation Y and Z audiences this series aims at, Peter comes into a world he didn’t ask for. But he’s still ecstatic at experiencing his powers for the first time in The Harbinger #1. The readers experience these sublime moments with Peter, ready to embrace the world even if it is bleak.
Robbi Rodriguez illustrates The Harbinger #1 with a larger-than-life atmosphere. Peter looks small and vulnerable in a few panels. The world around him is vast, bright, but also covered in shadows. The city of Chicago doesn’t feel too welcoming towards Peter as he stands on a building. But the way Peter’s telekinesis is able to bend buildings to his whim shows how much he can change this gloomy city.
Rico Renzi’s coloring adds to the atmosphere through the moods they convey. Alongside the brightly lit Chicago is the district of Psiot City that’s shrouded in black. In this dark canvas, the psychic powers of the psiots give this obscure area personality. To that effect, it reflects the psychedelic images Peter sees in his mind when he uses his powers. There’s potential for the psiots to be something more, but Peter and the rest of the psiots have a long way to go before they can integrate back into society.
Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou uses his lettering as a powerful way of characters’ expressing their voices. Just about every powerful character has an outline around their caption or word balloon that make them sound louder. Then there are Peter’s internal thoughts that are highlighted by light blue captions that showcase his easygoing personality. But alongside this are echoes Peter hears in the form of thought balloons that aren’t connected to their outlines; it says a lot about Peter’s internal struggle to reinvent himself. That’s what the aggressive red captions Peter converses with suggest anyway.
The Coming of The Harbinger #1
The Harbinger #1 marks the reintroduction of a character ready to start a new chapter of his life. In a world that is ready to fear him, Peter Stanchek is in the process of rediscovering himself in the sublime psychedelic sensibility this series offers. Best of all, new readers don’t need to read previous Harbinger series to enjoy it.