This rating system I’m using focuses on the five main factors I think make entertainment entertaining: Characters, Novelty (Innovation), the Fun Factor), Writing/Plot, and Production/Art (for shows and movies, this will be Production/Acting). Each of these factors gets its own star.
This post contains spoilers, FYI.
Harbinger (written by Joshua Dysart), like Omega Men, is a modern comic book series based on an older one. I haven’t read the original issues, so I don’t have any background or nostalgic aspect for me. Even so, I thought it was one of the better modern comics.
One of the things that I liked about it was that it was atypical of most modern comics. It had a fast moving plot, especially in comparison to other newer comics. I found it fun to read and even a little hard to put down. The art (by Khari Evans) wasn’t really my cup of tea, but I could respect it as being good quality. I definitely found the book to be good, but not great.
The main problem is a main problem a lot of media struggles with: characters. Without characters to root for, the reader can’t appreciate the suspense, or even the plot itself. A good plot is essential to a story, but goes unappreciated without likable characters.
Especially for this story, the main character is the most important because of how much screen time. Peter was one of the least likable characters (tied with Ingrid, Ion and Edward). He’s bratty, sarcastic and accurately called a punk on multiple occasions. You just don’t like him and can’t root for him. He even uses his ability to convince his old crush (a girl named Kris) that she loves him back, after moving back to his old house just to see her and after stalking her for a little bit. This is after she makes it obvious that she doesn’t like him and is even afraid of him. How are you supposed to like a guy who is so shortsighted, selfish, and stupid? He’d have to keep up her blind love with his mind control for the rest of their lives, otherwise she’d hate him. Which she eventually does.
Kris is, at this point in the series, merely a love interest. Realistically, she will never love Peter because of what he did to her. So she now has no role in this comic book. She disappeared after the second issue, but Harada and his henchmen (Livewire, Ingrid, Edward, and Ion) alluded to her. Her current status is damsel in distress.
Harada appears to be as powerful as Peter, who, typical of a main character, is one of the strongest characters in the Harbinger universe. It is necessary for the book to have an equal to Peter in Harada, but you liked Harada about as much as you liked Peter. He was also arrogant, kind of overestimating both himself and Peter. He appeared wise, at first.
Then Harada had Joe killed. This was an idiotic move. It was shortsighted, because he thought Peter would come crawling back to them. But from what we’ve seen of Peter’s personality, he wouldn’t do that. He’d be broken and depressed, angry that Harada hadn’t lived up to his promise to keep Joe safe. Even if he didn’t have the little amount of brains it took to figure out that Harada Global Conglomerates was directly behind Joe’s death, he would have inadvertently blamed it on them. That’s simply how the human brain works. It was out of character for Harada to overlook so many glaring details.
Livewire had the potential to be the coolest character in the series. She had an awesome ability: complete control over electronics. But she didn’t seem to exercise her power very often, spent the series under Harada’s thumb and had no personality. She had a moment when she went against Edward and Harada, but this was short-lived. She ended the scene on her knees, begging Harada for forgiveness. Maybe they’ll do more with her character in the next edition.
Ingrid was obnoxious from the get go, even before you learn that she’s also connected to Joe’s murder and has been feeding Peter lies along with everyone else. She has a sort of fake friendly motherliness to her that would make you clam up rather than tell her you’re problems. She always had a stiff, Botox smile plastered on her face.
Peter’s friend, Joe, was one of the two characters in the series I liked, the other one being Faith. You kind of respected him for his loyalty to Peter. He was deeply flawed, but had a perfect balance to his character. The flaws didn’t take away from his character, instead giving him a kind of innocence. Joe only appeared in the first two issues, though, and died in the fourth one. I feel that this was a huge mistake. It took away one of the only characters you could root for, leaving you solely with Faith.
I liked Faith because she had a charismatic, fun, and out-there personality. She said what was on her mind and didn’t conform. Her great personality was paired with a power I feel will drag her down: flight. Usually a secondary power, flight isn’t the most useful ability for a superhero to have, especially in a universe with other superheroes. I’m afraid that in the later books her character will be shoved into the background for lack of a more powerful ability.
The characters in this volume are, as you can see, not the cream of the crop. Because of this, the Characters category gets zero stars.
Writing and Plot
The writing in this comic book series is very well done. It isn’t too sparse, allowing you to learn more about scenes and characters. It uses clarity; it doesn’t leave you in the dark. And things actually happen. You get something out of reading an issue. I liked the writing, but not the plot.
Harbinger’s plot would’ve been much more enjoyable if the characters were better. Not liking the main character, in this case Peter, hits the plot hard. As the story progresses, you find yourself getting less and less interested in it. It features the common theme of a school for teenagers with supernatural abilities (like in Harry Potter and Earthsea), and Harada Global Conglomerates doesn’t stand out in the crowd. Ion is Peter’s Malfoy or Jasper. Taunting, perhaps better in experience but not talent. Hidden Moon took the role of Professor Snape or Lord Gensher. Harada is (at first) his Dumbledore or Ogion. He’s wise and believes that Peter is more powerful than any of the other students, even if he does get into an inordinate amount of trouble. The plot was kind of generic.
The book has a brilliant way of making you question, as Peter questions, just how good or evil Harada and Harada Global Conglomerates were. This is a very interesting concept, but the book patterns itself after previous works on similar topics (like I mentioned above). The characters are dull and kind of stereotypical. I did appreciate their abilities, though. Faith’s is probably the least creative power in this series. But the others could be intriguing at least, mind-blowing at best, if executed properly. Most of the fight scenes were filled with empty threats rather than actual execution of the characters’ boasted abilities. Considering all the factors here, I’d give this book half a star for novelty.
This category receives half a star. I liked reading the book, even though I couldn’t get into the plot or characters. Something that I thought was both odd and interesting was that this book was (slightly) hard to put down. It had some potential as a good book, which made me want to read it. I sort of lost hope after the events of issue #4. While the book lacked its addictive quality after this, I have to give it half a star.
Like I said, the art just wasn’t for me. It felt stiff and Peter’s features were constantly changing. But I could realize that it wasn’t of terrible quality, it didn’t detract much from the story and seemed to take a bit of getting used to more than anything else. All and all, I give the art half a star. While it wasn’t for me, I could respect it as being fairly detailed and stylized.
So, Harbinger: Omega Rising ends up with two stars. Not atrocious, but I have no interest in reading the next volume. You can share your thoughts with me on my rather harsh review in the comments section below.