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Harbinger: The Beginning    by Jim Shooter, David Lapham & Bob Hall order for
by Jim Shooter
Order:  USA  Can
Valiant Entertainment, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

When Pete Stancheck sends a letter to the Harbinger Foundation, he believes he is doing the right thing. Pete has been noticing changes lately - changes that go beyond the typical adolescent transitions. He's hearing peoples' thoughts, reacting with lightning-quick speed, and can use his voice to make others do what he wants.

The Harbinger Foundation recruits Pete and many others with similar abilities, with plans of training tomorrow's fighting elite. But Pete is not convinced of the organization's good intentions and this concern is solidified when he discovers they killed his best friend. Before the Harbinger Foundation can stop Pete, he has escaped. Now their leader, Toyo Harada, will stop at nothing to either bring Pete back into line to kill him. But Pete has other plans - plans that include recruiting his own group of super-powered people to fight back against Harbinger and its nefarious leader.

Incorporating issues 0 through 7 of the Harbinger comic book series of the 1990s, this hardcover collection captures the first major story arc of the series along with an extra story retelling Harada's origin and rise to power. The first part of this story is adapted from panels posted on the back of coupons from the first six issues, while the end piece is a fully flushed out story. The graphic novel comes well over a decade after the meteoric rise of Valiant Comics and its stark decline after the comic book bust of the 1990s. But the story feels fresh and is still a great read, some fifteen years after its original release in 1992.

The glossy pages and digital upgrade on the art certainly makes this book much more enjoyable to the eyes. However, despite the upgrade, the characters still seem to be a bit discolored or at least inconsistently colored. Additionally, it seems surprising that for this big hardcover edition, there aren't textual extras such as a preface by a famous former Valiant artist or an interview with the writers and artists.

Despite that, this collection packs a powerful and fun adventure about youths rising up and making a change through their powers - and more importantly, their beliefs. Like other series of the time, the tale pitted youth against adults in what seems to be the eternal generational conflict, but with more dire consequences.

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