Harbinger Renegade #6
Written by: Rafer Roberts
Art by: Juan José Ryp and Andrew Dalhouse
Published by: Valiant Comics

Even before I read Harbinger Renegade #6 I received some of the book’s preview pages. I loved the very scary and eerie front cover but the actual preview pages were…I don’t want to say off-putting. Maybe the better word is puzzling. When I got the actual issue and pieced through it I was even more puzzled. Puzzled and frustrated.

The Harbinger Renegade relaunch was amazing and I really enjoyed each and every issue as they were released. After a hiatus the title returned with last month’s issue 5. The actual Renegade team didn’t show up in their own book as H.A.R.D. Corps battled the Generation Zero kids. I guess I completely assumed that issue five would lead right into some angry Renegades getting fired up in issue six.

My assumption was wrong. Dead wrong. The storyline doesn’t continue from the previous issue. It doesn’t show us the aftermath of the H.A.R.D. Corps vs. Generation Zero fight. I’m going to say this because I really don’t think it a spoiler…but the Renegade team, once again, does not appear in their own comic.

What is going on? And what exactly is Harbinger Renegade #6 about?

The book is about a bunch of knights in the year 1097 who are going on a quest to kill what they think is a demon – who is actually a very powerful psiot. This order, named The Brotherhood of Cuth, have ventured out before to kill this psiot but each previous attempt was unsuccessful. So now we follow Sir Gerald of Catalonia as he and his fellow knights venture forth to try and kill this psiot named Alpha again.  Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more.

What we get are pages of gorgeous artwork by Juan José Ryp with panel after panel after panel of narration. It is an inordinate amount of exposition. The knight finally arrive many pages later and the fight is on. As Miracle Max once said, “Have fun storming the castle.”

Do you know what? I just didn’t care. I didn’t. I didn’t care about the knights nor this powerful psiot guy. I didn’t care about the long journey of Sir Gerald and his men. Didn’t care about them trying to sack Alpha’s castle. I went ahead and reread the issue to see if maybe I was missing something. Like I was completely missing the point here. I don’t believe that I did.

NOW – I’m fairly certain that the events of issue 5 and the events of issue 6 will somehow come together in future issues of Harbinger Renegade. I’m sure everyone will need to band together to stop some future threat.

But here’s the thing. Why did Harbinger Renegade go on hiatus for all of those months and then come back to not actually feature the Renegade team? While I really enjoyed last issue and gave it high marks I now look at that issue with this issue and wonder….why is this story being told here in Harbinger Renegade?

What I mean by this is I’m fully aware that all of this will tie in together. But why not make this story a separate tie-in book? The amazing people at Valiant could have told this story months ago, titled the book “The Brotherhood of Cuth: Alpha” or something, and slapped a “Harbinger Renegade Tie-In” graphic on the front cover. I would have read it and still probably thought it not a captivating tale. 467 narrative captions will do that to me. But they could have told this story separately and actually had the Harbinger Renegade team in their own book dealing with the events of issue 5 and then this side story.

Instead we are two issues into a book about the Renegade team where there are no Renegades. It’s frustrating. It is truly and deeply frustrating. It is completely puzzling when you look at the rest of Valiant’s line-up right now. Most of their books are absolutely killing it. But guess what?  You get 100% more Renegades in the Faith and the Future Force comic then you do in their own title. Just take that fact in for a moment.

Even putting aside my immense bewilderment of what is going on with this book I will say that the story itself wasn’t that captivating. The story behind it is okay but the way it is presented to the reader doesn’t suck you in. It’s like going to a drama or action movie where none of the character’s speak for minutes and minutes and minutes on end as some narrator tells you what is going on. A bit of narration can work. Narration in a documentary film can really work. The narration here? It doesn’t work. The characters do finally speak later in the book so they aren’t mutes. There was a ton of exposition for exposition’s sake.

So I’m disappointed and I don’t think I’ve been truly disappointed in a Valiant book since the 1997 Ninjak relaunch (no offense to Kurt Busiek…or Rafer Roberts to boot).  It’s not just that I had an expectation that wasn’t met which was presuming that the Renegade team would appear in their own book (which really shouldn’t be all that presumptuous).  But why relaunch a Harbinger comic after a long hiatus and not feature the characters people are buying it for? I really just don’t know.

RANK: D

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