It’ll send you mad

Written by Collin Kelly & Jackson Lanzing
Art by Robbi Rodriguez
Colouring by Rico Renzi
Lettering by Hassan Ostmane-Elhaou

There have been many questions brought up in The Harbinger. What happened to Peter’s memory? Why are there two Peters? Which is the real Peter? Is there a real Peter? What is the bad Peter’s ultimate evil plan? Are all Peters the worst? We get the answers in this issue as we end this first arc which has reintroduced us to Peter Stanchek and tried to give him a fresh direction, bringing one of the Valiant universe’s most powerful characters back down to street level.

It’s reassuring that we get the answers here and they aren’t necessarily the answers I expected, but that’s a good thing. This really is a storm of complicated emotional thoughts from both Peters, which turns into a deep dive into the mind of the Peter Stancek. Both the Peter we knew and the Peters we now find ourselves with. It’s a real trip in so many ways.

That’s really reflected in the art, which does have a mind bending feel in parts as the two Peters travel back through their memories to uncover the truth and we find out how we ended up with two Peters. There are really great splash pages that really illustrate this well. One standout is the page where the two Peters, locked in combat, seem to fly through photographs of recent memories as they spiral down toward the truth.

Then there’s the moment of revelation where we get the reveal of how the Renegade came to be, with Peter at the centre, the Renegade Peter (the bad one for those of you not keeping up) screaming. The expression is sheer horror mixed with terror. It’s amply aided by some absolutely stellar lettering as his screaming denials break out of a speech bubble and tumble out across a black background.

There’s also the point where we get a merging of the two Peter in thought and speech. With appropriate shading of the thought bubbles to reflect this against a background of several Peters. It’s a really good choice and it gets to the heart of what this book is about. Peter Stanchek, who he is, what he is, and the need to do better. It’s a page where there’s struggle and it’s immediately clear what this struggle is ultimately about, the age old good versus evil and the fact we all have good and evil inside us.

Every panel that has the confrontation between the two Peters is really dynamic. There’s the pink power of the Renegade Peter contrasting with the yellow power of the Harbinger Peter. At points it’s like waves of power coming at each other and then in other panels it appears to swirl around them. The way the action is drawn combined with the colours really works excellently.

There is no neat resolution to the Harbinger and Renegade dynamic. Which is a good thing because it sets up for more going forward. The battle between good and evil is a pretty eternal one when you think about it and there hasn’t been a Psiot bad guy since Harada. So it seems fitting that we’re looking at something similar here. Things are nicely set up for the next arc where will be getting the return of Faith, always something to look forward to.

Peter will never be my favourite character but I am pleased to see him put effort into being better. His journey into the ins and outs of Peter Stanchek himself serves that concept really well.

Overall there’s some really excellent art and lettering which services a great plot and solid character insight. If you have not read The Harbinger yet what better point to start than to go back and read this first arc?

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