Pros: The book is smart and delivers a solid message. It also finally reveals more about Toyo Harada. In addition, it helps to justify the lackluster ending of the “Harbinger Wars” event.
Cons: The ending is very abrupt and sudden. Characterization is better but still weird in places.
Overall: So far, Harbinger has been a series that gets some things right while also finding plenty to get wrong. This volume takes those past mistakes and learns from them, finally delivering the best Harbinger story yet. It is entertaining, suspenseful, and action packed, while also giving readers some complexity to reflect on. This is a great volume that anyone who has been reading Harbinger will be able to enjoy.
This review only covers the storyline contained in the Harbinger comic series. It does not cover the events of Harbinger Wars (Review) and Bloodshot Vol. 3: Harbinger Wars. See the Continuity section below for more details.
Thus far, the Harbinger series has been a little bit of a disappointment. It has a ton of potential, but a myriad of problems prevent it from being what it is truly meant to be. Harbinger Vol. 3: Harbinger Wars gives a fantastic glimpse at how good this series can be. It is action packed while still being smartly written, approachable without being dumbed down. It still has its flaws but it is a marked improvement on what happened before, and hopefully an optimistic indication of what is yet to come.
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As indicated by the book’s title, much of this volume is focused on the “Harbinger Wars” event. The general vibe of this event can be found in our review of the Harbinger Wars collection, found right here. In this particular volume though, the “Harbinger Wars” allows for the return of what has made this series great so far. There is plenty of action, the superheroics are fun to watch, and Faith continues to be an excellent character. Fans of the series so far will definitely not be disappointed with any of the changes this series makes with its “Harbinger Wars” crossover.
In fact, when dealing with this event, this book manages to deliver an ending that is almost satisfying enough to make up for the poor ending found in Harbinger Wars (Review). In Harbinger Wars (Review) the entire story completely ends when Toyo Harada shows up and shuts down the fighting, it is a deus-ex-machina that shuts down the story right in the middle of the rising action. This volume does the same thing, yet its epilogue offers up an explanation to this which works surprisingly well. It suggests that life does not always work out like a perfect story and that sometimes things just fall apart, as they did in this event. This humanizes the event as a whole and gives it a striking sense of realism. Though simply acknowledging a story’s flaws does not completely make up for them, it certainly does a lot to help and also manages to add to it in other ways.
Despite much of this book focusing on the “Harbinger Wars”, the book’s best part is its exploration of Toyo Harada. This character has thus far been an enigma, so it is very satisfying to finally learn something about him. He is presented as a tragic character, someone who has been through hell and seen the worse in everyone, yet still desires to do good. This is the most vulnerable Harada has been, enough so that he is almost painted in a sympathetic light. The introduction of this complexity to Harada is tremendously beneficial to both his character and the development of the series’ main story. It turns the reading into a thoughtful look at the question “what is right?”, instead of being just about kids running from adults.
The only real problem with this book is the continued existence of some flaws carried over from previous volumes; with the biggest being how characters seem to be unable to break from just being simple stereotypes. Torque is the tough jerk; Flamingo is the dumb, pretty one; and Kris is the smart, mean one. They seem to be evolving slightly, but still are not quite there yet.
(spoilers end here)
The art throughout most of this issue is done by Khari Evans. This is the same artist who did the past volumes so make sure to see our reviews of those (here and here) in order to see a more in depth discussion of the art.
This story is a continuation of the story in Harbinger Vol. 2: Renegades (Review). The story here will be continued in the next collection, Harbinger Vol. 4: Perfect Day.
This comic is also part of the “Harbinger Wars” event, which flows out of the storylines from Harbinger Vol. 2: Renegades (Review) and Bloodshot Vol. 2: The Rise and Fall (Review). The event as a whole takes place in three separate books, which all happen concurrently with each other. Because these three comics all take place at the same time, some parts of this book will only make sense with information from the other series. The relevant events of the other two series are collected in Harbinger Wars (Review) and Bloodshot Vol. 3: Harbinger Wars.