Joshua Dysart

Harbinger 14 (July 2013)

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Dysart has an interesting solution for returning the title to its characters. He manages to do it rather cleanly too, extricating it from the Harbinger Wars crossover. Dysart also wrote that crossover and, while this issue isn’t exactly hostile to being a crossover issue, it definitely returns the focus to what the series is about.

It’s about the characters in this book–specifically about Faith and how her attitude binds the team together. Dysart takes his time revealing his structure; it reads like the expected crossover issue, then all of a sudden a narrator with personality shows up. Faith. In some ways, she’s actually the easiest character just because the others aren’t as developed or real–but Dysart always does amazing work with her. Just amazing. He sells it sentiment with her.

Sadly, the Evans and Hairsine art gets occasionally lazy. Especially when they’re drawing faces.

Otherwise, a fine issue.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Dysart; artists, Khari Evans and Trevor Hairsine; colorist, Ian Hannin; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Josh Johns and Warren Simons; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.

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Harbinger Wars 4 (July 2013)

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Dysart brings Harbinger Wars into the station and it’s entirely unclear why they bothered with the trip at all. Besides–apparently–cutting down on cast members, the crossover event did very little. Dysart doesn’t even seem to pretend it did anything. He leaves a lot unresolved so readers have to keep going with the main series (the point of a crossover book after all); it means there’s nothing to do the story itself. Dysart can’t fake it and make Wars seem worth it.

There’s some decent art; it’s a whole lot of action. There’s not even time for character moments, especially since Dysart only gives his regular Harbinger cast the slightest attention. Even the idiotic H.A.R.D Corps guys get more attention and they’re indistinguishable, despite codenames and different physical characteristics.

Dysart tries hard to keep the battlefronts clear, but it still doesn’t work.

I’m just glad the series’s finally over.

CREDITS

The Battle for Las Vegas; writers, Duane Swierczynski and Joshua Dysart; artists, Clayton Henry, Pere Perez and Mico Suayan; colorist, Brian Reber; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editors, Josh Johns Warren Simons; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.

Harbinger 13 (June 2013)

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Why is Dysart even doing this issue? It reads like a summary of an action scene, which suggests he or Swierczynski will cover the actual action in either Harbinger Wars or Bloodshot. Probably both, actually, given what doesn’t occur in this comic.

What does occur, besides the flashback stuff, is the gang acting incompetent. I think Faith gave them a superhero team name, but I can’t remember. The Renegades, maybe?

Anyway, Torque’s still a jerk and they’re no good at stopping a single moving vehicle. It’s sort of sad.

The “interesting” stuff in the comic is the flashback to when Toyo goes up against P.R.S. back in the late sixties. Dysart is vaguely interested in these scenes and they don’t read like rote. Sadly, he seems most interested into the idea of a harbinger during the Civil Rights movement–one page.

This crossover event is strangling Dysart at this point.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Dysart; artists, Khari Evans and Trevor Hairsine; colorist, Ian Hannin; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Josh Johns and Warren Simons; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.

Harbinger Wars 3 (May 2013)

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Why am I reading this comic book? I mean, Dysart does script a good issue. It’s a little light, he’s split between way too many things and the issue isn’t oversized, but why am I reading it? It’s not escapism. It’s painfully realistic superhero comics. Introduce this likable character to kill them–seeing terribly abused kids murdered by paramilitary, blood hungry goons–fun times.

Dysart’s relentless with it too. He gets in one joke, from Bloodshot. Otherwise it’s all set up for something terrible to come, with the bad guys revealing in their badness, then showing it off as they kill kids. Then there’s the regular Harbinger duped into attacking Bloodshot and his gang of kids. Awesome.

But there isn’t an inherent seriousness to the series. It’s still kind of an X-Men knockoff, just a desperately upsetting one. Bad corporations killing dumb teenagers. Rock on.

It’s just too much.

CREDITS

Writers, Duane Swierczynski and Joshua Dysart; artists, Clayton Henry and Pere Perez; colorist, Brian Reber; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editor, Warren Simons; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.

Harbinger 12 (May 2013)

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Could this issue have uglier art? Maybe Evans and Hairsine split responsibilities? One was responsible for the heads, one for the bodies and poor Stefano Gaudiano got saddled with the task of trying to make everything seem seamless?

He didn’t. It’s ugly, ugly, ugly art. Especially since they make the colorist do the perspective in some panels. Very unfortunate.

Otherwise, it’s a decent issue. Dysart sends the regular Harbinger cast–calling themselves the Renegades now–in to meet the psiots holding the hostages in Las Vegas. There’s a nice sequence where all the regular cast meet someone knew; it’s like play dates for the psiots, even though the regular cast eventually disappears into the action. How Peter got through such an enormous hotel to stop Torque….

But it’s a decent enough issue. The flashback stuff is… well, it’s still a big company crossover. There’s only so much anyone can do.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Dysart; pencillers, Khari Evans and Trevor Hairsine; inkers, Evans, Stefano Gaudiano and Hairsine; colorist, Ian Hannin; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Josh Johns and Warren Simons; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.

Harbinger Wars 2 (May 2013)

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I love how Dysart makes sly jabs at the Valiant Universe (or whatever they call it), pointing out how bad ideas are from the nineties. It’s a weird thing, which doesn’t break the story–possibly because he’s already got the debriefing framing and it allows for a lot of colorful commentary.

It’s pretty much an all action issue, only split between the two different groups. There are the New Mutants–or whatever the kid-lead group of escaped psiots should be called–and Bloodshot and his charges. There’s also the big fight scene with Harada, which proves more entertaining than one might expect. Maybe I’m just not familiar enough with Bloodshot to know his powers are specifically designed to provide for awesome comic book action scenes. Odd science that.

The stuff with the renegade kids has more depth, but only a little.

Good stuff; Dysart ably handles a huge cast.

CREDITS

Writers, Duane Swierczynski and Joshua Dysart; artists, Clayton Henry and Pere Perez; colorist, Brian Reber; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editor, Warren Simons; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.

Harbinger 11 (April 2013)

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Dysart sort of splits the issue between the kids and Harada. I say kids but I guess they’re all eighteen plus, right? Peter and the gang. Only the Harada stuff is mostly set in the past, with Dysart fleshing out the P.R.S. history with him.

In the present, Peter and company are still recovering from their misadventure in Georgia. He then discovers his Harbinger War related destiny of saving the kids, which kicks off a lot of debate in the group. Dysart does something very interesting this issue with Torque–he’s not a particularly good guy and it remains to be seen if the altruistic adventuring will stick.

I almost think not, just because he’s so shallow. The former exotic dancer is kind of shallow too, but in a completely different way.

Dysart doesn’t spend a lot of time on character development, but the few nods are enough.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Dysart; pencillers, Khari Evans and Trevor Hairsine; inkers, Evans, Stefano Gaudiano and Hairsine; colorist, Ian Hannin; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Josh Johns and Warren Simons; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.

Harbinger Wars 1 (April 2013)

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I’m not sure what I should be getting out of Harbinger Wars. Dysart thinks things out–he structures the issue around some government types interrogating some bad corporation types. Some psiot kids got free or something, kind of has to do with Harbinger–oh, right, the good guys from Harbinger need to protect the kids from the bad guy. Bloodshot is in it too, working for the bad guy right now but I’ll bet he switches sides eventually.

It’s all prologue to something, which is pretty much the problem. It’s all setup. The Bleeding Monk tells Peter to save the kids, there’s a lot of flashbacks with the kids being mistreated, Harada pops in, but it’s mostly exposition scenes. Exposition scenes under an already expository structure.

Dysart’s writing is good, the art’s all generally fine, but there’s nothing going on yet. The first issue grabber is missing, which is unfortunate.

CREDITS

Writers, Duane Swierczynski and Joshua Dysart; artists, Clayton Crain, Clayton Henry and Mico Suayan; colorist, Brian Reber; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editors, Josh Johns and Warren Simons; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.

Harbinger 10 (March 2013)

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Now here’s a great issue. Dysart manages to turn the all-action issue into something with some content, probably because he’s got enough characters doing different things it can be a rewarding reading experience.

He opens with narration from Peter, but splits the issue between him and Faith. They have to do a rescue mission, only Faith’s the one who’s got to do the superhero stuff. The way Dysart splits the responsibility between them is part of the issue’s brilliance. His plotting here is exceptional. It’s so good, the issue can even withstand the awkward finish.

Dysart tries hard to reestablish Peter as the lead in the comic and he only partially succeeds. He still hasn’t made Peter function on his own, he always needs to be playing off someone. And the character works great with that constraint.

The art’s okay (credit should go to M. Hands).

Great, great issue.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Dysart; pencillers, Matthew Clark, Álvaro López, Dimi Macheras and Brian Thies; inkers, Clark, López, Macheras, Thies and Stefano Gaudiano; colorist, Mouse Baumann; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Jody LeHeup and Warren Simons; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.

Harbinger 9 (February 2013)

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Really nice art from Pere Pérez. Probably the most consistently good art Harbinger has had so far.

On to the story. While Dysart certainly left the cast in dire straits last issue, this issue he plays out the worst possible scenario. Not a lot of character moments–I don’t think Flamingo even has any lines–except for Faith. Well, Kris gets a good moment, but it’s Faith’s issue.

One has to wonder if Dysart plotted the whole thing to get to that result–Faith as the series’s protagonist. He does the standard hero white guy, with a cute geeky girl, a stripper (it’s still a superhero comic book after all), but the real center of the comic is Faith. The overweight nerd.

Dysart doesn’t spend an eighth as much time on anyone but Kris. She and Faith run Harbinger… to great result too.

It’s utterly fantastic work, start to finish.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Dysart; artist, Pere Perez; colorist, Ian Hannin; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Jody LeHeup and Warren Simons; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.

Harbinger 8 (January 2013)

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What a downer. Dysart opens with Harada mentally torturing a Harbinger he’s already exiled to a desert. Harada might be the comic’s biggest problem–he’s such an evil bastard, he’s not interesting. One could make the greater good argument, but there’s not enough material for it. Just sound-bytes.

Then, when Dysart gets to the renegades–Kris gets the biggest scene, her and Flamingo the stripper–they’re activating some poor kid with a physical disability. Dysart doesn’t spend a lot of time establishing the kid, just his daydreams. It means he gets to do a reveal, but it also means the issue is less effective.

The finale, with everyone in some kind of danger, comes after a big fight scene. It’s rather depressing, since the cast fights and fights yet still loses.

Realism’s unsatisfying.

Nice enough art from Lee Garbett. He’s occasionally loose but always competent.

It’s another good issue.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Dysart; artist, Lee Garbett; colorist, Mouse Baumann; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Jody LeHeup and Warren Simons; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.

Harbinger 7 (December 2012)

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Barry Kitson on pencils makes for a better looking Harbinger overall, though inkers Lee Garbett and Khari Evans could’ve picked up the slack more when Kitson gets bored. He’s always got a rushed, unfinished feel to his faces in particular.

This issue features the renegades trying to recruit more Harbingers. Dysart splits the story between Harada at the open and then this new character–Flamingo–for the rest of the issue. Flamingo’s a stripper and has had a bad life up until Peter, Faith and Kris find her.

Oh, before I forget, it’s interesting how Dysart is positioning Kris against Harada–the two masterminds.

Back to the stripper. Dysart does a good job telling her history, though the ending seems off. Faith shows up and Faith’s so naive, it’s hard to determine if people are taking advantage of her. Good or bad.

So, besides the last couple pages… great issue.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Dysart; penciller, Barry Kitson; inkers, Lee Garbett and Khari Evans; colorists, Ian Hannin and Dan Brown; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Jody LeHeup and Warren Simons; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.

Harbinger 6 (November 2012)

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Very strange stuff. Not the issue itself, which turns Kris into the protagonist of the series–it remains to be seen if Dysart maintains that position for her–but how Dysart sells the idea.

He does it very subtly, introducing all these details about Kris and her regular reading list. He establishes she’s smart, he establishes she’s informed, well-read, then sets her plan in motion.

The issue’s from her perspective; Dysart does a pretty good job with it too.

There are only two problems. First is the pacing. Once Kris’s plan becomes clear, Dysart gets reader anticipation going. It rises, rises, rises–wait, then the issue ends. Doing well backfires a little.

And Phil Briones’s pencils. The art in the issue is good half the time. The other half people look totally different from panel to panel.

Harbinger is undoubtedly compelling. Dysart probably has five good twists this issue.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Dysart; penciller, Phil Briones; inkers, Andrew Hennessy and Briones; colorist, Ian Hannin; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Jody LeHeup and Warren Simons; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.

Harbinger 5 (October 2012)

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Dysart brings Harbinger’s first arc to an extremely strong finish. He had some sublime foreshadowing earlier (it read like long-term foreshadowing, but it turns out to be short) and he doesn’t waste time establishing the characters. Instead, he just lets the scenes play out fast. For example, there’s a returning character who finally gets a name, but Dysart then develops the character (a little) in his actions. No painful expository scene.

There are also a bunch of unexpected plot twists. Three definitely surprised me; a couple more might be surprising to others. None of the surprises, even the second soft cliffhanger, feel forced. Dysart does a great job. One wonders if he had this issue in mind and just had to write to it.

He also brings in compelling supporting characters, which the book has been lacking.

The writing’s so strong, I didn’t notice if Evans messed anything up.

CREDITS

Omega Rising, Conclusion; writer, Joshua Dysart; pencillers, Khari Evans, Matthew Clark and Jim Muniz; inkers, Evans, Matt Ryan and Sean Parsons; colorists, Ian Hannin, Jeromy Cox and Chris Sotomayor; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Jody LeHeup and Warren Simons; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.