Review by Karl Verhoven
In totality Harbinger Wars is a relatively complex story formed of three intersecting segments. Each can be read without reference to the remainder, but for full immersion you’ll also want to track down Harbinger: Harbinger Wars, and the separate Harbinger Wars graphic novel. Alternatively they’re both collected along with this in the Harbinger Wars Deluxe Edition.
Bloodshot is Valiant’s all-purpose killing machine, fused with tiny computers, nanites, that circulate in his bloodstream and almost instantaneously repair any damage to his body. In The Rise and Fall he freed a bunch of mutant children, Psiots in Valiant’s world, and as the story begins he’s leading them to freedom across the Nevada desert. In an imaginative opening sequence Duane Swierczynski displays just what the children are capable of when a battle hardened and heavily armed squad of mercenaries arrive to capture them. It’s both compelling and horrific, but Bloodshot warned them “You’ve just stepped into someone else’s war. If I were you I’d run back to your choppers and fly away as fast as you can”, and it’s not his fault they didn’t listen.
People associated with Bloodshot’s creators, Project Rising Spirit, aren’t the only ones tracking the children. Toyo Harada, ostensibly one of the world’s richest industrialists, but actually one of the most powerful minds on Earth, also has plans for them.
Barry Kitson translates Swierczynski’s script into forceful action pages, although scenes of Bloodshot having his facial skin shredded are a little too gruesome for what’s supposed to be an action comic aimed at teenage level and above. He spends much of the graphic novel in that condition. Kitson’s adaptable enough to incorporate a painted tranquil sequence very different from the way he illustrates the remainder of the book, and ensures the military uniforms and hardware have an authenticity about them.
Bloodshot’s past is mixed into the present day events as he brings them ever closer to Las Vegas, at which point they draw the attention of Peter Stanchek and friends from Harbinger. The events take their toll on Bloodshot and there’s plenty needing fixed in the following H.A.R.D. Corps. It’s been a terrifying ride, but not one that does a lot for Bloodshot himself. While he’s on panel more than any other character, he’s still lost in the shuffle of other events, and there’s a feeling of the story Bloodshot fans really want to read being postponed to sell other Valiant titles.