Review by Karl Verhoven
In Valiant’s universe the Harbinger Foundation is the equivalent of the X-Men’s School for Gifted Youngsters, where Psiots (as mutants are known) can be trained in the best use of their powers by an independently wealthy benefactor away from prying eyes. Toya Harada looks considerably younger than his eighty plus years, and the Harada Global Conglomorates runs a worldwide foundation aimed at the betterment of humanity. What isn’t public is that he has a form of super powers, and he’s keen to recruit Peter Stanchek, medicated since childhood to prevent him hearing the thoughts of others.
The way Joshua Dysart and Khari Evans introduce Stanchek over two chapters is a great piece of superhero comics. They explain who he is, his torments and his desires, and then how truly terrifying he can be when he unleashes his full potential after severe provocation. Dysart and Evans start slowly, but then accelerate the pace, with Evans fantastic at cross-cutting between actions and effects to induce a miasma of events spiralling out of any form of retrievable control. They also serve up a superhero series with layers, where perhaps not all motivations are pure. We see that Stanchek crosses a line from doing what’s necessary to survive to satisfying personal desire.
A number of other characters are introduced at the midway point before the focus shifts to the overweight and geeky Faith Herbert, who’d prove to be one of Valiant’s most popular characters, which is astounding considering superhero comics thrive on physical perfection. “OMG. A fire truck” is the first comment thrown in her direction, but her enthusiastic personality is winning from the start.
Everything leads to an excellent final chapter, and while its contents may not be entirely unexpected, the way events play out is unpredictable and thrilling. Omega Rising is an interesting twisting of expectation, toying with reader familiarity with the X-Men to produce something different. While this is top notch superheroics, a couple of story elements are a little too convenient, the character motivation for their occurring unconvincing, but that can be overlooked when so much is produced to high standards.
Omega Rising is also combined with the next volume, Renegades, and the following Harbinger Wars in the hardcover Deluxe Edition, which could be considered a better purchase for the chance to see Evans’ art at a larger size. For the sake of honesty it should be noted that Lewis Larosa and Matthew Clark also draw some pages beyond the first episode, with Larosa in particular ensuring the joins are seamless.