Review by Karl Verhoven
Joshua Dysart concluded a five volume story in Death of a Renegade. An all-out assault by Peter Stanchek and his Rrenegades brought considerable changes to the world of industrialist Toyo Harada, not least outing him as something completely different to the person he masqueraded as. What happened next, however, wasn’t Stanchek’s desired outcome. “I will continue to exist independently from your morality and your laws, and from this moment forward no government on Earth will oppose my will.” As a now outed Harada consolidates his power, Stanchek is wallowing in misery, using his vast mental abilities to conjure up ghosts of dead friends. The ‘omegas’ of the title, however, refers to the power levels of the two protagonists.
From the start Dysart has surprised with Harbinger, pulling his story in unexpected directions, and he does that again in Omegas, although not as successfully as before. It’s stressed that Harada’s been dragged kicking and screaming from his comfort zone. So used to scheming and playing the long game, he’s now had to react to new circumstances without a plan and is making one as he goes along. Uncertainty is his new default.
Superhero comics are all about the conflict, right? Well that certainly happened in Death of a Renegade, which was awesome, but paints Dysart into a corner. Repeating it would result in diminishing returns, so instead Omegas disappoints in a different way, being little more than a set-up for the Imperium series. For someone thinking on the hoof, Harada’s plan to occupy Africa is sound, and surely no-one could object to his clearing a terrorist organisation from Somalia, but what will the rest of the world do? That’s not really answered properly, with the global political considerations reduced to the USA, and the Renegades reduced to a supporting role as Harada takes centre stage.
Rafa Sandoval’s not the most exciting artist to have worked on the Harbinger series, but he has the basics down. He is rather shown up, though, by the folk drawing the other story collected in this book. ‘Bleeding Monk’ begins with the extraordinary work of Mico Suayan, then rotates through Khari Evans, Stephen Segovia, and Lewis LaRosa, all of whose pages make a greater impression than those of Sandoval.
Over the course of Harbinger, Dysart’s made it clear that the Bleeding Monk has been integral to Harada’s story without ever clarifying exactly who he is or his purpose. He’s intervened when necessary, and has apparently been able to foresee the future, but has he been honest? That’s not entirely answered here, but a big hint is certainly dropped as the Monk contemplates episodes from his centuries long life. It’s an interesting blend of philosophy and violence, with Dysart playfully undercutting the portentous tone on a couple of occasions. Because this story looks so good it’s a rare example of the bonus material outclassing the feature presentation.
Peter Stanchek and the Renegades are next seen in Harbinger: Armor Hunters, and this is also available in the second Harbinger Deluxe Edition.