Joshua Dysart Takes Valiant's HARBINGER WARS to Las Vegas

Harbinger Wars #2


For the second month of Harbinger Wars — the revived Valiant's first crossover since resuming publishing last year — the action moves to Las Vegas. Series co-writer Joshua Dysart is happy about it, even if his personal experiences in the city have been mixed at best.

"The first 24 hours in Vegas is an extraordinary experience, and the second 24 is the grossest, most vile thing that you possibly could ever do," Dysart told Newsarama, while acknowledging how well the city lends itself to fiction. "I've been trying to set stuff in Vegas for years and years and years, and have had publishers resist, so this is pretty exciting."

Harbinger Wars starts in April, and consists of a main four-issue series co-written by Dysart and Duane Swierczynski, with art by Clayton Henry. For those four months, Harbinger (written by Dysart and illustrated by Khari Evans) and Bloodshot (written by Swierczynski and illustrated by Barry Kitson) will tie-in to the larger story, that sees two dozen superpowered kids escape from Project Rising Spirit, and get the attention of Bloodshot, Toyo Harada and Peter Stanchek.

Harbinger #12

cover by Amy Reeder.

By May's Harbinger Wars #2, the Project Rising Spirit escapees will take over a casino. Dysart said that Las Vegas works well as a setting for a couple of reasons.

"It's the perfect place to rebel against society and against the generation of excess," Dysart said, an aspect he sees as fitting in well with established Harbinger themes. "It gives us lots of props to blow up. It's the city of lights, the city of consumption. Both thematically and as a straight-up set piece, it was just perfect."

Dysart says he's "not an escapist by nature," and values setting stories in real-world environments. He's extending that ethos to Harbinger Wars, and says the action taking place somewhere recognizable helps to ground the fantastic elements.

"I'm really obsessed with time and place," Dysart said. "I think that these pulp stories that we tell are kind of important, or at least they can be, if we tell them correctly. By couching them in a real time, in a real place, it brings a weight to it."

According to Valiant's executive editor, Warren Simons, that school of thought applies to the company as a whole.


"We're trying to make [Harbinger Wars] super-accessible, we're trying to make the story super-exciting," Simons said. "One of the things that we like to do is to tie in what's happening in the books to what's going on in the world outside, so it's an entry point that readers can understand."

Character is also very important to Harbinger Wars, especially the new ones introduced by Dysart and Evans via Project Rising Spirit. The writer said it was "definitely a challenge" to introduce so many characters into the narrative, but collaborating with Evans was a major asset.  Harbinger is the first major comic book project in recent years for the artist, who had been working in the video game industry.

"It's so nice to have somebody come back from video games into comics, because there's so much imagination in his character work," Dysart said of Evans.

Harbinger Wars

#2 variant cover

by Clayton Crain.

The Harbinger tie-in issues will include flashback sequences to set up a parallel narrative to the Harbinger Wars narrative, an opportunity Dysarts calls "almost novelistic."

"[The tie-in issues] really explore what PRS is, where Harada came from as far as his American corporate background, and their relationship with each other," Dysart said. "It's kind of beautiful to inform the present narrative that's happening in Harbinger Wars, with the past narratives that are going to be occurring throughout Harbinger proper. As a storyteller, it gives me such a larger palette to work with."

Harbinger Wars is also the first time in Dysart's career that he's worked with a co-writer, and he says it's been a welcome experience.

"One of the things that's a little bit tough about being a comic book writer, is that it's kind of a solitary thing," the writer said. "Duane has this desire to reach for the most outrageous creative decision in the moment, that I adore, and that I sort of have as well."


Crossovers are also something new for the and writer, but he knew what he definitely wanted to avoid.

"The reason why there's crossover fatigue in this industry is because, almost without even hiding it, these crossovers are generally designed as just attempts to hijack the reader, and demand more money from them," Dysart said. "They're sometimes built to be unreadable unless you spend more money than you normally would that month. I just didn't want to do that. I really wanted the reader to make the choice to get involved with our rich tapestry.

"Hopefully we succeed at creating individual books that function singularly." 

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