Fans of The Harbinger, rejoice: Valiant Entertainment‘s super telepath series returns in 2021. The new book, from co-writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly and artist Robbi Rodriguez, follows the story of “the most powerful telepath on the planet,” tracing said character’s “path from the most feared man in the world to one of its greatest protectors.” Color me intrigued…
In the lead up to the summer debut, we have an exclusive interview with the book’s editor, Heather Antos. While much of The Harbinger remains clouded in mystery (save for some preview images you can view below), Antos discusses the series, describing it as a “punk rock Akira,” as well as its creation and “socio-relevance,” among other topics. In simplest terms: Be Better.
AIPT: Heather, thanks for taking the time to talk a little bit about Harbinger, but before we get into that, how are you hanging in with the pandemic, how is Valiant doing during all this?
Heather Antos: Well, personally, I got a puppy six months ago, so needless to say my pandemic has been filled with training, tricks, treats, and a lot of puppy-filled selfies! As for Valiant, we are super excited to being able to publish comics again and are moving ahead with our plans full steam! There’s so many exciting projects in the pipeline — like The Harbinger — that I cannot wait to get out into the world!
AIPT: It has been a spell since we’ve seen The Harbinger. What makes summer 2021 the right time to unveil this character back on the world?
HA: I mean, if we had had our druthers, you would’ve seen The Harbinger in 2020. (Damn you, COVID-19! **shakes fist in air**). Since its earliest issues in the ’90s, Harbinger was always a story meant to reflect the modern day. It screamed socio-relevance. From Shooter and Lapham’s superhero rebellion, to Joshua Dysart’s punk rock renegades, and now to Lanzing and Kelly’s The Harbinger — Peter Stanchek is a revolutionary hero. Something I think it’s fair to say the world needs now more than ever.
AIPT: Both writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly have backgrounds in Star Trek comics. Is that a coincidence or a perfect match?
HA: Jackson and Collin both have such a strong resume — which their work on Star Trek obviously can attest. Being able to come in to an existing franchise with a very vocal and strong fanbase can be extremely intimidating to ANY creator. Luckily for Valiant, Jackson and Collin also happen to be some of the biggest Valiant fans I know!
AIPT: I’m getting some The Matrix vibes from Robbi Rodriguez’s promo art, and not to get into too heavy a pitch, but what is the hook of this series for readers?
HA: Around here we’ve been referencing Robbi’s and Rico’s work as “Punk Rock Akira” — but I may steal Matrix from you, too! As for the book itself, the world is still reeling from Toyo Harada and the Harbinger Foundation’s turmoil, and no one has seen or heard wind of Peter Stanchek since Harbinger Wars 2…until now. Peter wakes up in Chicago with no memory of who is his, what he can do, or what he has done. But as Peter discovers his past (thanks to some new friends among the old), he must make the decision on what type of hero he could really be — and that starts with holding up a mirror to himself…and to the world.
AIPT: As an editor, forgive me for not knowing this, do you put together the creative team personally? Are you like the coach selecting the players for the best team possible?
HA: More or less! Sometimes creators come to you (the editor) with a want to tell a specific story or work with a specific character — but nine times out of 10 with established IP the editors are reaching out to talent. It’s like alchemy! This writer plus this artist plus this character plus this concept….does it equal gold? It’s a very exciting part of the process!
AIPT: The character in the promo art is Peter Stanchek (aka Sting) — is that right?
HA: Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaybe 😉
AIPT: The concept of the “runaway teen” as previous Harbinger books have put it is made more obvious by the symbol of the bird of the book. Being spray-painted on Peter Standchek’s back, does that theme still stand in this new series?
HA: The thing with runaways is typically they aren’t just running away from something — they are often searching for something else. Running to something else. They just don’t often know what that something else is. Is it themselves? A savior? Hope? Spray painting a symbol — like the bird on Peter’s jacket — is a very deliberate choice for him to make. It’s a beacon, of sorts. Something to run to.
AIPT: How long has this book been in the works? Seeing as it’s out next summer I’m curious how far back in time it goes where the project started to get off the ground.
HA: My initial conversation with Jackson and Collin was NYCC 2019 and I think Robbi and Rico were brought on maybe in December/January soon after. Suffice it to say, we’ve had a LOT of time to work on this book. There’s been so much love and care put into Peter, these characters, their story, and this world, and we simply cannot wait for everyone to experience it with us!
AIPT: If you were to boil down The Harbinger, the series itself, into one word what would it be and why?
HA: Well if I told you why that’d be more than one word, wouldn’t it? I’ll give you two: Be Better.