Missed it the first time (mostly because of how popular it ended up being), but I finally found a copy of HARBINGER #0. We all know Toyo Harada’s mission: to make the world a better and more ordered place…at all costs. But what drives this powerful psychic on his mission? Where did such a man begin?
The story of Toyo Harada, founder of the Harbinger Foundation, begins where many such stories start: in World War II. Of course it does. Though at least this backstory is connected to the Pacific theater of the war as opposed to the European one (heck, we rarely even see that theater from its Eastern front, but that’s a whole different story). By framing it as a story told by Harada to Darpan – the young Indian lad born with his abilities activated – we learn that Harada was a young boy when the bombs fell.
Oh right, then there’s that bit of cliché. I don’t mean to sound petulant, but there’s only so many times we can invoke these things before they lose all meaning. There were other awful things that happened in WWII besides the holocaust or the atomic bombs, guys. Try to branch out.
Still, HARBINGER #0 is a pretty tragic story. It shows Harada after the loss of his mother in the bomb, his attempts to survive in the ruins of Hiroshima, and his awakening as a psionic. It shows how he first used his powers, as well as his dreams of the Bleeding Monk, the man who would eventually become Harada’s council. And it shows the events that would inform Harada’s worldview; how he sees he world and why he chooses certain actions over others.
Other than that, nothing from the main plot of the book is advanced. Obviously, it’s a zero issue. I honestly didn’t expect Valiant to be releasing zero issues; didn’t seem like something one does when they only publish five ongoing series. Then again, there’s nothing wrong with a zero issue, and the Big Two don’t have a monopoly on the concept. But since this is a side story without immediate bearing on the main plot, you aren’t missing anything if you decide to skip it. It’s a rare thing when a number zero is vitally important to a storyline that it’s required reading.
Buy it, don’t buy it. Don’t lose sleep over the decision. It’s good, not essential. Unless of course you like Darpan, the innocent nightmare fuel injector, in which case it’s non-optional.