Harbinger #21 continues the story begun in #20, that of a young, non-psiot hacker, @x, who is looking for revenge against Harada and pulls Peter’s Renegades in along with him by intentionally releasing large amounts of information Harada had kept hidden—and not hiding his trail, leaving the Renegades to rescue him or let things fall apart. They chose to rescue him, and now he is in their underground hideout meeting “real live superhumans” for the first time. They’re not happy with him: All their careful planning is going to count for nothing if @x’s release pushes Harada into desperate action.
Dysart’s writing in Harbinger #21 shows what the stakes are here: Harada could lose his entire empire which might, as Kris points out, make him worse. Peter’s team, on the other hand, might lose their freedom again—or they might regain it. A look at life in hiding demonstrates that they need to act quickly if they’re going to keep themselves from self-destructing. Hiding is only relatively safe.
Henry’s work fills in some of the personalities here. Monica Jim’s sleek, slant-eyed cat form matches well with her later willful self-containment. Harada’s determination as he marches down the hallway in an oversized panel is chilling. @x, especially, gets developed here, showing a range from wide-eyed, wiry kid to an unexpected determination and a deep sorrow. He’s something of an audience viewpoint character, a brilliant, but non-superhuman kid finding himself now part of—even trapped in—a superhuman world he has read about but does not even begin to comprehend.
One final note: The “Resistance” storyline is a difficult one for a newcomer to start with. There are perfectly adequate summaries at the beginning of the books, giving a sense of what happened, but there are also a lot of new characters to track, and their personalities, while well-drawn, are still only sketchily given—no surprise given their numbers. Peter’s the sober, over-burdned leader, Flamingo’s the party girl, Torque is–strong and innocent? Not what he appears?—and so on. Harada is still offstage, though a reader who has been following Unity (and if you’re not, why not?) will have some idea who he is. Plus there are three separate secret organizations in this mix. It is mildly confusing, but one gets the sense that in the long run, it will be worth taking the time to break into this fascinating, complex world.