Okay everyone, I know we interviewed Rafer Roberts on our show Comics R Kewel regarding A&A: Archer and Armstrong. Which has been a fantastic series in its own right. Well, we are pretty close to Valiant and they enjoy us promoting their books. So I got to sit back down with Rafer after they decided it was a good idea to give him another series to write. That’s right, his writing Harbinger Renegades!
RR: Rafer Roberts
IS: When HARBINGER ended, the team split up and everyone went their own separate ways. What was the challenge with getting the team back together after being separated for so long?
RR: These kids have already tried to save the world and failed hard, leading to the death of a friend and leaving the world in a much worse condition. That’s enough to strip away any naive ideaslike “the good guys always win” or “if we work hard, we can accomplish anything” and replace them with “why bother” or “it’s not my problem.” The biggest challenge was to bring them back in a way that felt natural and true to each character, and not just to force them back together because that’s what needs to happen in order to have a comic! Because of that, you’ll see certain characters take longer than others to fully rejoin the Renegades.
Kris, the non-powered member of the group and former politically-driven instigator, has moved in with her new girlfriend, Tamara, and is trying to put some sort of life together. Going back out into the world and fighting bad guys is not something Kris is interested in doing at all. She can’t keep a job and can only barely go outside. Kris’s journey of recovery, and her relationship with Tamara, is one of my favorite parts of the comic.
Peter, the most powerful superhero on Earth and a pill-popping guilt-ridden junkie. He’s spent some time on the run from his own failures and responsibilities, hitting rock bottom pretty hard. He’s been spending the past few months trying to fix himself, to get himself clean though self-discipline and meditation.
Faith is still the best of us all. She is optimistic, willing to see the good in everyone, and the only Renegade who stayed in the superhero business. But, she is tired could use some help from her old teammates.
Torque has been using his super-powers to make himself a reality TV star. He’s very interesting to me, beyond being a total douche. I feel like he’s becoming aware of the shallowness of his life, but he would never admit that.
IS: How will the Harbinger team cope with knowing that the world lives in fear of them? Are we going to see the team extend their hands to humanity in a “Trust us”-style story? Or will we see them refute society in a more rebellious “We are better”- style story?
RR: They are here to help, whether we like it or not. Beyond that, saying that the world lives in fear of them is probably too simple. That is true of some, especially after a super-powered dictator took over the middle east, but for some the idea of psiots or being a psiot is a blessing.
Imagine a person living a life of want. They are working two minimum wage jobs, just trying to make rent and pay off student loan debt. The entire system seems rigged against them. They see the rich and powerful living lives of ease and want that for themselves. Now, for that person, learning they are a potential psiot is a blessing, a chance to escape the hamster wheel they’ve found themselves in. Psiot activation is not the end of their life, but the possibility for a better one.
But, of course, with this sort of massive change to how society functions, there will be those who fear psiots. There will also be those who exploit that fear, or exploit the psiots themselves. That’s the kind of thing that Peter, Kris, Torque, Faith, Ax, and Tamara will be facing.
The Renegades are not coming from a place of blind optimism where they think that punching a bad guy can save all the world’s problems; they’ve already learned first hand that it doesn’t. These kids know that they will never be able to make the world a perfect place, but they are among those very few willing to face down their own fears in order to make the world a sightly better place. Their journey is difficult, they will often question their decisions and may not always enjoy clear cut victories, but they will continue to fight for us whether we like it or not.
IS: How HARBINGER RENEGADES affect Faith now that she has become insanely popular and has her own series?
RR: Faith will still be living a dual life, working at the news site by day and being a superhero by night. But the ever growing levels of violence in the streets has put a strain on her. She’s tired and she needs help. It’s her optimism and desire to do good that initiates the gang getting back together, and it’s that same optimism that will act as their emotional glue.
She is a big part of the team, but this is very much a team book and we’ll be exploring each and every member’s motivations and lives equally. I also think that, as a superhero fan, she would totally geek out over having a solo and team book. The Renegades are Faith’s Justice League or her Avengers.
IS: What other Valiant heroes and villains will we see in HARBINGER RENEGADES?
RR: The Renegades come together to fight a group of anti-establishment activists who are killing kids in a misguided attempt to create their own super powered allies. This group is being funded by a new villain who has the ability to accurately calculate future events and act accordingly. Theywants to save the world, even if it means killing a lot of innocent people.
IS: Will there be any new characters turning up as psiots? Will there be any surprise appearances we can look forward to?
RR: New psiots? Yes. The first arc is based around this group that is collecting potential psiots in an attempt to realize all of their anti-establishment goals. One such potential is Jay Tucker, who sees his life wrecked by villainous group’s aggressive recruiting tactics. He’ll be playing a major role in the first arc, and perhaps in arcs to come.
I would not rule out surprise appearances from other Valiant characters (it’s a shared universe and guest stars and cameos are a lot of fun to play with) but I’d prefer to keep those surprises as surprises!
IS: What other things can you reveal about HARBINGER RENEGADES’ evolution as a team now that they are building their ranks?
RR: As much as they are trying to make the world a better place, they will also be dealing with their own issues after making the world a worse place to begin with. As mentioned before, Kris will be dealing with some heavy guilt issues, Tamara (new to the hero game) will be making some major life adjustments, Peter will be dealing with his pharmaceutical addiction, and Faith and Torque will be figuring out how to be teammates after no longer being a couple.
With emotion and character at the core of the series, it’s important to have an artist who can convey such things (as well as draw some killer superhero action) such as Darick Robertson. Darick has this unique linework that captures a textured realworld feel without ever venturing too far into realism. His ability to utilize character posture and acting in order to convey emotion and personality is perfect for this story. All of this is under Richard Clark’s ink lines, which (I feel) bring out the best in Darick’s pencils. Inkers, good inkers, should bring something to the table and I believe that Richard is doing that. We also have Diego Rodriguez on colors, kicking some serious ass as well.
Character is at the heart of the series, and all the stories will spring from The Renegades’ personal relationships. You can have all of the cool supervillains or crazy sci-fi in the world, but it’s nothing without that emotional center keeping it together.