The secret's out about superpowers among Valiant Entertainment's comics.
And for a world unaware, existence is about to be turned on its head from the streets of Tokyo to the corridors of the United Nations.
Such is the premise of Valiant Entertainment's "Harbinger" No. 20, out early next year. It sees billionaire philanthropist and industrialist Toyo Harada's secrets about superpowers exposed in a 30,000-page all-platform online expose akin to WikiLeaks in the real world.
Writer Joshua Dysart calls the new arc a window to contemporary times, noting that the title "has always been interested in using comic book superhero tropes to explore current issues like teen pharmaceutical addiction, female body-image issues, corporatism, etc."
Dysart, an Eisner Award-nominated writer whose previous works include "Violent Messiahs" and "Unknown Soldier," said "it was inevitable that we'd get around to investigating the idea of just how jarring and complex a world where all information, regardless of how dangerous or volatile it is, is free and totally accessible," referring to recent events about secrecy, eavesdropping and electronic monitoring a la Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning.
"'Harbinger' always wants to be a mirror for the world around us, albeit a funhouse pulp mirror," he said. "Being a monthly book helps us stay relatively on top of that."
In its pages, Dysart said that Harada and his Harbinger Foundation have done great things for the world, but have been harboring secrets, too. He's beneficial but not ashamed to protect himself and his interests.
"This is a man capable of great feats of mind manipulation. And he's founded an institution dedicated to training others like him. So we're talking mass mind wipes, telepathically projected misinformation and a constant physical purging of people who threaten his empire," he said, adding that while he has his supporters, including the U.S. government and the military, there are those who oppose him.
It's like any great conspiracy theory, Dysart added.
"In many instances his secrets are also their secrets," he said. "So, like any good conspiracy theory, it is in the interest of those with great power, both supernatural and the sheer force of the institutions involved, to keep the way of things secret and to fight out their conflicts in a shadow war."
Moore reported from Philadelphia.