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Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the early 1990s and explore a part of the Valiant Comics shared universe through the Harbinger monthly series.
In my previous retro review, the primary characters (Peter/Sting, Kris, Faith/Zephyr, Charlene/Flamingo and John/Torque) composed of mainly young adults with different abilities were gradually introduced and together they became targets of the mysterious private organization referred to as Harbinger (led by Japanese tycoon Toyo Harada). Harbinger has vested interests in people with paranormal abilities. In order to survive, Peter and his so-called team must set aside differences and work together while making the most out of their respective abilities.
With those details laid down, here is a look back at Harbinger #2, published in 1992 by Valiant Comics with a story written by Jim Shooter and drawn by David Lapham.
The story begins at 12:03 AM of June 6, 1991. Peter, Faith, Flamingo and Torque bring their wounded teammate Kris into a hospital for immediate treatment. Upset with the hospital rules on admittance of patients, Peter uses some of his power to lift a few staffers off the floor while demanding that they treat Kris immediately. Their group was told that because they are all minors, parental consent is needed. Gunshot wounds, which Kris has, constitute reporting to the police.
Sting and his companions eventually brought Kris to a hospital bed. As he realized it is pointless to use his power on a doctor (Heyward) to force him to treat Kris, Sting uses his power to remove the two bullets out of her wounds which took a heavy toll on him. The doctor then decides to properly treat Kris.
By 4:49 AM, Kris’ condition has stabilized and the group of Sting decide to leave with their recovering companion with them. As soon as they exited the hospital, the group suddenly gets attacked by snipers…
As the heavy build-up in the first issue has been established, this comic book’s story executed some pay-off while gradually doing some new build-up of the series’ concept with expository dialogue as creative tools. For one thing, the story of Sting and his companions turned wild as the stakes have been raised further as they have become wanted people and they don’t have much resources left for survival. Next, the story suddenly created an X-Men vibe to me when the young adults take refuge inside a large and nice home of a sympathetic medical doctor they encountered earlier in the hospital.
When it comes to character development, the reluctant leader Sting got the most amount of characterization and along the way, you will see how he shifts his attention and concern to Faith, Flamingo and Torque more as Kris spent some time out of action. At this stage, Sting gradually changed from the reluctant powerful teenager into someone cares for others as they share the same desire to survive and lift themselves up. A clear 2nd to Sting on characterization is Faith who is the geek and pop culture enthusiast who tries her best to live up to the harshness of the reality they group is facing.
While Sting and his team are sympathetic to look at being targets of the dangerous organization Harbinger (note: they and their leader make their first appearances here), you will realize that they also became criminals with their acts of break-ins, fraud and robbery. These criminals act made those in issue #1 look like rehearsals. Since these powered young adults are on the run and struggling to survive, disregarding the law becomes natural for them. As such, the boundaries between right and wrong clearly got blurred not only with Sting’s team but also with Harbinger and its troops.
When it comes to the first appearances of Toyo Harada and his organization Harbinger in the pages of this comic book, I can say without spoilers that they are worth seeing and they further added depth into this comic book’s concept deep within the Valiant comic book universe.
I can say out loud that Harbinger #2 (1992) is indeed very compelling to read as the stakes have been raised, the lead characters were developed nicely and the first appearance of Harbinger as the antagonistic force all paid-off nicely to the build-up of the first issue. As far as entertainment is concerned, the reading experience is more intriguing mainly due to the strong writing by Jim Shooter and this means that the superhero spectacle was secondary but in a good way. As mentioned earlier, the border between right and wrong got blurred and I can say the same thing about Harbinger and Sting’s group. This eventually will compel you to question if Sting and his companions could still be morally acceptable or not at all as their criminal acts are undeniable. Would you be sympathizing with them? Would you think they are as bad as Harbinger? Could Sting and his team actually pose a greater danger to society than Harbinger itself? Don’t you think Sting and his companions are looking like Black Lives Matter (BLM) social terrorists? This comic book really has to be read.
Overall, Harbinger #2 (1992) is highly recommended!
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