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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, Sting, his teammates and Solar left the Harbinger facility in Texas after having an intense talk. As far as Solar is concerned, Sting is dangerous and irresponsible. He also advises the powered teenagers to abandon their mission of crushing Toyo Harada. As soon as Solar leaves, Sting decides to lead his teammates back to the Harbinger facility to resume their quest without any real preparation nor analysis. This led to a series of unfortunate events.
With those details laid down, here is a look back at Harbinger #7, published in 1992 by Valiant Comics with a story written by Jim Shooter and drawn by David Lapham.
The story begins late one evening on a road in Louisiana. Sting, Kris, Faith and Flamingo are agonizing over the sight of Torque who was just been killed by an insider while inside an ambulance.
As Flamingo starts the model prayer, Sting reveals to them that he was inside Torque’s mind and witnessed him bidding goodbye. As the police suddenly arrive, Sting and his teammates quickly climb up a tree and watched from a distance. As the cops check on the wreckage and Torque’s dead body, Sting says that the ambulance was probably registered to Eight Day or some phony front for Harbinger. Faith, Sting, Flamingo and Kris discreetly fly away to get some rest and reorganize themselves.
Elsewhere, a team of powered young adults receive much-needed assistance from the Eight Day crew and truck that arrived. They have a few teammates who got seriously injured during their battle with Sting’s team. Harada’s limousine arrives and the head of Harbinger talks with Weasel and Rock. While the two young adult tell Harada they eliminated Torque whom they identified as priority number two, the powerful boss tells them of their personal weak points and that they lost their focus on eliminating Sting who is the number one priority as he is perceived to be the greatest threat to Harbinger. Harada declares Weasel and Rock placed on probation…
The best way to describe this story is that it is essentially the aftermath of the hard battles they went through in issues #5 and #6. The main theme in this comic book is the loss of a friend (as opposed to the loss of a super human) and Jim Shooter used the loss to redevelop the main characters in varying ways. That being said, Shooter showed what the false sense of maturity among teenagers is like and why such young people lose self-control and let their emotions overwhelm their ability to reason. The pain of Torque’s death conveniently kept Sting, Faith, Flamingo and Kris from feeling any guilt about the crimes they committed (as seen in issue #2) as their leader’s obsession with beating Harada remained unchallenged. For those who love dramatics, the funeral scene is a must-see.
Apart from the story of Sting and his teammates, this comic book sheds light further on the Harbinger foundation’s use of powered young adults who were trained to use violence without any regret nor restraint. In relation to this, I find the dialogue of Toyo Harada during his interaction with Weasel and Rock to be richly layered as it emphasizes his authority and insight about priorities as well as his own in-depth knowledge on each member of his personnel. This makes Harada even more intimidating as this series’ primary super villain.
While it lacks spectacle as it was focused more on character development related to the loss of an established main character, Harbinger #7 (1992) is a dramatic character study that was compelling to read from start to finish. While the previous few issues subtly showed that the boundary between good and evil was blurred away, this comic book dramatized Sting, Faith, Flamingo and Kris to be more human and emotional. The death of Torque in the previous issue really showed its impact on his teammates realistically. Readers who enjoy dramatics will enjoy this.
Overall, Harbinger #7 (1992) is highly recommended!
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