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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, Faith, Kris and Flamingo adjusted themselves to normal living. As far as they are concerned, several months had passed for them during their time in the unknown world during the events of Unity. For their real world, however, very little time had passed. They also took a renewed effort to search for powered beings like themselves as part of their plan to protect themselves and be able to take down the Harbinger foundation in due time.
With those details laid down, here is a look back at Harbinger #12, published in 1992 by Valiant Comics with a story written and drawn by David Lapham.
The story begins during the wee hours of September 4, 1992 inside the rented house occupied by Sting, Flamingo, Kris and Faith. Flamingo wakes up from another nightmare causing her to unintentionally burn part of her bed. Her teammates rush in to comfort her and it turns out Flamingo just had her third nightmare of the week which reflects her sadness over the death of their late teammate Torque. In response to this, Sting takes Faith with him to fly out and do some information gathering at the Harbinger office in New York.
It turns out Sting had been covertly breaking in to the said office in recent times primarily to get information about the latest moves of the one organization that wants them defeated. After sneaking into the New York office of Harbinger, Sting uses his power on a Harbinger employee named Joan to get codes from her to get into the organization’s computer network…
Considering how I felt after reading issue #11, this comic book series indeed took a turn to a new creative direction under David Lapham’s writing (note: this is the 2nd Harbinger story Lapham wrote). Not only did Sting and his teammates gain a new member with Shatiqua, they daringly pursued another dangerous mission that could be described as reckless and even idiotic. Even though they knew that the Harbinger foundation was strongly powerful and had many powered young adults as opposition, revenge over the death of Torque motivated them to take on their enemies head-on one member at a time.
David Lapham successfully portrayed Sting and his team to be as ruthless as Harbinger which strongly symbolizes the blurring of the boundary between good and evil. With regards to Sting, I saw a powerful teenager who could someday grow to be an evil leader similar to his rival and main target Toyo Harada. The mere fact that revenge was the objective for the team shows how dark Sting has turned even though he believes that he and his teammates are victims trying to survive and be free from the present danger of the Harbinger foundation.
Along the way, this comic book shows Flamingo at her most emotional state as she still clings on to the ate Torque. Her portrayal in this comic book is quite believable as it reflects the difficulties that teenagers in real life experience when it comes to letting go of the past and struggle to move forward as they carry bitterness and pain with them.
If you are looking for superhero spectacle, there is a lot to enjoy here. I won’t say how it is presented because that is something you yourselves should read and discover.
Harbinger #12 (1992) is a very solid read! What Jim Shooter established for this series with the first ten issues, David Lapham carefully moved the narrative forward to a new direction while still maintaining the elements that defined the main characters, why they exist and what they are fighting for. At this stage in the Harbinger series, Sting, Faith, Flamingo and Kris (plus new member Shatiqua) continue to operate as a team while disregarding the laws and morality because they truly believe that they are victims and moving targets of Harada and the Harbinger foundation. This comic book also has an excellent mix of storytelling, characterization and superhero action while still feeling like it is all grounded with reality (note: the X-Men comics published the same year as this had more fantasy elements). Right now, I’m happy with the way Lapham is handling the story and I’m looking forward to the next issue.
Overall, Harbinger #12 (1992) is highly recommended!
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