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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 story heavily emphasized the thoughts, feelings and acts of Kris who is trying to live a normal life, maintain her relationship with Sting and also dealing with the vision she had about the infant she lost who eventually grew up to be Magnus the robot fighter. While Sting and his teammates deal with their domestic matters without the hassle of being held accountable for the crimes they committed, the Harbinger foundation keeps on training several powered young adults called Eggbreakers for dangerous missions.
With those details laid down, here is a look back at Harbinger #15, published in 1993 by Valiant Comics with a story written by Maurice Fontenot and illustrated by Howard Simpson.
The story begins on the morning of December 15, 1992. Ax, the computer expert who turned traitor against Sting, Faith, Torque, Flamingo and Kris before (for reference, click here and here), returns home concealing his left arm with his jacket. He tells his companions that he just ran into a bit of trouble and that encountered Bloodshot. When asked about what happened to his arm, Ax just makes an excuse to move away.
Moments later, Ax is inside a large room filled with computers and other high-tech pieces of equipment. The male companion who asked about the arm realizes that Ax’s left arm is gone. Ax then admits he lost his arm and has to build himself a new arm as soon as possible.
Meanwhile inside a top secret facility of the Harbinger foundation, members of the Eggbreakers are training hard and even having fun talking as the action happen…
I will go straight to the point here. The biggest and most surprising aspect of this Harbinger comic book is that much of the narrative focused strongly on the Harbinger foundation and its young adult members which left little spotlight for Sting, Faith, Kris, Flamingo and Shatiqua.
As this is the story of the people from the other side of the spectrum, writer Maurice Fontenot crafted a script that emphasized the Harbinger foundation to be more human than the usual sinister force that was portrayed before. You will not only see the founder and main villain Toyo Harada here but also the members of the Eggbreakers who are composed of young adults not too different from Sting and his companions. Unlike Sting’s team, the Eggbreakers are constantly trained with a high-tech facility and necessities provided by Harada who is simply uncompromising with his way on achieving things. There is also one particular young adult member who looks up to Harada as a great and positive figure who is dedicated on making the whole world a better place.
The good news here is that Fontenot’s writing is rock-solid! The character development is very in-depth, the young adults of the Harbinger foundation act and speak naturally, and strong focus on the Harbinger foundation’s internal matters and developments really gave me a clearer understanding of the organization on top of its reputation in this comic book series. That being said, Howard Simpson’s art here maintained the visual tone of the series while moving along smoothly when visualizing Fontenot’s script.
If there are any weaknesses in this comic book, it is the need to re-read it in order to get yourself oriented with who is who among the Eggbreakers and the other Harbinger foundation people. This is because there are lots of characters here.
Considering all the story build-up and character build-up that was focused mainly on Sting and his teammates, Harbinger #15 (1993) is clearly a major surprise and a major pay-off which ultimately adds to the anticipation of the future conflicts between the two sides. What Fontenot and Simpson presented here was outstanding work and it sure is entertaining as well as refreshing to read. At the same time, this Valiant comic book gave me some X-Men vibes but in a twisted and bastardized manner. As such, this Harbinger issue is very unique.
Overall, Harbinger #15 (1993) is highly recommended!
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