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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 review, Sting has been suffering and was revealed to have mononucleosis. After having a nightmare, he stubbornly re-entered his family’s home in the middle of the night trying to reconnect to his past life as Pete Stanchek. He eventually learned something harsh about his estranged father and went on to visit him in the hospital.
With those details laid down, here is a look back at Harbinger #22, published in 1993 by Valiant Comics with a story written by Maurice Fontenot and illustrated by Howard Simpson.
The story begins with Archer and Armstrong having fun at the amusement of Coney Island. They eventually bump into Flamingo, Faith, Shatiqua and Kris who happens to be with her uncle named Mel. Armstrong found Mel looking familiar causing the latter to feel uneasy.
Sometime later that day, Mel visits a bar in Brooklyn managed by a local crime boss called Anthony Carino. After going through some initial trouble with Carino’s tough talking employees, Mel finally meets with their boss and told him that decades Armstrong made a move on his fiancé and then he and his buddies ran him out of town. After revealing Armstrong’s name and his presence at Coney Island, the crime boss reacts with knowledge about him. It turns out, Armstrong busted up his bar sometime in the past. Carino agreed to help Mel get back on Armstrong…
To start with, I can say that this comic book’s main feature is the crossover between the team (minus Sting) and the duo of Archer and Armstrong which also serves as a reunion in relation to their time together during the Unity crossover storyline. This time around, these established Valiant Comics characters get to interact with each other during a more peaceful time and if you remember Armstrong delivering Kris’ child (note: Magnus Robot Fighter) during the Unity storyline, there is a nice scene between the two characters talking about it. As with other Valiant works of the 1990s, the crossover element here is strong and engaging.
On the story itself, Armstrong’s past encounter with Mel sparks a conflict here which eventually pulled Archer and the other team members into a wild chase that was somewhat entertaining. How the story ended was surprising and even intriguing. If you are looking for character development regarding Faith, Flamingo, Kris and Shatiqua, you won’t find much here which is a bummer. Again, the mentioned crossover is the key feature of this comic book.
While it shifted the focus away from the unlikable Sting, Harbinger #22 (1993) was more about a shared universe crossover between the other team members and Archer and Armstrong. In some ways, Armstrong himself was almost the main character in this tale and what he did in the past sparked a chain of unfortunate events that involved Kris, Faith, Flamingo and Shatiqua. As this comic book was more about crossover, it turned out to be a missed opportunity for the creative team to further develop the other team members. Still, this tale delivered some entertainment value and there definitely is something being built up for further issues.
Overall, Harbinger #22 (1993) is satisfactory.
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