A Look Back at Harbinger #11 (1992)

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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 finally arrived home after spending many months away during the events of Unity. While so much time had passed for them, very little time on Earth actually moved forward. At this stage, getting back to normal living was inevitable even though they still have a conflict with the Harbinger foundation.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Harbinger #11, published in 1992 by Valiant Comics with a story written and drawn by David Lapham. This comic book marks takes place after the end of Unity.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Faith telling Kris and Sting that she’s about to go to a big job interview. While the two conversed, Faith notices a blimp floating in the sky. To her, it seems that it has floated up there really long.

After being reminded of their planned meeting with Shatiqua, Faith flies off into the city for the job interview at a local business called Comics Jungle. Kris then approaches Flamingo whom she notices to be sounding down. Flamingo states that she has been thinking about the late Torque (father of the baby Kris had) and expresses her concern about the possibility of Shatique joining their team. Flamingo adds that she does not think they will ever get safe…

Quality

Faith and Shatiqua interact.

To begin with, this story marked artist David Lapham’s first time to write a Harbinger tale. Building up on what happened in the late stage of the previous issue, Lapham utilized H.A.R.D. Corps (already one of the established regular titles of Valiant Comics) for the Valiant universe crossover element. The good news here is that Lapham made good use of portraying H.A.R.D. Corps as the focused covert operations team that just so happens to be tracking Sting whom they perceive to be very powerful and too dangerous to be left free in society. This aspect of the story brings up parallels between H.A.R.D. Corps and the sinister Harbinger foundation which instantly blurred the line that separates good and evil.

As I don’t want to spoil the plot, I can confirm that as I read the comic book until the end, I literally felt the vibrations of change happening in the sense that a new direction for the Habinger series was materializing.

When it comes to the characters, Lapham did a good job developing the main characters while also shedding a good amount of the narrative on H.A.R.D. Corps’ members. There is a lot of characters to see but the good thing is that the narrative was not overwhelmed by the exposition and multiple speaking parts.

Conclusion

While Faith goes to the city comic book store for her job interview, Kris, Sting and Flamingo discuss internal matters not knowing they are being targeted.

Harbinger #11 (1992) delivers a fine mix of crossover, spectacle (note: lots to enjoy here) and characterization that also succeeds in telling its own concept while giving readers a hint of what changes could come soon to Sting, Faith, Flamingo and Kris. With Lapham as the new writer, the story is surprisingly very good and engaging to read. You will see a lot of entertaining elements from the previous issues within this comic book with some new intrigue added that made this particular Harbinger tale fresh to read. Lastly, I should say that the addition of H.A.R.D. Corps really added some depth into the story and the spectacle.

Overall, Harbinger #11 (1992) is highly recommended!

+++++

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A Look Back At The H.A.R.D. Corps #1

The 1990s was a decade of excess when it comes to superhero comic books. Apart from the persistent hoarding of comic books and the quest for profit, there were also these wide superhero franchises (or superhero universes) that popped up and even challenged Marvel Comics and DC Comics. Malibu Comics launched the Ultraverse while Valiant Comics came up with its own universe.

Valiant established itself nicely with popular characters like Bloodshot, X-O Manowar, Turok and Ninjak, and each one had its own regular series of comic books published. When it comes to teams, there was H.A.R.D. Corps (H.A.R.D. stood for Harbinger Active Resistance Division).

During the recent Hobby Con held at Las Piñas City, I luckily found myself a copy of The H.A.R.D. Corps #1 and read it for the first time ever. This is my review of the comic book which has a cover drawn by the great Jim Lee.

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Cover with art by Jim Lee.

Early story

The story begins with the 5-member team in the middle of a mission inside the secured facility of the Harbinger Foundation. Under fire from the facility’s armed personnel, the team (riding a floating vehicle) struggle to find their way and evacuate. Along the way, an oversized man called Big Boy grabbed one of their members and separated him from the others. With the situation getting worse, the captured member got “brain popped” (a remote form of self-destruction via the neural flash implanted inside the person’s brain). The remaining four manage to get away by means of aerial transport provided by their company.

Then a section of the facility exploded causing financial damage to Mr. Harada who decided to visit and inspect the site.

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Expository information done cleverly.

Some time later, the H.A.R.D. Corps enjoy the privacy and security at their headquarters in the Nevada desert. Team members Shakespeare, Major Palmer, Softcore, Hammerhead and Superstar wait for instructions at the debriefing room.

Quality

The H.A.R.D. Corps #1 is very well written by David Michelinie. Within twenty-two pages, Michelinie loaded enough details to explain the comic book’s core concept efficiently while at the same time he managed to tell an engaging story with a light touch on character development (note: there were many characters and there was not enough space for further personality emphasis). By the time the story ended, I really felt enlightened, entertained and wanting to find out what would happen next.

Michelinie’s handling of expository dialogue was done very efficiently. I’m talking about the private briefing done by an executive of the Cartel explaining to a recovering man named Kim (who was almost killed during the Los Angeles Riot) what H.A.R.D. Corps is, why the Cartel is in a race against Harada who has been manipulating Harbingers (persons with unique abilities). The Cartel opposes Harada with neural implants.

More on the team, H.A.R.D. Corps members are people who have gone through training programs and each of them had neural implants in their heads which enable them to mimic Harbinger powers (one at a time) through signals broadcast from a base station. Each of them was comatose and the use of the implants reversed the coma.

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Some action for you.

When it comes to visuals, the art by David Lapham (inked by Bob Layton) was pretty good. I like the high amount of detail placed on the surroundings in most of the panels. Action shots had a good amount of impact.

Conclusion

This comic book from late 1992 is a good and engaging read. I really enjoyed it and I like its core concept about a team of enhanced individuals who are technically living properties of very business-minded people opposed to Harada. Even by today’s standards, H.A.R.D. Corps concept really stands out among all superhero team comic books.

The H.A.R.D. Corps #1 is recommended and you can acquire a near-mint copy of it for only $4 at MileHighComics.com (as of this writing).