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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, Kris and Shatiqua got into trouble upon seeing the traitorous Ax and his powered companions. Their encounter turned into a radically different turn of events when the Harbinger foundation’s armed personnel and Eggbreakers members arrived targeting Ax.
With those details laid down, here is a look back at Harbinger #17, published in 1993 by Valiant Comics with a story written by Maurice Fontenot and illustrated by Howard Simpson.
The story begins in the past – January 11, 1991 at the Woodville State Mental Institution in Pennsylvania. One of the local doctors leads two formal visitors into the secured room of one of their patients described as a “fascinating subject”. His name is Simon and the visitors turned out to be from the Harbinger foundation. They tell Simon, who is invisible, that the Harbinger foundation was established to help special people like him, help him understand and control his talents, and he will not be alone as the foundation has others like him.
In the present day of December 23, 1992, Faith is flying just above a truck which is slipping out of control along a major bridge in New Jersey. Sting is barely holding on the top of the truck. Being unable to utilize his power to control the situation, Sting instructs Faith to pull the driver out of the truck. Moments after Faith saves the truck driver, the truck itself stops but ended up hitting a vehicle.
As Flamingo uses her power to put out a fire, Kris finds Sting on the side of a car feeling terrible. Sting wonders what is wrong with him as he failed to stop the truck…
I want to point out that this is yet another build-up type of story from Fontenot and Simpson, only this time it introduces Simon who is involved with the Harbinger foundation not as a trained Eggbreakers member but rather as a patient still relying on medical and psychological care. Through Simon, you will feel his loneliness, his trouble to fit in with society and his personal pain related to being unwanted. Through him, you will also realize that even though it has lots of resources and experts as employees, the Harbinger foundation is not the ideal replacement for Simon’s father (who rejected him in the first place). That should also remind you readers that government units also can never be your parent nor your guiding light no matter what socialists and Commies say in this age of Joe Biden and the fascist Democrats (read: the Satanic Left). Fontenot’s script here is, unsurprisingly, really strong and Simon’s introduction never felt like a throwaway piece.
Apart from Simon, Sting and his teammates got a lot more of the narrative’s spotlight this time around which is like a breath of fresh air since the previous two issues focused more on Harbinger and the Eggbreakers. Even though they are already dealing with their domestic problems, the primary characters still make efforts to solve problems and help others knowing that they would not be compensated by society.
More on character development, the team leader Sting continues to desire recruiting and helping powered young adults before the organization of Toyo Harada gets them first. This shows his arrogance and delusion as he rejects the reality that he and his team don’t really have the massive resources the Harbinger foundation has when it comes to recruitment and providing the constant needs of recruits. Furthermore, Sting does not even see his current problem (with his super power) as a hindrance at all when facing the Harbinger foundation.
Storywise, this comic book is more balanced with the spotlight on characters on the two sides of the spectrum with Simon being symbolically caught in the middle of the conflict. This is really solid storytelling.
I like Harbinger #17 (1993) very much. What it lacks in spectacle, it bounces back big time with character development, deep dramatics and introducing a new character who gets connected with both Sting’s team and the Harbinger foundation. This story obviously keep on building up something for a future conflict between the two forces and already I am eager to find out what will happen in the next issue.
Overall, Harbinger #17 (1993) is highly recommended!
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