Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.
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 creative team of Fontenot-Simpson told another story that built up Harbinger’s concept some more while introducing yet another new character – Screen – who is not part of the team led by Sting. The story symbolically showed the further growth of the tremendous power of Toyo Harada not only through his control of the Harbinger foundation but also of his connection with the new United States President of the time.
With those details laid down, here is a look back at Harbinger #19, published in 1993 by Valiant Comics with a story written by Maurice Fontenot and illustrated by Howard Simpson.
The story begins on the afternoon of January 25, 1993. Inside the New York facility of the Harbinger foundation, a pretty blonde, young lady named Natalie Toynbee – codename: Stunner – gets scanned by the technicians handling the technologies. A technician’s request for Natalie to urinate into a cup reveals that the lady has a huge ego and pride of herself as she reacts negatively.
Suddenly, the wall near Natalie and the technician got damaged by force unleashed by Sting who is accompanied by Faith, Flamingo and Shatiqua. Their mission is to free Natalie from the clutches of the Harbinger foundation which is a small part of their long-term vision of freeing and recruiting more powered young adults.
After subduing the Harbinger foundation personnel, Sting begins to explain to Natalie the situation and tells her to just trust him. Sting tells her to come with them which only drew more of Natalie’s ego along with skepticism. This reaction makes Faith think Natalie is not worth saving…
While the story was not crafted to follow-up closely on the events of issue #18, this comic book puts Sting and his teammates into a collision course with a new force of evil – the Iranians (note: issue #20 confirms their national identity) who have interests on specific young adults with powers and special abilities. Along the way, the Fontenot-Simpson team introduced a new sinister force in the form of a very manipulative Iranian named Kaliph.
Kaliph’s introduction here is easily the biggest feature of the story and he unsurprisingly overwhelms the debut of Natalie. Kaliph here works in service of his unidentified superiors and as he does his job, he uses his special ability of manipulating people’s minds through sight and sound to gain information, find directions, make them do his orders and gain access into places that he could never have had he been an ordinary person. By the end of the story, I was convinced that Kaliph was created to be an enduring or recurring villain for Sting and his team.
More on the primary characters of this monthly series, Sting and his teammates were portrayed to get more harbingers (powered young adults) to join them and become part of their long-term opposition against Toyo Harada and the Harbinger foundation, even though their own team lacks the resources needed to support themselves. The lack of resources was cleverly highlighted through Natalie’s reactions (related to her big ego) to what Sting’s team has for her to live with. Looking at the bigger picture going back to issue #1, Sting’s vision of defeating Harada and winning the trust of powered young adults without any solid foundation (specifically resources, connections and security) emphasize his recklessness and false sense of maturity as a team leader.
In my view, Harbinger #19 (1993) is a solid change of direction for the monthly series complete with the introduction of a new, strong villain who originated from Iran which by today’s standards is the major force of terrorism in this world. The new villain Kaliph has a creepy aesthetic that other villains in this series lacked. More notably, the story remained consistently very engaging and pulled off some notable surprises which were indeed entertaining.
Overall, Harbinger #19 (1993) is highly recommended!
Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below, share this article to others and also please consider making a donation to support my publishing. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco