A Look Back at Harbinger #19 (1993)

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 cover.

Early story

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…

Quality

Imagine Iran invading America and causing terror like in this scene. Imagine Joe Biden and the Democrats allowing this to happen to Americans.

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.

Conclusion

Kaliph and his companion arrive in America with a sinister plan.

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

A Look Back at Harbinger #17 (1993)

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, 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 cover.

Early story

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…

Quality

Even though he is already in a relationship with Kris, Sting focused on the blonde lady in the middle of a party.

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.

Conclusion

Something’s wrong with Sting.

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!

+++++

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

A Look Back at Sludge #11 (1994)

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 fans, 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the Ultraverse of Malibu Comics and examine one of its many stories told through an issue of the Sludge comic book series.

In my previous retro review, a more character-driven story about Sludge was told as the city crime war story has ended. What made issue #10’s story standout was the unexpected physical change Sludge goes through which is something he had desired apart from wanting death. Ironically, this made him more vulnerable to physical attacks. Needing help on something, he reaches out to the New York Daily Globe’s reporter Shelley Rogers.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Sludge #11, published by Malibu Comics in 1994 with a story written by Steve Gerber and drawn by Robb Phipps.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Sludge about to engage in a physical battle with the Bash Brothers just outside the Lalama Clinic. Shelley Rogers is just standing nearby. The Bash Brothers proved to be troublesome for Sludge until Shelley explains to one of them that their mother was not harmed. The said mother comes out and after an exchange of talk between them all, they realize Sludge needs the help of Dr. Ferdinand Lalama who was involved with the Caldwell Pharmaceuticals which itself was responsible for the stuff that affected Sludge in the first place.

Shelley then notices that Sludge is reverting back to his previous gooey state. At the same time, Dr. Lalama made no communication for almost a week…

Quality

Something wild is about to happen.

As a story that started with Sludge needing to find a specialist to help treat him, this one went wild with the fantasy concepts. Without spoiling the plot, this wild ride has strong science fiction elements such as energy streaming and traveling to another dimension through a portal. The sci-fi elements are indeed a factor that made this tale of the search of Dr. Lalama a really intriguing read.

With regards to the titular hero, this story encourages researching details of his origin (how he went from human into a chemical being) as well as reading issue #1. Sludge himself is more vulnerable than before and the unpredictable changes with him added suspense to the narrative. This story also contains themes of scientific experimentation and molecular manipulation which were nicely planted into the story’s sci-fi aspect. That being said, I can say that what was explained near the end of the comic book was both intriguing and worth reading.

Conclusion

A really interesting discussion here.

Sludge #11 (1994) is indeed a really intriguing and entertaining read. Without spoiling anything, I can say that it cleverly answered questions about how Sludge came to be, what Zuke and a regeneration formula did to his state and what forces behind the pharmaceutical company took place that affected the titular character. This is really fitting as this comic book was the 2nd-to-the-last issue ever published. That being said, I can say that I am looking forward to what will be told in issue #12.

Overall, Sludge #11 (1994) 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

A Look Back at Harbinger #16 (1993)

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 team of Sting, Faith, Flamingo, Kris and Shatiqua only had a minority of the spotlight as the plot was strongly focused on the Harbinger foundation and its team of powered young adults called the Eggbreakers who are trained and funded to do the dirty works of their founder Toyo Harada. The comic book was clearly building up the tension for future conflicts between the Harbinger foundation and Sting’s team, as well as solidifying the comic book series’ own place in the shared universe of Valiant Comics at the time.   

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Harbinger #16, published in 1993 by Valiant Comics with a story written by Maurice Fontenot and illustrated by Howard Simpson.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins on the evening of December 15, 1992. Sting, Flamingo and Shatiqua are inside the elevator and they have just been greeted by the traitorous Ax, two companions and a little black boy. As soon as he expresses his desire to squash Harada, Ax tells Roxy to strike Sting’s group with her bionic arm. Roxy misses and Sting uses his power to push her out with force which causes her male companion to fire his gun inside the elevator.

Sting uses his power to push away mechanical parts over their hands and then lifted himself, Flamingo and Shatiqua up the elevator shaft. Flamingo then uses her power to heat up cables to boost her group’s chance of escape. Shortly after coming out of the top of the building, the three flew and landed on the top of the next building. Sting then falls exhausted. Back inside, Ax and his team continue their pursuit of Sting, Flamingo and Shatiqua.

Elsewhere, Faith and Kris talk about the prospect of attending a Christmas party. Kris suddenly notices man in a trench coat standing outside of their home…

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The Eggbreakers and an armed man who was once an Eggbreaker.

To be clear to all those reading this, especially fans of this comic book series, Sting and his teammates once again only got a minority of the spotlight as the story was written to show of the Eggbreakers as well as the other individuals who are not in league with Toyo Harada and his foundation. While the lack of focus on the main characters could be disappointing to the dedicated fans, this comic book’s script is still of very good quality.

That being said, there is some richness to the way Fontenot crafted the story with the goal of emphasizing the Harbinger foundation’s Eggbreakers and armed personnel plus Ax who opposes Harada as well as Sting and his teammates. Ultimately, the plot established that while the Harbinger foundation is the biggest and clearest danger within its own spot of Valiant’s shared universe, there are still powered young adults other than Sting’s team who oppose the said organization. This also shows that even though it has tons of financial resources, technologies and a lot personnel under the very powerful Harada, the Harbinger foundation still has a long way to go before it convinces all powered young adults to join its cause of world domination. In fact, the foundation has not done a good job trying convince the powered individuals to give up their respective lives and private affairs for the sake being part of the organization that is so capable of providing their needs and freeing them from society’s constraints.

The Eggbreakers, like in the previous issue, got developed further here. I noticed that the comic book creators have been building up Eggbreakers member Spikeman for something and he has some sort of personal connection with Ax. The mysteries about Spikeman added some suspense to the narrative.

Compared to the previous issue, the action and superhero spectacle has been ramped up here. You will see action scenes that would look good in an R-rated movie and there is also a rather gory scene that was surprising to see.

Conclusion

Faith and Kris were at home while Sting, Flamingo and Shatiqua were in the more urbanized part of the city.

Harbinger #16 (1993) is another really solid story of this comic book series. The creative team just kept on building up the people who serve Harada as well as the others who oppose him which unsurprisingly left Sting and his teammates with not a lot of spotlight. Clearly the team of Fontenot and Simpson were building up something for future stories and even managed to do some pay-off to certain elements that were built up in the previous issues. Ultimately, this comic book is a very intriguing and fun read!  

Overall, Harbinger #16 (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

A Look Back at Harbinger #15 (1993)

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 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 cover.

Early story

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…

Quality

Nothing like a youth member getting the rare opportunity to meet the big boss right after the end of a big meeting.

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.

Conclusion

The Eggbreakers in training.

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!

+++++

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

A Look Back at The Solution #16 (1995)

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 fans, 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts, Ultraverse fans and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the Ultraverse through the monthly series of The Solution.

In my previous retro review, The Solution took a major risk by going all the way to a secret place in Taiwan. Their purpose was to infiltrate the place and find out any details they could find from a planned secret meeting between heads of multiple gangs. For Tech/Lela Cho, she sees an opportunity to get her company back from the Dragon Fang gang. Dropkick expresses his concern that the whole meeting could be a trap as the Dragon Fang gang knows that Tech can hack their computers and extract information.

With those details laid down, here is a look back The Solution #16, published by Malibu Comics in 1995 with a story written by the late James Hudnall and drawn by Daerick Gross.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with The Solution members apart from each other and each one has been trapped by deadly enemies. Outbreak is being fired upon by armed personnel. Shadowmage is down on the floor having been shot by one of the assassins. Dropkick finds himself attacked by another assassin. Tech is out cold and the deadly assassin Casino has her cornered.

Instead of going for the kill, Casino just talks to Tech and then calls Kwan Lun. In another part of the facility, the Communist Incoming aims his gun at the head of Shadowmage who suddenly moves and avoids the shot fired. As she finds a place to hide, she casts a spell to heal herself…

Quality

Dropkick on the losing end of the fight.

If you want action with The Solution, this comic book has lots of it as it is the continuation of the conflict between the titular team and the evil forces. Quite consistently, the creative team made each team member look vulnerable, especially with Tech who is helpless even though Casino (note: their previous encounter was in issue #7) is ironically not even fighting. While Outrage and Dropkick are on the verge of being eliminated, Shadowmage was also portrayed to be vulnerable in a gritty manner. Adding further depth to the engagement of the story is suspense.

Visually, artist Daerick Gross did a good job and judging from the way the action and sequencing were done, he seems to have researched the previous issues. His artistic takes on The Solution team members plus Casino and the assassins are nice to look at as well as recognizable.

Conclusion

Even though she was down, Shadowmage managed to avoid certain death giving her a chance to survive and take on the armed Commie.

The Solution #16 (1995) is entertaining enough for me and it also succeeded in keeping me interested for the next issue which also happens to be the final issue. As this is the 2nd-to-the-last issue of The Solution series, James Hudnall knew what defined the characters and what kind of stories would keep the fans engaged. That being said, he seemed to have set something up for the next issue as this comic book ended in a cliffhanger.

Overall, The Solution #16 (1995) is recommended.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. If you want to support my website, please consider making a donation. 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 athttps://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/.

A Look Back at Harbinger #14 (1993)

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, Faith encountered an old man who turned out to be highly unusual and this led to her dealing with street troublemakers. More notably, the comic book developed Faith’s personality further and she is definitely more than just the geek among her teammates.   

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Harbinger #14, published in 1993 by Valiant Comics with a story written by Maurice Fontenot and illustrated by Howard Simpson.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins during one of the past events in the Unity storyline as the young Geomancer tells Kris to give to him her baby as something crucial was about to happen in just a few minutes. Kris, who already knows that her infant is actually Magnus the robot fighter, unsurprisingly resists. Suddenly, energy and light formed between the two and Kris’ baby suddenly disappears which prompts the Geomancer to state that Solar is sending everyone – including the baby – to a proper place in time.

In the present day of October 9, 1992, Faith helps a kid by retrieving his kite from a tall tree not realizing that she just exposed herself as they are within a public park. Sting warns her that her act was risky as there could by anybody watching them from a distance.

A few feet away from Sting, Faith, Flamingo and Shatiqua is Kris who watches a group of children playing…

Quality

Even though most of them have special abilities, they are still vulnerable with the costs of independent living as well as being targets of the Harbinger foundation.

The story here is a complete change of direction compared to issue #13. For one thing, it takes a look back at key events that took place during the Unity crossover storyline which specifically involved Sting and his teammates. The flashbacks were done through Kris’ memory and she provides the narration (conveniently for us readers) as she shares her personal views about what happened.

More notably, the flashback and narrations reflect how much of an impact the loss of the baby truly was for Kris who even expressed that the infant – destined to be Magnus the robot fighter as an adult – must have hated her for letting him go.

Unity aside, this comic book also follows the private lives of Sting, Kris, Flamingo, Faith and Shatiqua as they now live together in a rented home. While almost all of them have special abilities, they are still vulnerable with not just the threat of the Harbinger foundation but also the with the costs and constant challenges of living independently from their respective families. It’s nice that as this was Maurice Fontenot’s debut as writer of this particular monthly series, the general tone was maintained and the story was told with realism in mind. I also like the way Fontenot dramatized the characters particularly with Sting still living with a false sense of maturity at a time when his love Kris is struggling over the visions about the past and her lost child.

This comic book also marked the series debut of Howard Simpson whose art style resembles that of David Lapham.

Conclusion

A quick look back at Unity.

Harbinger #14 (1993) has a solid touch on developing the lead characters – specifically Kris – and went as far as recalling some of the events of Unity while even having a few pages featuring one of Valiant Comics’ major characters which you can easily guess who. To put it short, this comic book ultimately served as a build-up for further confrontations with the Harbinger foundation but the characterization of Kris here is the real meat of the story. By the time you reach the end, you should be able to know Kris more. Definitely a solid read!

Overall, Harbinger #14 (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

A Look Back at Harbinger #13 (1993)

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, Sting, Faith, Kris, Flamingo and newcomer Shatiqua pursued a mission recklessly with revenge over the death of Torque as the main motivator. That story symbolically shows that the boundary between good and evil has been blurred away as Sting and his team just kept on pursuing their goals disregarding the rule of law and committing acts that make them no different from the sinister Harbinger Foundation. In some ways, Sting himself is gradually becoming as evil and abusive as his target (and former mentor) – Toyo Harada.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Harbinger #13, published in 1993 by Valiant Comics with a story written and drawn by David Lapham.

The cover that closely imitates the iconic image of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns.

Early story

The story begins with Faith flying high above the streets of New York City talking to herself as she enjoys the flight as well as the flight of fantasy in her mind. After discreetly landing in an alley, she bumps into a man as she moves into the city sidewalk. Two other men could not help but laugh at what they just saw.

The man Faith bumped into gets mad, grabs her by the shirt and pulls out a knife. Suddenly, an old man comes out of nowhere and threatens the knife-wielding man which in turn prevented Faith from getting hurt. Upon realizing a lot of people are around them and watching, the knife-wielding man and his two companions move away.

The old man then befriends Faith. She thanks him for his help…

Quality

Faith and the old man.

As I expected another Harbinger tale about Sting and his team going up against Harada’s foundation, I can say that this comic book surprised me in a rather delightful way. To be clear, this is a story mainly focused on Faith and under Lapham’s direction, readers will see her personality emphasized more than ever and what she is capable of with not just her special abilities but also with how she deals with problems.

The good news here is that the writing by Lapham is solid. Faith is clearly the comic book geek among her teammates and to see her work inside a comic book store in the city is amusing as her portrayal captures how comic book fans react when they see something really fascinating or special among the many printed materials displayed. It should be noted that Faith’s independence is nicely portrayed and she has her own way of dealing with the harshness of reality without ever letting her personal obsession with entertainment overwhelm her reasoning. The ironic thing about Faith’s view of life around her is that she does not show any regrets about the crimes the she and her teammates committed.

Those who are looking for superhero spectacle will find something gritty and short with regards to Faith. Adding further zest in this comic book are fantasized excerpts from a particular comic book Faith reads in the story.

Conclusion

Faith working inside the comic book store.

Harbinger #13 (1993) is a very surprising read that clearly delivered a good bout of fun. Its main attraction is Faith herself and this comic book has the most in-depth development of her character to date. Through her, comic book readers will have something to resonate with when it comes to comic book culture and geek interests. Ultimately, David Lapham succeeded in defining Faith and telling a solid Harbinger tale mainly focused on her. In some ways, this comic book is like a relief from all the tension built up on the rivalry between Sting’s team and the Harbinger Foundation. That being said, this comic book is no filler and it fits right in the monthly series.

Overall, Harbinger #13 (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

A Look Back at The Solution #15 (1995)

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 fans, 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts, Ultraverse fans and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the Ultraverse through the monthly series of The Solution.

In my previous retro review, The Solution itself was not really present in the story which was both a shock and a major disappointment. The Solution #14 (1994) refocused mainly on past villains who debuted in the early part of the monthly series and it sent a clear sign that a rematch with The Solution is bound to happen.

With those details laid down, here is a look back The Solution #15, published by Malibu Comics in 1995 with a story written by the late James Hudnall and drawn by George Dove.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Dropkick inside a dark room. Tech comes in searching for him and turns the light on. She is surprised to see Dropkick with a new look complete with face paint. Dropkick insists that his new look will last and he saw the future. The man then surprises Tech once more by instantly changing into casual clothes. She then reveals to him that she found a way to get her company back.

Moments later in a meeting with Dropkick, Outrage and Shadowmage, she reveals that while searching online for information about what the Dragon Fang gang has been doing with her company, she found a memo about a meeting that was set to happen the next week somewhere in Taiwan. The heads of the gang are supposed to be there and for Tech, this is the opportunity to take them on.

As the exact location of the meeting remains unclear, Tech states that they will need to travel overseas as she needs to be near a place to check out the electronic systems. For Dropkick, the whole meeting could be a trap and he states that the Dragon Fang gang knows Tech can read their computers.

Even though she is certain that the trap is real, Tech states that they cannot pass up the opportunity to take on the enemy…

Quality

Can you recognize anyone on this page?

Now this is more like it! The Solution is indeed back and this story is pretty much a big pay-off to all the build-up done in the villains-focused story of the previous issue. Take note that this story took place just a short time after the very wild storyline told in issues #9, #10, #11 and #12.

To make things clear, there is a conflict in the story which should resonate with The Solution fans who read the early issues of the series that launched in 1993. There is indeed a rematch between the titular team and the villains (plus Casino in this issue) which fortunately was very well done and proved to be worth the wait and the build-up. Speaking of conflict, there was this surprising development that happened within the side of the villains and that alone added more depth to the plot as well as more tension to the rematch with Tech and her teammates.

Artist Greg Dove did a fine job drawing this story and he knows when to use dynamic visuals when it comes to emphasizing impact. Thanks to Dove, Casino in this issue has that femme fatale look on her face. His take on Tech, her teammates and the three other villains is also good to look at.

Conclusion

The Solution with Dropkick in his new look.

The Solution #15 (1995) marks the series’ return to normalcy (meaning fun, intrigue and engagement) and it is indeed a worthy pay-off to the disappointing previous issue. The conflict told within this particular comic book is just the start and as I reached the ending, I can say that I am anticipating what would happen next. There is a lot for fans of The Solution to enjoy here.

Overall, The Solution #15 (1995) is recommended.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. If you want to support my website, please consider making a donation. 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 athttps://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/.

A Look Back at Harbinger #12 (1992)

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, Sting, Faith, Kris and Flamingo adjusted themselves to normal living. As far as they are concerned, several months had passed for them during their time in the unknown world during the events of Unity. For their real world, however, very little time had passed. They also took a renewed effort to search for powered beings like themselves as part of their plan to protect themselves and be able to take down the Harbinger foundation in due time.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Harbinger #12, published in 1992 by Valiant Comics with a story written and drawn by David Lapham.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins during the wee hours of September 4, 1992 inside the rented house occupied by Sting, Flamingo, Kris and Faith. Flamingo wakes up from another nightmare causing her to unintentionally burn part of her bed. Her teammates rush in to comfort her and it turns out Flamingo just had her third nightmare of the week which reflects her sadness over the death of their late teammate Torque. In response to this, Sting takes Faith with him to fly out and do some information gathering at the Harbinger office in New York.

It turns out Sting had been covertly breaking in to the said office in recent times primarily to get information about the latest moves of the one organization that wants them defeated. After sneaking into the New York office of Harbinger, Sting uses his power on a Harbinger employee named Joan to get codes from her to get into the organization’s computer network…

Quality

Clearly Sting and his teammates are becoming as bad as their counterparts at the Harbinger foundation. Sting looks like he is destined to become sinister and unstoppable as his target Toyo Harada.

Considering how I felt after reading issue #11, this comic book series indeed took a turn to a new creative direction under David Lapham’s writing (note: this is the 2nd Harbinger story Lapham wrote). Not only did Sting and his teammates gain a new member with Shatiqua, they daringly pursued another dangerous mission that could be described as reckless and even idiotic. Even though they knew that the Harbinger foundation was strongly powerful and had many powered young adults as opposition, revenge over the death of Torque motivated them to take on their enemies head-on one member at a time.

David Lapham successfully portrayed Sting and his team to be as ruthless as Harbinger which strongly symbolizes the blurring of the boundary between good and evil. With regards to Sting, I saw a powerful teenager who could someday grow to be an evil leader similar to his rival and main target Toyo Harada. The mere fact that revenge was the objective for the team shows how dark Sting has turned even though he believes that he and his teammates are victims trying to survive and be free from the present danger of the Harbinger foundation.

Along the way, this comic book shows Flamingo at her most emotional state as she still clings on to the ate Torque. Her portrayal in this comic book is quite believable as it reflects the difficulties that teenagers in real life experience when it comes to letting go of the past and struggle to move forward as they carry bitterness and pain with them.

If you are looking for superhero spectacle, there is a lot to enjoy here. I won’t say how it is presented because that is something you yourselves should read and discover.

Conclusion

Breaking in and hacking into a private company’s network are crimes that Sting and Faith are comfortable with.

Harbinger #12 (1992) is a very solid read! What Jim Shooter established for this series with the first ten issues, David Lapham carefully moved the narrative forward to a new direction while still maintaining the elements that defined the main characters, why they exist and what they are fighting for.  At this stage in the Harbinger series, Sting, Faith, Flamingo and Kris (plus new member Shatiqua) continue to operate as a team while disregarding the laws and morality because they truly believe that they are victims and moving targets of Harada and the Harbinger foundation. This comic book also has an excellent mix of storytelling, characterization and superhero action while still feeling like it is all grounded with reality (note: the X-Men comics published the same year as this had more fantasy elements). Right now, I’m happy with the way Lapham is handling the story and I’m looking forward to the next issue.

Overall, Harbinger #12 (1992) 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