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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, Peter/Sting, Kris, Faith/Zephyr, Charlene/Flamingo and John/Torque travel to another city where they meet Ax, a computer specialist with Harbinger potential. This gradually sparks a chain events that lead to one wild outcome to another. Indeed, issue #3 was really fun and compelling to read.
With those details laid down, here is a look back at Harbinger #4, published in 1992 by Valiant Comics with a story written by Jim Shooter and drawn by David Lapham.
The story begins inside an alien facility on the moon. With her teammates unconscious and Ax suffering from the intense pain on his genitals, Flamingo finds herself alone facing a freakish cyborg and alien pawns. She only has her power of heat as her weapon and defense. Even though she got hurt, Flamingo manages to heat up a part of the floor near her which causes the freakish cyborg to fall down into an unexpected deep pit.
With not much time left, Flamingo manages to free Sting, Kris, Torque and Faith. Just before leaving for Earth, Sting decides to bring the traitorous Ax with them into the space ship. After some computer work done by Ax, the ship then shifts into auto-pilot mode going to Earth…
The story here is remarkably written, believable and engaging to read. While the events in issues #2 and #3 had their respective wild turn of events, the story here literally grounded itself yet managed to deliver spectacle as well as a new conflict for the readers to focus on. Without spoiling the plot, I can say that Ax, the newcomer in issue #3, has a stronger presence in this comic book and you will get to see more of the impulsive and obsessive sides of his personality which leads to a new conflict (note: Sting and the team face-off with a worthy force of opposition).
The most attractive feature of the writing done by Jim Shooter for this comic book is characterization. Remember how the main characters in The Empire Strikes Back got developed a lot as a result of getting separated? You will some of that here and you will be delighted to see Faith, Kris, Flamingo and Torque return into their private lives which is a creative pay-off in relation to how much time they spent together in the previous issues. Along the way, you will feel their emotions and even relate with the changes they went through. Like a 1980s Hollywood movie about American teenagers, the story sheds light on the aspect of young adults wanting to be with each other as a result of them living with a false sense of maturity or independence. Remember when I mentioned that Peter and his team got away with committing crime in issue #2? Their complete disregard of guilt highlights their failure of taking responsibility of their actions.
If you are looking for superhero spectacle, you will find a good amount of that right here. You should read this comic book and find out why.
Harbinger #4 (1992) is another very solid read from the Shooter-Lapham team. This comic book literally grounded itself into Earth but still delivered a careful mix of plotting, character development and superhero action. At this stage, the team of Sting, Torque, Kris, Flamingo and Faith just keeps on persevering with their shared co-existence even though they have an uncertain future with the Harada organization still hunting them.
Overall, Harbinger #4 (1992) is highly recommended!
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