It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for another new edition of Kickin’ It Old School, our weekly column in which we look to the past and review books from the original Valiant universe! This week, I’ll be discussing Harbinger #4.
Published in April 1992
Written by Jim Shooter
Penciled by David Lapham
Inked by John Dixon
Colored by Janet Jackson with Maria Beccari
The kids are still up in space and Flamingo is finally showing the ability to stand up for herself and her friends. After burning Ax’s junk at the end of the last comic, she now has to deal with Rexo on her own. After almost cooking her teammates with her fire powers, she directs it to the floor, melting it and letting Rexo fall to his doom.
They force Ax to make the space ship bring them back to earth. When they get close enough, Peter takes control of the ship, they toss Ax out, then return back to the good Doctor’s house, discovering that it’s almost Christmas and they’ve been gone for five months. Ax uses the knowledge that they stole from the Harbinger foundation to assemble a team of powerful but unbalanced people to exact his revenge on Pete’s group, using the money that they had stolen from Harada to pay them. Meanwhile, Pete’s group all splits up and goes home, but realizes that they can’t return to their old lives after being changed by the events they’ve experienced. They all come back together, except Torque, who is attacked by Ax and his group; Bazooka, Spikeman, and Fort.
Pete and the gang go to find Torque at his old home, arriving to find him being viciously attacked. They jump in to save him, stumbling against the powers of Ax’s group. Once they figure out how to use their powers to their advantage, they are able to turn the tide and take everybody down, sealing the deal with Kris kneeing Ax in the crotch. They all head back to the doctor’s house and celebrate Christmas morning together with Tylenol, Ace Bandages, and Mercurochrome.
The way this issue wrapped up the story on the moon felt like they regretted doing it in the first place. It was abruptly ended and awkwardly segued into Ax making a team of Harbinger rejects to take down Pete’s group. While the moon story did provide the plot points needed for the team to grow together and for Ax to be a sleaze ball out for revenge, it just wasn’t well done. It felt like Shooter wanted to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible and didn’t care what it took to get there. The relationships between the characters also felt like they were written by middle aged men writing what they thought teenagers would like, but coming across completely out of touch with reality. The events that these kids have been through would’ve changed their perspective on their lives pretty quickly, not just leave them longing to be back in school.
The issue was salvaged with the attack on Torque and the ensuing fight between the groups. It got gritty pretty quickly and actually served as a legitimate reason to draw these people together. The ending reverted right back to being extra cheesy, though. I don’t know what to expect from this book at this point. So far, all of the interpersonal stuff is forced and phony. At least the characters are committed to the team now. We’ll see what the future brings.
One last note, Rexo was very poorly written. Between calling Flamingo a slut constantly and delighting in Ax’s burned crotch… it was just bad. Then he tells Flamingo he’s going to cut off her girl-goodies. What the hell were you thinking, Jim Shooter?
Originally from ValiantCentral.com