Comics / Spotlight / Progressive Panels

Harbinger: The New Beginning

By Andy Frisk
March 6, 2012 - 20:17

Back in 2006, former Bin writer Andy Smith counted down the Top 10 comic books of the 1990s and Harbinger #1 (1992) topped the list. He gave several excellent reasons why his assertion was true, and to this day they still hold their original weight. Harbinger #1 really was the harbinger of a new era in comics. It told the story of a group of super powered kids trying to find their way in the word while battling to topple a powerful psionic business man named Toyo Harada, who was bent on world domination. You say it sounds like a knock off X-Men, eh? Nothing could be further from the truth. The most powerful harbinger (what these new super powered beings were called) was the villain, and his only match was an insecure, and at times all too fallible and human teenager (for a superhero and potential savior of the world) . Toyo Harada was a ruthless Prof. Xavier, training harbingers whose powers he “activated” (kinda like Hope Summers does…hmmm, interesting) to carry out his master plan. Harada was a dirty businessman (he used his psionic powers to amass a fortune), a self-appointed savior of the world, and worst of all, at times, ethically right in his motivations. He was a morally ambiguous character at times, but his main nemesis, Pete Stancheck, himself engaged in questionable activities. Harbinger was the forerunner of the moral ambiguities that now reign in titles like X-Men and the realism (sans the comedy) that appeals to so many in titles like Kick-Ass.


Harbinger and the whole Valiant Comics revolution also predated the formation of the Vertigo imprint over at DC Comics by a whole year. Both Valiant and Vertigo defined, by reflecting, the reading tastes of a whole generation of comic book readers much like the “New Rock Revolution” or “The Year of Grunge” did for the musical tastes of the same generation. If Vertigo was the Pearl Jam of comics, Valiant was the Nirvana. Now, that generation is all grown up and has a small amount of expendable income to invest in the new Harbinger comic book that launches in June. History repeats itself, as do things like “new rock revolutions” (well maybe not that one anymore), and the time is ripe for a comic book to be published that will define the 2010s much like one with the same name did the 1990s. I really believe that Harbinger from Valiant Entertainment will be that book.


So, no pressure there Mr. Dysart! Seriously though, Joshua Dysart, the comics scribe who is bringing Harbinger back into the spotlight is truly the perfect man for the job. Dysart wrote one of the most important comic books of the last five years during his stint on Vertigo’s re-imagined Unknown Soldier. It was a series that was packed with powerful storytelling and a seriousness of tone and urgency that championed human rights. It brought attention to one of the worst human rights atrocities in the world. Dysart also has a very strong sense of social, ecological, and economic justice as evidenced by his other works, like the highly under rated and powerful Neil Young’s Greendale, a graphic novel that brought Neil Young’s protest album to life and expanded upon the story it told. Yes, Joshua Dysart is the perfect writer to bring Harbinger back to life.

Dysart’s being the perfect writer to bring back Harbinger though doesn’t rest solely with his ability and focus. Harbinger is a project that meets him at least halfway on its own merits. Thematically, Harbinger dealt with many of the topics that currently dominate the social discourse of America. There were cultural battleground storylines that developed around Kris’ pregnancy, Flamingo’s overt sexuality, Pete’s psionic manipulation of Kris, Torque’s working class roots, and Harada’s manipulative business practices. (If you don't know what I'm talking about here you have GOT to read the collected edition of Harbinger books called Harbinger The Beginning) These are all subjects that made Harbinger so realistic and relevant to its time, and ideas that Dysart can either explore or expound upon in his interpretation of Harbinger. In short, Harbinger really could be the X-Men of the 21st Century. Much like X-Men defined and reflected the progressive ideas of its 1960s readers, Harbinger can address and, in turn, end up defining and reflecting the progressive ideas and battles of the 2010s readers.


So, once again, no pressure Mr. Dysart! Also once again, and very seriously though, I really feel that Joshua Dysart can deliver. The first Harbinger comic book was an incredibly important one culturally, as well as in the world of its medium. The new Harbinger has the potential to end up being this as well. Let the new Valiant age of comics begin, and long live Harbinger and its new beginning.   

Like music? So does Andy. Read his thoughts on it

Last Updated: January 24, 2022 - 11:00

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