Somebody’s First Comic Book: Harbinger #18
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TITLE: Friends and Enemies
Writer: Maurice Fontenot
Pencils: Howard Simpson
Inks: Gonzalo Mayo
Colors: Maria Beccari & Eric Lusk
Letters: Joe Albelo
Editor: Mark Moretti
Cover Art: Howard Simpson & Maria Beccari
Publisher: Valiant Comics
PRIOR KNOWLEDGE: I’ve never heard of this one. From the cover, it seems we’re meeting “Screen” this issue, who I assume is a supervillain with the power to prevent insects from getting into the house.
IMPRESSIONS: A few girls in an arcade run into a kid they know who turns out to have superpowers. They chase after him, and it turns out they’ve got superpowers too. Then they meet “Screen,” who evidently can project some sort of force-field, they all call themselves “Harbingers,” and they go home to talk about having superpowers and watch the Clinton inauguration.
To say this book was perplexing is being kind. There’s this whole subplot with another kid who lives with them going to see the doctor and something else with this old man, Harada, who seems to be the big villain of the piece, but it’s never made exactly clear what makes him the bad guy or why these heroes seem to be in hiding. Screen himself apparently isn’t the villain he appears to be from the cover, and the fight scene inside is really brief and definitely not what we were led to expect. Even the artwork is a bit misleading – after fighting them, Screen shouts out, “They’re just kids!” From the art, though, I thought he was about the same age as the rest of them. The only reason the teleporting kid from the arcade, Scout, is clearly portrayed as younger is because he’s about half as tall as everybody else.
This definitely feels like a book that suffers from unfamiliarity. I couldn’t tell who anyone was or why they were doing anything, although I suppose seeing your arch-enemy at a presidential inauguration would be kind of surprising, when you get right down to it.