Unlike most of the new superhero universes from the ’90s, Valiant Comics’ stable of characters didn’t fit neatly into stereotypical archetypes. The one exception is the slightly X-Men-like Harbinger, a group of super-powered teen outcasts. Ever since its introduction, the team has been one of the company’s biggest IPs, which was only bolstered by an incredible reboot courtesy of Valiant Entertainment and Joshua Dysart.
Not only is there a new Harbinger comic book coming out this year, but the planned film may be a second chance at a Valiant Cinematic Universe. Here’s a look back on the team’s history of being hated and feared, its changing membership and where 2020 could take them.
The Harbinger comic book centers around Harbingers, or psiots. This race of psionically empowered superhumans is very much Valiant’s answer to Marvel’s mutants. In fact, in the original 1992 series, the normalcy of many psiots was established to critique how many of the mutants in X-Men titles looked like supermodels as much as superheroes. Unlike mutants, who naturally develop powers around puberty, psiots must typically have their abilities triggered by outside forces.
The Harbinger Organization itself is run by Toyo Harada, a seemingly ageless survivor of World War II bombings who was able to activate his own powers independently. He plans to use his organization to raise an army of psiots and overturn the Earth’s status quo, to rule essentially as gods.
The main Harbinger protagonist, Peter Stanchek, learned of Harada’s insidious plans and — with the help of his friend — scoured the country for more psiots like him to help combat Harbinger. The group eventually went to the media to reveal the existence of psiots, putting Harada’s organization on blast as the entire world learned of the war going on underneath their noses. Eventually, a group of untrained psiots escape from a research facility, igniting the catastrophic Harbinger Wars. This event rocked the Valiant Universe, with Bloodshot and Stanchek’s group trying to defend the kids from Harada’s plans, all while the H.A.R.D. Corps is brought back by Project Rising Spirit to capture the kids for their own intentions.
The “team” itself is officially referred to as the Renegades, though it’s also called the Harbinger Renegades, stemming from its rebelling against Harada’s organization. Beyond Stanchek, other members include Faith Herbert (Zephyr), a nerd who has the psionic ability to fly. There’s also the pyrokinetic Charlene Dupre (Flamingo) and John Torkelson (Torque), whose psionic powers allow him to overcome his physical disabilities and appear robust. Also joining the group in their fight against Harada is Kris Hathaway, a normal human “friend” of Peter’s whom he had formerly used his powers to manipulate.
Outside of the comic book-loving Faith (who is the main one to embrace codenames), the teens notoriously eschew gaudy costumes, standing out even among the more grounded Valiant Universe. They do, however, wear signature blue and grey Harbinger jackets in the reboot. Faith has become the team’s most well-known member, receiving both her own ongoing series in 2016 from Jody Hauser, Pere Perez and Marguerite Sauvage, as well as an upcoming young adult graphic novel from by Julie Murphy.
Valiant also spotlighted the Harbinger Renegades and psiots as a whole in Harbinger Wars 2. After the oppressive treatment of the now very public psiots reaches a genocidal fever pitch, Toyo Harada’s former assistant Livewire declares war on humanity. Using her powers to cause a worldwide blackout, Livewire begins a battle that inevitably involves other Valiant characters such as Ninjak, X-O Manowar and Bloodshot. Meanwhile, Peter and the Renegades bolster their ranks by activating all interested psiots to combat the forces that aim to wipe them out as a race. This had a dramatic effect on Valiant as a whole, especially on the mission of the Renegades.
Not much is known about the upcoming Harbinger monthly ongoing series, with the release date, basic premise and even creative team still unavailable to the public. In terms of where the series could go, the logical idea would be to reunite the old team and see where their lives have gone following Harbinger Wars 2. The Life and Death of Toyo Harada also concluded last year and the new Harbinger series should definitely pick up the pieces from the end of their greatest foe.
The conclusion of the second Harbinger Wars saw Faith and the Renegades dedicating themselves further to finding and training young psiots, who would now likely be hated and feared more than ever. Given her insistence on the team committing themselves to this cause, it’s possible Faith could be given a more central role in the new series. This would especially make sense, given her status as the breakout member of the roster.
Unfortunately, with so little known about where the property is going, fans will have to speculate until the new Harbinger book comes out later this year.
Harbinger is one of Valiant's most popular franchises, with a new comic book and a live action movie in the works for the team. Explore their history.