The Weekly Pull (1/23/13) – HARBINGER #8


Last on this week’s plate is HARBINGER #8, where the party gets just a little bigger. Or maybe much bigger, depending on whether you judge by number or individual size.

Peter Stanchek’s group of misfit psiots is growing by the issue. Peter himself acts as the de facto leader/big gun, but as powerful as he is he can only do so much at once (though he can do so much in total). Kris Hathaway acts as the party’s tactician, as well being the voice of reason in a group populated by psychics. And Faith Herbert acts as aerial recon, as well as being the heart of the group. Thus rounds the core of the renegades.

Last issue they picked up Flamingo, a seductress and the resident pyro. Now all they need is a little more muscle. Enter a paralyzed kid.

It’s better than it sounds, trust me.

Enter John Torkelson, a backwoods boy with weak or non-functioning legs, and dreams of manly adventures. It’s not made clear whether he’s actually paralyzed or if his legs are just too puny to carry him, but suffice to say he’s not the best physical specimen in the world. But this is Harbinger, where the fattest member of the group can fly like a graceful, corpulent swan. And the aptly named Torque has exactly the right ironic power to make him a viable member of the group.

I like how the book doesn’t shy away from presenting its protagonists as inherently flawed. Torque is a poor young man who retreated into his own world. So much so that when he does gain true power, he forgets that not every situation will go his way with the right application of two-fisted violence. Meanwhile, the villain of the book, Toyo Harada could almost be considered a good guy, if he weren’t intent on taking over the world and breaking everyone that gets in his way.

Heck, the two alpha level psionics present two opposing approaches to recruitment. Both could choose any of the potential psiots to join their group, yet choose the opposite individuals. Harada only picks the potentials with the most stability and promise; the ones most likely to jump straight into his cold, regimented league and follow orders. Unfortunately, this didn’t work very well when he had to recruit Peter, because had Peter not been an already activated psychic with potential to rival Harada’s own, he would never have made the cut given Harada’s methods. The book actually comments on the fact that Harada’s inflexible methods for assimilating Peter were the cause for the latter’s rejection. It could have gone better had more care been put into acclimating the former asylum resident and walking holocaust to ordered training.

Peter, on the other hand, purposefully seeks the ones Harada would never consider: the losers. The ones with no direction in life, no prospects, and little ability to fit into the Harbinger Foundation. Which is weird, because these are the ones who are most in need of the kind of emotional and social care that an overarching purpose would bring. The power of friendship, if I may wax cheesy, does great good to people, by forcing them to confront their shortcomings and move beyond them. Flamingo and Torque needed to be part of a larger group more than any of the people put in Harada’s ranks, yet were left to rot.

Of course, even with the more competent Kris at his back, Peter’s group has an obvious organizational flaw. While it’s the one that will better nurture these disaffected and flawed individuals, it’s also poorly organized from the start. These guys are building their forces as they go along, and working out a team slapdash style. This will inevitably come back to haunt them.

Assuming Project Rising Spirit doesn’t destroy them all first.

Oh, and I like how Faith almost name dropped the publisher. That’s cute.

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