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Comic Book / Harbinger

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The Renegades, counterclockwise from top-left to right: Zephyr, Torque, Peter, Kris, Flamingo

"What if God could be taught to be a better person?"

Super-powered teenager Peter Stanchek is on a dangerous path. Skipping across the country in a desperate attempt to stay one step ahead of the authorities, Peter quickly realizes that he is a "psiot", possessing the potential to reshape the course of human history. However, Peter’s plight has not gone unnoticed: respected philanthropist and fellow psiot Toyo Harada offers Peter the chance at the things for which the boy has always longed — family, inner peace, self-control — and inducts him into the sprawling, secret network of conspiracy and subversion known as the Harbinger Foundation. His first lesson? All power comes with a price.

Originally a series in the 90s by Valiant Comics, Harbinger received a new rebooted series is 2012, written by Joshua Dysart. It lasted for 25 issues, concluding in 2014. This run included the Harbinger Wars storyline, a crossover with Harbinger and Bloodshot with tie-ins in the monthly titles and its own limited series. The book was followed by the miniseries Harbinger: Omegas, which explored Peter and Harada following their final confrontation, before getting a Stealth Sequel in Imperium (also written by Dysart), which shifted focus to Harada and his more active efforts with the Foundation. In 2016, Peter and the Renegades once again regained the spotlight in Harbinger: Renegade, this time helmed by Rafer Roberts and Darick Robertson, which ran for 9 issues (including a #0 issue). The book dealt with the existence of psiots becoming public knowledge and the team reforming and dealing with the fallout of that. In 2021, there was another Harbinger series featuring an amnesiac Peter titled simply The Harbinger, which was written by Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing and illustrated by Robbi Rodriguez and ran for 8 issues.

It has also received two spin-offs: Faith, a solo series for team member Zephyr, and Generation Zero, about a group of psiots who escaped from Project Rising Spirit.

Unrelated to the 2003 sci-fi RPG, or to the Mass Effect fanfic.

Tropes associated with the relaunched Harbinger include:

  • Acrofatic: Faith is extremely light on her feet, thanks to her flight powers.
  • Ascended Fangirl: Faith/Zephyr was a comic and sci-fi geek before gaining actual superpowers.
  • Animorphism: Monica, one of the children from Project Rising Spirit, can sort of do this (she's actually creating a hard-light image around herself.) Because of her youth and sheltered upbringing, all she knows is cartoon animals. They're still deadly.
  • The Atoner: Peter. Many things weigh heavy on his shoulders, but his manipulation of Kris and Joe's death are what drive him to really go after Harada.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Livewire believes Toyo Harada is insane but has worked for him twice, out of gratitude for helping after she was orphaned.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Zephyr, a major fan of the Trope Namer, rescues the others from heavily armed Project Rising Spirit forces despite her lack of real offensive (or defensive) powers.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Torque, due to his actual body weight being about a third of what it looks like.
  • The Cape: Zephyr. She's the only one of the main five who genuinely thinks of herself as a superhero, with the responsibilities that entails. Occasionally this causes some friction with the others.
  • Charm Person: At their least invasive, Peter's powers are this.
  • Code Name: Played with, as the main characters who use code names had them become they got their superpowers. Zephyr was a screen name, Flamingo was a stage name, and Torque was a fantasy wish-fulfillment character.
  • Creepy Child: Darpan. The fact that he's also a Cheerful Child makes him even creepier. According to Kris, Peter was one of these when he was younger.
  • Cursed with Awesome: A significant amount of psiot powers have major negative effects. Peter's is the most prominent, but there's also Hive (can download other minds into his own; it's progressively driving him crazy), Isiah (has an impenetrable force field around him which he can't turn off; fortunately he apparently doesn't need to breathe, eat, or go to the bathroom) and Baxter (his mind conjures up a vicious killer boogeyman he can't control). It's probably not that much fun to be The Bleeding Monk, either, though it's not clear how the bleeding is related to his powers.
  • Death Seeker: Peter, after Joe's death. He originally comes to Kris to ask her to kill him. After his battle against Harada, he admits that he'd tried to let himself die, but a deeply hidden sense of self-preservation kept him from even that.
  • Dreadlock Warrior: Livewire, when she actually gets into fights.
  • Easily Forgiven: Averted with Kris and Peter's relationship. She's made it clear that she'll never forgive him for what he did, and Peter is probably even less likely to forgive himself.
  • Enlightened Antagonist: The Bleeding Monk is a considerably ageless grandmaster monk whose students were slaughtered by the soldiers of a past Chinese Emperor due to being feared and hated for their mysterious psychic abilities. During the attack, the Bleeding Monk was impaled by a spear and at the moment near his death he gained the ability to see all possibilities and live every moment of his life simultaneously. He eventually became the right-hand man and advisor to Toyo Harada in a bid to make the world a better place by having Harada secretly conquer it.
  • Fatal Flaw: Harada's is his ambition. It's what drives his Well-Intentioned Extremism (see below), initially leads to Peter turning on him and the Harbinger foundation because of said extremism, and later leads to Livewire turning on him in Unity in an utterly ironic case of History Repeats for the exact same set of reasons.
  • Groin Attack: The first thing Flamingo does with her newly activated fire powers is to roast her abusive boyfriend's chestnuts.
  • Inspector Javert: Agent Tull. Due to having his mind repeatedly erased by Peter, there's not much left of him outside of his relentless pursuit. He openly acknowledges that Peter is now his whole life, and that he isn't sure what will become of him when the chase ends. Possibly a subtle intentional allusion, as later in the same scene he's contemplating the stars.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: Kris' justification for robbing banks, though they don't quite get around to the "give to the poor" part. It doesn't help that Flamingo and Torque are perfectly content to do nothing but party and hang out in fancy hotels.
  • Love Potion: Peter impulsively uses his mind control powers to make Kris fall in love with him. Unusually for a protagonist's use of a love spell, the ugly implications, and Kris' subsequent feelings of violation and anger, aren't glossed over.
  • Meaningful Name: Faith tends to trust and see the good in other people; Kris points out in-universe that her name is appropriate.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: Peter spends all day bombarded with an endless stream of inane thoughts. The only way to shut them up is to drug himself.
  • Mind Rape: Peter does this to the the woman responsible for killing Joe, mentally trapping her forever in a padded cell with a copy of him. Oddly, other people who get near her can visit the cell and interact with the copy as well.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Peter's reaction once he realizes the magnitude of what his mind control has done to Kris.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Kris frets over the morality of using Peter's powers to rob banks—not because of any objection to stealing, but because she worries that by manipulating people's minds, she's doing the same thing that was done to her. She concludes that simply making people forget a few minutes of time probably isn't equivalent, but isn't at all sure.
  • Oh, Crap!: Flamingo's reaction to a synaptic grenade rolling up about three inches from her face.
  • Older Than They Look: Toyo Harada was a child during World War II, but uses his powers to appear as a man in his forties.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: A visibly nervous Peter invites Charlene (Flamingo) to his motel room, talking about how he's unsure about "this next part" and hesitantly asking if it's okay to touch her. She thinks they're about to have sex, but he's actually preparing to activate her latent powers.
  • Overdrawn at the Blood Bank: Anyplace downhill or downstairs from the Bleeding Monk is going to be a mess sooner or later.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The Renegades dismantle Harada's company and respectability in the eyes of the public, but at great cost. Charlene dies saving Faith, Peter almost dies in a futile fight against Harada, and Harada himself simply takes the opportunity to change the world using more overt measures. Essentially, although Peter and Kris successfully enact their revenge, the Renegades break up, and Harada shifts to openly taking down all who oppose him, making their victory something of a failure.
  • Rightly Self-Righteous: Zephyr often comes off as this due to being the only non-Anti-Hero in her group. She is prone to chastising others for not being as altruistic as she is and heavily condemns selfish behavior to a Narmtastic degree. It's not enough she wants to do some good, she wants others to want to do some good as well.
  • Shout-Out: The cover of the first issue shows Peter and a large number of thought bubbles, representing him reading surrounding passerby's thoughts. One of these thought bubbles reads "there's always money in the banana stand".
  • Technopath: Livewire.
  • Villain Protagonist: Toyo Harada takes over the lead role in the Omegas arc. He is also getting his own series Imperium.
  • Viva Las Vegas!: During the Harbinger Wars arc.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Toyo Harada. He's genuinely convinced that the world would be better off with him as its absolute dictator, and is willing to do whatever it takes to bring that about.
  • Your Head Asplode: In the first issue of Renegades, Enfuego tries to activate Cassie Del Mundo's powers with a homemade activation table. The device malfunctions, blowing poor Cassie's brains all over the place.