The Daily Comic Book Coffee, number 37: Harbinger Files #1, penciled by Dave Cockrum, inked by Gonzalo Mayo, written by Fred Pierce & Bob Layton, lettered by Rob Johnson & Santiago Vázquez, and colored by Mike McGuire, published by Valiant with an August 1994 cover date.

Toyo Harada is one of the major antagonists in the Valiant universe. An incredibly powerful telepath & telekinetic, Harada established the Harbinger Foundation to recruit & train those with similar psionic abilities. Harbinger Files #1 reveals his previously-untold origin, as well as explaining how he survived his encounter with Solar, Man of the Atom.

After his private jet crashes on a desolate mountain, the badly-injured Harada is rescued by hermit Dusty Berman. Recuperating in Berman’s cabin, Harada details his history & motivations. Seeking to convince the skeptical recluse, Harada uses his powers to levitate Dusty’s cup of coffee.

Harada is an interesting figure. A charitable view of him would be that he is a well-intentioned extremist, someone who feels compelled to make difficult choices to save the world from itself. He could be viewed as an embodiment of the expression “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” A much more skeptical analysis of Harada would be that he is engaged in a massive self-deception, that he is in fact an incredibly selfish, avaricious, tyrannical individual who has managed to convince himself that he is working towards noble goals.

Dave Cockrum was one of the preeminent artists of the Bronze Age. He played a major role in the successful revamps of both the Legion of Super-Heroes and the X-Men. Unfortunately by the early 1990s Cockrum, like a number of his contemporaries, was having difficulty finding work, his style regarded by certain editors as “old-fashioned.” I am a huge fan of Cockrum’s art, so I was glad when he got a couple of jobs penciling for Valiant in 1994.

“Redemption and Reward” is a story that mostly consists of Harada and Dusty conversing, with flashbacks to Harada’s early years. You need a penciler who is really strong at storytelling & characterization, which is just what Cockrum was. He does an excellent job with what is mostly a “talking heads” story.

Inking is by Gonzalo Mayo, who worked regularly at Valiant. The Peruvian-born artist has a very lush style to his inks. He worked really well over a number of different pencilers at Valiant, giving the art a very nice illustrative look. I got my copy of this comic autographed by Cockrum a couple of years after it came out, and he told me he liked Mayo’s inking over his pencils.

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The Daily Comic Book Coffee, number 37: Harbinger Files #1, penciled by Dave Cockrum, inked by Gonzalo Mayo, written by Fred Pierce & Bob Layton, lettered by Rob Johnson & Santiago Vázquez, and colored by Mike McGuire, published by Valiant with an August 1994 cover date. Toyo Harada is one...