Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
We’ve reached the end of Acronym Week. Trust me– you’ll never see this one coming. I mean it.
20. FACADE (Full Acclimation Combat And Defense Explo-skeleton)!
Mwahahahahahahahahahahahah! Oh, yes, I’m kidding. FACADE, while incredibly lame and, therefore, a Bill favorite, is not the subject of today’s entry. I wouldn’t inflict that kind of punishment on my readership.
So, alright, alright, here’s the real #20…
20. H.A.R.D. Corps (No, really.)
HARD Corps was a series from Valiant Comics. Now, I’ll be the first one to admit that Valiant wasn’t really that good, but it did but out some books that were kinda fun. I think HARD Corps was one of ‘em. The series lasted thirty issues and numerous creative teams, some of which included guys like Dave Michelinie, Bob Layton, Yvel Guichet, and David Lapham (he pencilled #1. And that’s it. I think. Surprised me, too). And the first one had a cover by Jim Lee.
The HARD in HARD Corps stands for Harbinger Active Resistance Division. Now, I’m working completely from memory here, and most knowledge of the Valiant universe has slipped my mind, so I’m just going to paste in some info from the title’s Wikipedia entry: “The title’s focus was a corporate strike team (representing Omen Enterprises) dealing with Toyo Harada, a character from the Harbinger title, and his goal of controlling all Harbingers. The characters were normal humans who were comatose and revived with an experimental brain implant that also enabled them to access an assortment of artificial Harbinger super-abilities via an operator named ‘Softcore.’ Capture or death causes the implants to explode, killing the Corps member if he or she was still alive.” There you have it. Suicide Squad meets Challengers of the Unknown with a neat superpower gimmick. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a cool concept.
The characters had all sorts of cool GI-Joe-y names like Gunslinger, Shakespeare, Hammerhead, Superstar, Hotshot, Flatline, and the like. (Remember, it was the 90’s.) They had trainees and reservists and stuff who could graduate if a member got offed (which happened a few times).
The powers they could call up were kinda neat, too. There was your standard flight, invulnerability, energy shield, intangibility, invisibility, super-strength, etc. Some interesting ones would show up, though, like Tsetse, which put people to sleep, some kind of explodo-touch, neural spikes, and all sorts of energy, laser, electricity, and force blasts. When they captured a “Harbinger,” they put ‘em in the database in order to replicate their powers and stuff. And the gimmick was that they could only use one power at a time. That was a nice touch. Of course, when they didn’t use powers, they mostly shot people in the face.
The title even had some sort of spinoff, the “Psi-Lords,” which took place in the far future! With Rao and Magnus, Robot Fighter! Awesome, right? Right? No?
Okay, okay, I know what you’re thinking; you’re thinking this comic wasn’t good enough to make the list of reasons to love comics. Well, I remember liking it. This was one of those series you found in five-packs for a dollar in department stores, and that’s where most of my issues come from (the rest were probably from a quarter box). I thought it was fun. The characters grew on me. It wasn’t a revolutionary series, but it was one of the high points of the Valiant line. Your mileage may vary, of course.
I have no idea how the series ended. I probably don’t want to know. But the series was well-done and an entertaining read. Sometimes, that’s all that matters, y’know?
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