An important Crisis on Infinite Earths character, Harbinger, is someone who's at the center of the Arrowverse's 2019 crossover. But who is Harbinger, exactly? Even the most die-hard of comic fans know little about the Monitor's chief agent, despite her being one of the key figures in DC Comics' long history.
Much has been said about how Crisis on Infinite Earths had been planned as an Arrowverse event since The Flash season 1 and the first appearance of a newspaper from the future discussing how Flash disappeared suddenly. Few have noted that the hints to an Arrowverse Crisis started far earlier, with the character of Lyla Michaels being introduced in Arrow season 1 as an agent of the anti-terrorism organization ARGUS and John Diggle's ex-wife. While she bore the code-name Harbinger, there was nothing to suggest that this Lyla Michaels would ever be seen as an cosmic avenger until recently.
In addition to Harbinger, Arrowverse's Crisis on Infinite Earths features several noteworthy characters, such as Pariah, who took part in the original comic book series, written by Marv Wolfman, who also co-wrote the Arrowverse crossover. All of this is adding up to suggest an event to equal Avengers: Endgame, but of course on television instead.
Harbinger Comic Origin Explained
First appearing in New Teen Titans Annual #2 in July 1983, Lyla Michaels seemed to be nothing more than a glorified secretary to The Monitor, albeit one who worked out of a satellite base. When he was first introduced in the comics, the Monitor was presented as an intergalactic fixer, arranging the sales of alien weapons and the recruitment of henchmen for various supervillains and crime bosses. It would be several years before the Monitor's true purpose (and, by extension, Lyla's) would be revealed.
As the build-up to Crisis on Infinite Earths continued, it was revealed that the Monitor was far more powerful than he let on and was a manifestation of the positive matter multiverse. It was also revealed that the Monitor was a being of noble intent, who only assisted evil-doers in their villainy as a means of testing the heroes of the multiverse to find those capable of assisting him in the battle with his opposing counterpart, the Anti-Monitor. One way the Monitor's true nature was shown was through a flashback, revealing that he had saved a young Lyla Michaels from being lost at sea as a child and raised her himself, coming to regard the orphaned girl as a daughter.
When the Crisis began, the Monitor empowered Lyla, dubbing her Harbinger and sending her into the multiverse to gather the forces needed to fight the Anti-Monitor. When the Crisis was over and the wounded multiverse condensed itself into a single positive-matter universe, Harbinger was one of the few beings who remembered the multiverse that existed before the Crisis. This led her to begin recording the history of the new Earth and, eventually, being offered a place on Themyscira as the Amazons' official historian.
Harbinger Powers & Abilities Explained
Harbinger's chief power was self-cloning and the ability to simultaneously control all of her clones across the multiverse. It is worth noting, however, that Lyla didn't have the ability to traverse the multiverse on her own and that this ability was granted to her thanks to a piece of advanced technology given to her by the Monitor - an orb that not only allowed for instantaneous travel across space, time and between universes, but also acted as a recorder, taking notes of activities around it on a cosmic level. Harbinger would use this orb after the Crisis to began making a record of the new Earth's history.
Even without the orb, Harbinger is a being of considerable power. In her enhanced form, Lyla Michaels is capable of flight and firing energy blasts from her hands. She possesses super-strength on par with Wonder Woman and the other Amazons of Earth. Finally, Harbinger's body possesses a considerable degree of enhanced durability and she has been shown shrugging of both physical and energy-based attacks with little apparent discomfort.
Harbinger In Crisis On Infinite Earths
First appearing in the Arrow season 1 episode "Unfinished Business", Lyla Michaels' introduction into the Arrowverse seemed like an Easter egg intended only for the most die-hard of comic book fans. John Diggle contacted his ex-wife with information regarding the assassin Deadshot, hoping that ARGUS might succeed where he had failed in getting a lead on the man who killed his younger brother, Andy. They later reconciled in Arrow season 2, with the season ending with the revelation that Lyla was pregnant with Diggle's child. Season 3 opened with Lyla giving birth and by the end, she and Diggle had remarried. Lyla would later be promoted to the position of Director of ARGUS, following the death of Amanda Waller in the Arrow season 4 episode "AWOL".
Throughout all of these events, Lyla maintained the Harbinger code-name, though there was never any sign that it would pay off in her becoming an agent of the Monitor until the recent announcement that Audrey Marie Anderson would be the cosmic Harbinger in Crisis on Infinite Earths. It remains to be seen, however, just how the comic book version of Harbinger will be realized in the Arrowverse. Will the Lyla Michaels of Earth-1 be chosen by the Monitor as a herald, in much the same way that he recruited Oliver Queen to act as his agent? Or will this Harbinger be a new character; a version of Lyla Michaels from another reality?
Given the original Crisis on Infinite Earth comics, this later scenario seems more likely, as Marv Wolfman said that Lyla Michaels originally came from our world (i.e. Earth Prime). It has also already been established that the Lyla Michaels of Earth-1 will survive Crisis and continue to raise her sons by the flash-forwards into the reality of Star City 2040 during Arrow season 7. Either way, it is clear that Harbinger with have a major role to play in the future of the Arrowverse.