By Joshua Dysart, Doug Braithwaite, Brian Reber and Dave McCaig
Not being one to pay much attention to solicits, because being surprised is frankly much better, Imperium starts off with a surprising look at one of many possibilities for the future of the Valiant Universe. It’s a great opening and maybe even foreshadows the direction that Joshua Dysart wants to take this book.
The impression left on us from Doug Braithwaite after his work on Armor Hunters created a huge expectation for this series. Braithwaite, of course, brings all that we’ve come to expect and more; with fantastic, sweeping backgrounds full of details and touches that shouldn’t go overlooked. His intricate character work, of course, stands out from the rest, particularly with Harada who seems perpetually pissed and positively badass. Every panel with Harada just screams, ‘This is a man you do not want to cross’. Braithwaite is another one of those special artists in the Valiant roster and it’s damn good to see him on another book.
Braithwaite’s big imagery and fantastically placed panels and characters are infinitely enhanced by the mostly muted tones of Brian Reber and Dave McCaig. The assumption, and since Valiant doesn’t detail who has colored what, is that Reber colored the first half of the book and McCaig colored the rest, but that’s only a barely-educated guess at best.[UPDATE: Valiant confirmed this was the correct colorist breakdown] Assuming this, though, Reber’s lighter, brighter and more positive coloring to the books opening glimpse of a potential future certainly enhances everything Braithwaite and Dysart were after while McCaig’s muddier, darker tone to the latter half of the books—call it the beginning of the road to that future—succeeds in presenting the exact opposite.
Joshua Dysart, the architect of Harbinger, certainly has some big plans for Imperium. His vision for one of the potential futures of the Valiant Universe is sprawling and super interesting. His work with Harada, of course, has been and will undoubtedly continue to be interesting as he goes after that future with all the tools that he has, and then some. He’s a masterful, crafty tactician that has spent hours planning his moves like a large scale chess game for all the marbles.
With some very interesting characters at his disposal, Dysart and Braithwaite have a fantastic set of possibilities set out in front of them. These Harbingers and their powers, unleashed against the world as Harada looks to mold it into his vision is something that should intrigue anybody, but it’s particularly intriguing to fans of the VU. How is this book going to clash with the rest of them and how is it going to affect them and the rest of the VU? There’s so much potential here and Imperium really could be one of those titles that helps shape and move the VU in big, big ways and all you can do is strap in for the ride. Imperium, easily, is another win for Valiant and comic fans everywhere.