By Joshua Dysart, CAFU, Juan Jose Ryp, and Brian Reber.
Imperium #10 kicks off with a bang and never lets readers catch their breath. Possibly the best single issue of Imperium to date, the latest chapter in the “Vine Imperative” arc is a captivating tale of the past colliding with present.
Written by Joshua Dysart, the story reveals the beginnings of the decades-long hostilities between Harada and the Vine plantings on earth. An engrossing history lesson told through the experiences of a Vine planting, the tale ties in nicely with flashbacks seen in Harbinger Wars. Although it is not necessary to read that event, those who have will appreciate revisiting a few familiar faces from that time period. The flashbacks in Imperium #10 take place prior to those in Harbinger Wars.
There are some important revelations in the past, from Vine anatomy to the impetus behind the start of another major entity. History buffs will enjoy seeing the characters’ storylines set within historical events.
While the majority of the issue takes place in the past, there’s plenty of interesting details in the story’s current timeline. Several of the characters are playing a deadly game of subterfuge that will undoubtedly result in explosive confrontation. Earlier books gave each of Harada’s team their own spotlight; this story focuses on the two most random and unusual members of his team, Sunlight on Snow and Lord Vine 99.
One of Dysart’s strong points is his ability to craft well-defined characters. He also excels at subtle commentary, never over-emphasizing elements to make a point or forcing his viewpoint on the reader. Instead, he holds up a mirror to ourselves and allows us to draw our own conclusions. Take for example the juxtaposition of the natures of the two non-human characters, Sunlight on Snow and Lord Vine 99. It’s not a commentary on good versus evil but rather a study of higher “moral” behavior versus primal. One exemplifies the part of humanity that most people hold in esteem; the other revels in the most base, violent nature of ourselves. Angels and demons.
History, and truth in general, are a matter of viewpoint. The history in this book is the story of the Vine plantings, told from their perspective rather than that of Harada. This allows readers to see both the plantings and Harada in a different light. In the process, we see Harada as not so different from his teammate Broken Angel, whose scientific curiosity and lack of empathy for her subjects borders on psychopathy – at least from the viewpoint of the reader and Harada himself. This depth of story writing is one of the reasons why Valiant stands out.
Artist CAFU lends his clean and expressive style to the storyline taking place in the present. His characters, whether human or creature, emote and take on a life of their own, making his art an excellent match for Dysart’s storytelling.
Whenever an issue contains more than one timeline, Valiant traditionally uses a second artist to differentiate the shift in time period. Such is the case here, and it is done to great success. Juan Jose Ryp illustrates the flashback storyline. Although the shift in artists is obvious, it is never jarring. Ryp’s work has a grittier feel to it, which matches the confrontation and emotions of the past storyline well. His style meshes well with CAFU’s, with both artists having a talent for making their characters act. Tying it all together is Brian Reber, whose consistent coloring unifies the storylines. As is his standard, the colors are natural and seem authentic. His attention to how light falls on subjects, points of illumination and shadow, is well done and lends realism to the characters.
Imperium #10 is an exciting and revealing read, and one of the best books in the series. Unlike some back-stories, this book exposes secrets and provides the necessary understanding for the importance of the next part of the Imperium story, setting the stage for the mayhem to come. This book should be your first read on new comic day.