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Imperium #4

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by Joshua Dysart, Doug Braithwaite, Brian Reber

Imperium #4 is concerned with the “mad scientist” of the title, Angela Baingana. The issue opens with Baingana and her team exploring a higher dimension; however, while there they stumble across another entity who captures Angela and takes her eyes. Her assistants are able to retrieve her, but back at the mobile PRS station, it is revealed that she is now acting as a vessel for the entity. The entity makes an arrangement with Director Kozol: in exchange for allowing it to remain on Earth to conduct its research (it claims to be a scientist), it will build him a cold fusion reactor. Meanwhile, Gravedigger has escaped from the Foundation Zone and been retrieved by PRS. Angela vouches for his trustworthiness, but unbeknownst to him, Harada is observing PRS through him. Upon learning of the cold fusion reactor, Harada gathers his forces to conduct a raid on Leviathan.

With this issue, one gets the sense that we are finally reading what Joshua Dysart had envisioned for the title. On the one hand, the “mad scientist” and Harada’s spying technique feel very much like tropes of a classic supervillian story; yet, the manipulation and backstabbing seems to echo contemporary politics (the cold fusion reactor especially feels like it is drawing on the current debate surrounding the Iranian nuclear power program), which Dysart has admitted to be one of his passions. Yet, even though this Imperium has been one of Valiant’s most overtly political titles, it never becomes shrill or overbearing. It requires a deft hand from the writer to strike that kind of balance.

In the past, I’ve complained (?…maybe “expressed concern” is a better sentiment) about the title’s decompression, but I could honestly read another four issues just like this. It’s possible that this because I’ve adjusted to the both the pace of Imperium and to reading on a monthly basis rather than in trade. I’m also no longer concerned about new readers, simply because I figure that anyone who has stuck around until now will continue to do so. Ironically enough, the next issue promises to be action-packed, but even if the series continues at a slow burn, it is still worth reading; even though the first couple of issues were relatively slow, they improve when taken in context with each successive issue.

I was originally surprised when Doug Braithwaite was paired with Dysart on Imperium. My concern was that there wouldn’t be enough “big moments” to justify his presence. Fortunately, I’ve been proven wrong, not because the series has been chalk full of action scenes, but because Braithwaite has shown how much he can add to dialogue-heavy moments. That said, the sequence in the higher dimension was brilliantly rendered, especially due to the strong color work of Brian Reber and Ulises Arreola.

If next issue’s raid on Leviathan is as big as I imagine it will be, it’s possible that Imperium could begin to move in an entirely different direction. While these character-based issues haven’t always read well on a monthly basis, they’re obviously the foundation for the title, much like “the Renegades” arc did for Harbinger. Thus far, Imperium seems capable of matching the heights of Dysart’s previous Valiant title.

Originally from ValiantCentral.com

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