By Joshua Dysart, Doug Braithwaite and Brian Reber w/ Ulises Arreola
Without a doubt, one of the shining gems amongst the Valiant Universe has been Harbinger and its subsequent follow up series, for lack of anything else to call it, Imperium. Writer Joshua Dysart has seemingly had free reign to do what he pleases in this corner of the Universe and, frankly, it’s paid off big time.
Dysart is methodical in how he crafts his stories, develops his characters and in how he paces everything. Every detail is undoubtedly planned out and scrutinized before he puts pen to paper, or finger to key, and it shows. These first four issues have really set up what’s been going on in Toyo Harada’s world after the conclusion of Harbinger and, boy, he has been a busy man. The team that Dysart is putting together is already looking like a contender against anybody else in the VEI Universe, up to and including the mighty Unity team and that speaks volumes, potentially at least, to what might be in store for Harada and Imperium coming down the line. Dysart holds all his cards close to his chest, so who can really say what he has planned. Whatever it is, you can be sure that it’s going to be exciting, it’s going to be big and it’s going to alter the Valiant Universe going forward.
You can’t have a story of this magnitude, with characters this larger-than-life and not have an art team that stacks up or exceeds what the writer had in mind. With Valiant, if you’ve been paying attention, they’ve got one of the best groups of pencilers, inkers and colorists in the business so finding a team to suit Dysart’s vision probably wasn’t that difficult. Doug Braithwaite and veteran Valiant colorist Brian Reber, along with Ulises Arreola, are a team that exceeds the vision that Dysart has and wants to show the reader. That is evident within the first few pages of this issue alone, even if you completely ignore the work they’ve done up to this point.
Braithwaite is an absolute beast and has likely produced his best issue to date and it seems like he’s just getting warmed up. The first three issues were great and easily matched up with almost anything else you can find in comics today, but this issue… it’s something special. The back story of Angela is twisted, creepy and downright insane and somehow Braithwaite has taken something brutal and made it beautiful and awe inspiring, if you’re in to that sort of thing. Once again, it seems like Braithwaite can do no wrong and, really, he’s produced a flawless issue and one that you’re going to want to pour over for a long time to come.
Of course, part of this magnificent team’s flawless look and execution falls on the shoulders of Brian Reber, who turns Braithwaite’s pencils and inks into the beautiful final product you see between the covers. From those first few opening scenes of insanity, where both guys really let loose, to the quieter moments… man, it can’t be stressed enough how good these guys are. It’s one of those things you really need to experience for yourself.
Words are hard, so let’s say this as simply as possible: Imperium is a f***ing giant amongst men, and has quite possibly usurped the throne as Valiant’s top series. The writing is deep, intricate, methodical and powerful and the art takes all that and puts it onto the page in a way that no other comic seems to be doing. Imperium is the must-read book right now, and for the love of all things holy/evil/blue, you need to pick this up.