by Joshua Dysart, Scot Eaton, Livesay, Brian Reber and Dave Sharpe
With a brand new arc starting in Imperium, hopes are high we get to see more action from the team that Toyo Harada has assembled. The problem that immediately smacks you in the face, however, is the loss of Doug Braithwaite on art duties and, boy, is it apparently quick. Frankly, there is nobody that can match up with Doug Braithwaite–maybe Esad Ribic for the lighter inks and pencil look–so jumping into this new arc with an entirely new art team was, well, jarring.
The visual credits for this book are as follows: Scot Eaton (Penciler), Livesay (Inker) and Pere Perez (Art) and Brian Reber (Colors). Based on the title page about midway through the book, we’re going to assume that the Perez credit is a mistake and remove him from the equation. That leaves us with the immensely talented Reber on colors, who literally can do no wrong and whose name has become synonymous with fantastic colors within the comic book community and Eaton and Livesay. Look, first and foremost, Eaton and Livesay do an admirable job and it’s understandable that a book of this magnitude that is essentially keeping a tent pole of the Valiant Universe alive needs to come out monthly, but the loss of Braithwaite weighs heavy on the first few pages of this book.
Maybe Imperium needed to run on a similar, free, schedule that has been afforded to Matt Kindt and Clayton Crain’s Rai where that books takes major breaks to keep the art consistent and maintain the look and feel that Crain has concretely established. Braithwaite established a tone and feel to Imperium that just can’t be replicated and for this reader it has really hurt the book to take this, likely necessary, turn. In the same breath, again, Eaton and Livesay, once you get used to this new feel of the book, are great. Admirable, from earlier, sounded snarky but that’s not the case. Forgetting about the look that Braithwaite started, the book looks good. It’s Valiant, so how could it not? It’s just… it’s just not the same and forever being an advocate for waiting instead of trading off artists or having a list of different people on one book it’s hard to stay completely behind this.
Dysart, of course, knocks it out of the park and frankly saves the day with his story weaving. We really don’t get too much by way of action just yet, but it’s certainly a start. By no means does every book need to be a Michael Bay movie, but it’s certainly nice to get some good fight sequences here and there. Disarm, ever the master of the long game, continues to build while paying off some of the hints from the last arc and, though expected, it’s still brilliantly executed and extremely enjoyable to watch unfold. There’s something about Dysart’s writing that just hits all the right notes, at exactly the right times that just makes the whole thing feel… well, right. His end game here is still fuzzy, but it’s clear that he has a goal and a destination in mind just as it’s clear that getting there is going to be half the fun.
Regardless of the massive swing on the art side of things, Imperium continues to be a fantastic book from Valiant. With all the reboots and relaunches and number ones and all this going on in the industry, Valiant remains on the path it started way back in 2012 and ever single issues is done with the utmost care and consideration as it moves the stories and universe forward. Dysart is a beast, Eaton, Livesay and Reber, everything else aside, kill it and, yeah, Imperium is still a must-read book. Tonto, jump on it, jump on it.
Sorry. It was on the bar’s radio.