By Joshua Dysart, Scot Eaton, Wayne Faucher, Brian Reber
Imperium is the follow-up series to Harbinger, following the exploits of Toyo Harada as he attempts to rebuild his fallen empire and recreate the world in his image. Some Harbinger fans may have initially been disappointed that the story no longer focused on the Renegades, but Imperium offers readers a chance to empathize with the antagonist of the Harbinger tale. Writer Joshua Dysart presents a sophisticated story in both substance and structure that illuminates the often hazy area of ethics. His portrayal of a man with noble goals who employs villainous means causes readers to question traditional hero and villain archetypes. Dysart uses a light touch, never brow-beating the concept, instead creating a thought-provoking story that embraces honesty and humor as a means for delivery.
Like Harbinger before it, Imperium has been building its roster of characters by giving each of the major team players a spotlight issue. Deemed a team of “monsters”, Dysart portrays both their good and bad aspects in a relatable way. Meanwhile, main character Toyo Harada has taken a back seat to the direct action, allowing readers to understand his influence over those around him. Issues 6 and 7 see Harada step out of the shadows and lead his new team in a major offensive to steal technology and add to his unique team roster.
Readers were teased with an image of Divinity, Valiant Universe’s god-like cosmonaut, on the last page of issue 6. Imperium #7 picks up during the initial aftermath of that battle, and it quickly becomes apparent that things are not what they seem. Divinity is at the wheel.
This issue is remarkable in that it provides great insight into Harada’s psyche. A highly illuminating look into one man’s psychology, this book may push those readers on the fence regarding Harada’s status as an ignoble hero or a true villain firmly to one side. It was refreshing to see this powerful and charismatic character lose control. How he handles this unfamiliar inferiority shows us who Harada is at his core. Also telling is the manner in which he reasserts himself and uses the situation as a learning tool to assure his eventual dominance.
Divinity is an excellent addition to the storyline. It only makes sense that Harada would see the usefulness of such a character on his team of powerful monsters. Imperium, by definition, means the sovereignty of state over individual, implying that these two might share a common goal. Divinity may have once been a communist, but he is now above political trappings. His idea of utopia is keyed to the individual – what they believe to be their paradise. His persona makes an interesting juxtaposition to Harada’s. Harada, the dominant dog who believes himself a savior and therefore justifiable using all means to achieve his goals, versus Divinity, a man with god-like powers who understands that power must be used for the greater good, but within the boundaries of ethical behavior. Watching these two characters mentally spar was excellent reading.
The last time we saw Divinity was after his capture by the Unity team. This story expounds upon that captivity, explaining where and how he is being held. Fans of the Divinity miniseries should find this further display of his abilities and beliefs provoking.
Artist Scot Eaton and inker Wayne Faucher continue to work well together in this arc. Eaton does a good job of propelling the story through its many time arcs without losing the reader. Faucher provides a heavy but clean ink line. Brian Reber’s colors are impactful. The brighter color palette perfectly compliment the change in setting from a grim underwater battle to the joys and lightness of someone experiencing their emotional utopia.
Imperium #7 is a well-crafted story that furthers the tale of Toyo Harada in his quest to remake the world. The inclusion of Divinity adds another dimension to this thought-provoking story, the outcome of which will reverberate throughout the Valiant universe and leave readers clamoring for more.