This week marks the launch of Imperium #1 and as a result we’ve decided to start a new column called “Round Robin Review” where each member of the Valiant Central team gives a short, spoiler-free review of the books. You can still expect a slightly more spoilery full-length review on Wednesdays!

Amy’s take

Joshua Dysart once again proves why he is one of my favorite writers in comics today. Imperium #1 is a compelling story that makes the reader feel not like an observer but an actual participant. The protagonist of the story is Toyo Harada, a charismatic and powerful leader. While the themes of the story is not unfamiliar – does the end justify the means – Dysart’s usage of narrative gives the reader the opportunity to be both a protege of Harada, awash in belief and determination, and an outside observer who sees the means in black and white. Powerful stuff. Solid artwork by Doug Braithwaite propels the story throughout the book and conveys the emotion and struggle of the storyline. He is doing some of his best work at Valiant. The coloring adds to the emotion of the visual storyline, giving us brightness and airiness in times of hope, and muted colors and grit in times of conflict. Excellent book and my pick of the week!

Martin’s take

What a terrific start for this book. If you’ve been a fan of his work on Harbinger, you will love the natural progression that has lead to Imperium #1. For new readers, you may not fully understand the importance of what happens in this issue, though Joshua Dysart does a terrific job at introducing the characters and concepts. If this first issue is any indication of what’s to come, Imperium is bound to be one of the most exciting character explorations to come out of Valiant yet.

Paul’s take

Do you know how often I’m genuinely caught off guard by anything? Almost never, and Imperium #1 did this very well. For those that go into reading this having read Harbinger and Harbinger: Omegas, the beginning of this comic is anything but what you would expect. Dysart’s story telling is at its finest. Braithwaite’s art is fantastic and very suiting for this story. For those who have never read Valiant before, a great story is challenging and won’t be spoon fed to you. I’m confident that questions will be answered as things go on, so take the ride and you won’t regret it!

Scott’s take

It was an interesting choice on Joshua Dysart’s part to structure this issue in the manner that he did, with more than half of it occurring outside of the present time. That said, in doing so, he manages to perfectly encapsulate Harada’s vision without simply recapping what occurred in Harbinger. Additionally, the structure really conveys the contrast between Harada’s utopian dreams of the future versus the practical realities of achieving it, which will undoubtedly be one of the primary themes of Imperium. Also, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but Doug Braithwaite’s art looks fantastic; it was a bit peculiar when he was announced as the artist for this series, because Dysart has a character-focused approach whereas Braithwaite is at his best when it comes to conveying the really big moments; however, he does great work in both the quieter moments in the beginning while still delivering those action set-pieces in the second half.

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