“The battlefield is a scene of constant chaos. The winner will be the one who controls that chaos, both his own and the enemies.”
― Napoleon Bonaparte
Valiant Entertainment’s Imperium is excellence in modern-day comic book literature and easily one of the strongest titles of this decade. With the release of Imperium #15, this has been a series that in just over one year has not once released a disappointing issue, and each All-Comic.com review has constantly given 4 and 5 stars (from multiple writers). The sales numbers that have been reported month after month have been unforgivingly low for such an amazing series that easily deserves so much more from the comic fan community. Imperium is a masterpiece in literature with a conceptual scope that is ahead of its time, and if Imperium were a TV series, it would (likely) be nominated for an Emmy Award by the Television Academy. There is some discussion that the series will end with Imperium #16 which would truly be a sad reality if true. However, the story of Imperium (see also: Harbinger) will likely continue for years to come.
The mastermind behind Imperium is writer Joshua Dysart, and man who has seen first-hand the aftermath of geopolitical events and regional conflicts. Dysart’s writing in Imperium both mirrors and addresses many of these unresolved and harsh realities which has created a riveting and compelling story that is clearly fictional; however, significantly grounded in reality. All factions involved on both sides of the events have well established and clear motives that truly make sense and are understandable. Two people can read this story in its entirety and have vastly differing opinions as to who ultimately is “right” and who is “wrong” with their actions.
In the story of Imperium, perhaps the most powerful man on earth, Toyo Harada, has decided to use his knowledge, vision, resources, and powers to build a better world for humanity. Ethically, Harada has subscribed to the core consequences of the philosophical stance known as Utilitarianism; a philosophy which holds that you judge the rightness or wrongness of one’s actions by the principle of making the most people happy (“the greatest good for the greatest number of people”). In a quote, Harada’s utilitarian belief might say “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one” (Note: This same logic was most famously used by Dr. Spock in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan when he sacrificed himself for to save the crew of the USS ENTERPRISE). As the “Omega Harbinger” Harada has decided that it is his personal responsibility to build this better world, at any cost. Harada alone possesses the “supreme imperium” of the Harbingers; the power to command his army of super beings (The Harbinger Foundation) that is destined to change the face of humanity and usher in a golden age.
“On ne saurait faire d’omelette sans casser des œufs…”
(French: “You’ve got to crack a few eggs to make an omelet…” )
– François Athanase de Charette de la Contrie
Dysart’s Imperium #15 focuses at the center-point of the Stormbreak story arc, where a joint operation to counter Harada’s plans by H.A.R.D. Corps and Unity leadership is in its execution phase. What is evident is how formidable key-members are on both sides of this conflict. There are no paper tigers, as everyone involved is truly a tactical threat and wild card on the battlefield in such a way that Dysart is able to maintain a sense of urgency and suspense throughout the issue. Dysart shines here, but it is no wonder as he has shined throughout the entire series and prior. Dysart is a highly talented writer who possesses both vision and direction that is ever evident with his work on this issue.
Artistically, veteran Valiant artist Khari Evans (who previously worked on Harbinger) completely nails each page and character with a full-range of emotions, movement, action, and accurate characterization. Evans’ rendering of the exterior and interior of a USAF C-17 aircraft is quite accurate, as is the rendering of Class III merchant vessels and container ships operating in the Indian Ocean. It is possible to complain only slightly about the weapons that Evans draws (not sure if MAJ Palmer is using a M4-type carbine rifle or a European carbine rifle as it changes in appearance a few times). However, this in no way affects the quality of this story. Victor Olazaba provides the inks over Evans’s pencils, seamlessly matching the work. Colorist Ulises Arreola takes an interesting approach with this issue by coloring the ocean with a red-based color palate which (oddly enough) works quite well with the intended tone of the story. There is much going on each page, yet Arreola’s colors never overwhelm and seem to match Evans’s art with a sense of balance that Arreola is well known for.
Imperium should be listed among the best comic book series released by any publisher in the last decade. It is a phenomenal series that cannot be more strongly recommended to readers.