Writer: Joshua Dysart
Artist: Doug Braithwaite
Imperium has been one of the most intriguing series published by Valiant so far. It has made it difficult for readers to decide what side of the war they actually want to cheer for. On one hand, Toyo Harada is considered a villain due to his extremism. On the other, we have an organization dedicated to stopping him with members that are despicable. Nothing is black and white and makes for one of the smartest reads from Valiant Universe.
Following Gravedog’s surrender, the story takes us back to Harada’s base of operations. Part of the issue focuses on Harada extracting information from Gravedog, who shows interest in joining the psiots. The more interesting part of the issue focuses on Mech Major. Mech Major has been one of the more interesting characters of the series due to his compassion, despite being a robot. It is tasked with watching the growth of a Vine organism. As the organism grows from a seed, Mech Major finds itself relating to the creature, forming a bond with it. This alarms those working with Harada, because never has a robot shown this much compassion or emotion. The character is even trying to get others to recognize its desired name, “Sunlight on Snow.”
Joshua Dysart is doing some of his best writing right now. This issue is dialogue heavy, with many monologues from Mech Major. He seems to be going through a major existential crisis, and Dysart is making it believable. There are subtle signs of some of Harada’s foundation falling apart, but at the same time it also seems to be growing in strength. Nothing is simple in this series, and that is what makes it stand out from other titles.
Doug Braithwaite’s art is effective and provocative. While on the surface the art seems simple enough, there are plenty of unique panel layouts that enhance the flow of the story. In a panel where Mech Major is explaining the meaning of its desired name, there is the depiction of sunlight shining upon snow on a mountain within the character. It’s hard to describe, but it’s one of the more beautiful panels in this issue.