Imperium #2 makes one thing abundantly clear; to be a hero you have to do some pretty awful things.
The official description from Valiant:
A psychic dictator, an inhuman robot, a mad scientist, a murderous alien and a super powered terrorist are about to try and take over the world… And you’re going to be rooting for them every step of the way.
Joshua Dysart likes to get his hands dirty and his characters, his heroes, he covers in blood but for all the right reasons. Valiant, unlike most superhero publishers, like to keep their heroes and villains in very grey areas and Imperium is the epitome of that. Dysart has always infused ultimate baddie, Toyo Harada, with the ability to kill, destroy and obliterate anything that stands in the way of his mission to create peace and a utopia on Earth. Imperium #1 lays his foundation but issue #2 focuses on the flip side of the coin.
Imperium #2 focuses on the H.A.R.D. Corps, primarily their leader, Gravedog. Dysart gives us a set of “heroes” you can most definitely root against and shift your cheers to Harada and his mission, not matter the brutality. Since Harbinger, Dysart is dialed in to ambiguous villains and Imperium #2 raises the bar to the next level. By the end readers might not know who’s side they’re on but they will know they have read one hell of a comic!
Doug Braithwaite is outstanding as usual. His ability to balance the clean lines of high-tech soldiers, the super-powered psiots with the grit and sketchiness of a middle eastern war-zone in near perfect. His character designs are solid and Mech Major is incredibly unique and a fresh take on a robot made for war. His design alone makes it a reader favorite and Dysart’s characterization of this A.I. takes it over the top. Give us a Mech Major book soon!
Imperium #2 turns on a dime at the end of the issue and, quite frankly, as a reader I shouldn’t have been surprised, given Dysart’s track record, but I most certainly was. The first two issues of this series has crammed so much information, mistrust, deceit and drama that readers are pulled in a tug of war of loyalties but the story never suffers and is better off in the long run. If you like your heroes and villains explicitly defined in terms of good and bad Imperium #2 may drive you mad. But if you simply love great storytelling, grand action and incredibly interesting characters, don’t miss this book. It’s as good as any Valiant book has been of late and I dare say it’s better.