Writer: Joshua Dysart
Artists: Cafu, Juan Jose Ryp
Colourists: Brian Reber, Ulises Arreola
Letterer: Dave Sharpe, Taylor Esposito Collection Cover
Editor: Alejandro Arbona.
So if you’ve been keeping up with Valiant comics and/or just Imperium itself, you’d already know that Toyo Harada is one of this world’s greatest adversaries and this comic continues to flesh out why he’s such an interesting one at that. If you’re looking for an in depth character study as to how this singular man poses such a threat in the first place and the psychology behind his intentions, then this is the comic for you. And while you can read this as a standalone volume, I recommend you go read the previous volumes beforehand for the same reasons you should read this.
Now let’s get to the point, what’s this comic about and why the hell is it worth your hard earned money? To be brief, this volume unveils Harada’s ongoing history with the ‘Vine plantings’, a society of secret alien agents of a galaxy spanning race and pushes our world to war. Now when both of these entities want to bend the earth to their will, of course there’s going to be some conflict between them. Simply put, while this comic does explore elements of science fiction, it’s also still pretty grounded. Because seriously, this is a really sophisticated read. I mean it’s extremely well-written and meticulously illustrated to core. However, it’s a pretty heavy read with fairly long narrations, so this isn’t exactly for anyone who wants to read a typical superhero/villain story.
Harada for one is a really socially relevant and complex character. He basically acts as social commentary to the violent cycle of war and injustice, and quite frankly, he seems to see himself as an answer to it. It’s really fun and intellectually stimulating to read into him, while also reading into characters that juxtapose him in terms of reason and morality. Characters like Sunlight on Snow and LV-99 whose ideology tend to clash both and meet with Harada’s in various way, one of which is genuinely sympathetic. That character however is not LV-99, who’s a being that takes pleasure in taking lives. He’s also very disturbing looking figure, which brings me to the art.
Firstly I’d like to say that Cafu masterfully illustrates aliens, because I’m going to be honest. It takes real skill to articulate foreign body language and slight facial expressions, let alone human ones. So when you look at LV-99, it is literally an experience to study him. It’s almost as if he’s moving like a creature in a film, and while that’s obviously not the case, it adds a lot of character to his art. And the same could be said about Juan Jose Rip, who instilled the comic with a genuine sense of knowing what the personal stakes at hand were. It just added to the heat and intensity of the story and I enjoyed that. Pencils aside, the colouring was
also really good and extremely consistent, while also convincingly portraying emotions like anger, dread and fear.
And for that, I’m going to give this comic a BUY. This is a story that’s definitely going to stay fresh in my mind for a while because in the end it was an extremely good character study of the person Harada is now without colouring him a single shade of black or white. And while he’s still a monster in his own right, the same can be said for several other atrocities and even relatable figures in Valiant. So again, this one’s a BUY 4.5/5