While Sunlight on Snow undergoes a psych evaluation, the Vine planting, Sasha Solomon makes contact with LV-99. However, the bulk of the story is a flashback detailing the Vine plantings’ first encounter and ensuing war with Toyo Harada. How does it fare?
Imperium #10 shifts the focus away from Toyo Harada’s present day machinations and focuses on a past conflict between the Vine plantings led by Tess Solomon and Harada’s Harbinger Foundation. Before writer Joshua Dysart delves into the past, he prefaces it by comparing and contrasting Sunlight on Snow with LV-99. If you have been following the series, you know these two characters are almost polar opposites, and Dysart sets out to reinforce that idea. Both of their emotions are laid on the line, as Sunlight on Snow enjoys the niceties he receives while LV-99 displays his unfettered bloodlust towards Harada.
After comparing and contrasting LV-99 with Sunlight on Snow, Dysart uses a good plot device, that being Tess Solomon’s retelling of her initial encounters with Harada, to transition the story to the past. From here, Dysart is able to combine telling the story through Tess Solomon’s narrative voice as well as dialogue within the past. The way Dysart writes Tess’ story makes you feel like you are within the Vine Collective Psychic Space as if she is talking directly to you, the reader. However, this style of narrative leads to a more drawn out story with asides that personalize Tess Solomon and don’t seem to be all too important to the actual plot. It can also seem like an exposition overload.
While in the past, Dysart also shows us a different side of Harada. While he has already demonstrated his ruthlessness, this is the first time in the book we have really seen his curiosity. However, the Vine plantings and specifically Tess Solomon is where Dysart does some heavy lifting when it comes to character building. He describes their collective strength in the feats they are able to accomplish and the challenges they pose to Harada.
Complimenting Dysart’s script is Cafu’s artwork. It really shines in this issue. He expertly captures the emotional toll the Vine plantings undertake when confronting Harada. There is one panel depicting the younger Tess Solomon that truly depicts pure terror.
The action sequences are also extremely powerful, mainly due to them being spread out. It highlights Harada’s sheer power because he only needs two or three panels on a page to defeat the Vine plantings. A set of four panels really showcases this when the Vine Planting Liberation Army (V.P.L.A.) attempts to assassinate Harada via a helicopter.
Cafu’s panel layouts allow for ease of reading. There was never a time where you had to look back or second guess whether or not you were reading the panels in the correct order. If there was one mistake, it was an exploding head looking more like a ball of tomato paste than an exploding head.
Brian Reber’s colors really bring to life the emotions Cafu is depicting. He does an excellent job of lightening the area around Tess’ head during the sheer terror panel to accentuate the effect. The colors also transport you back into the 70s primarily with the use of jungle green fatigues.
Imperium #10 delves into Toyo Harada’s past to showcase his war against the Vine plantings and build up the tension for the ensuing fight. There are some good character moments and the writing is once again well done, although some may not like it due to the heavy use of narration. Cafu’s artwork was for the most part solid with some excellent renderings of true terror. If you are looking to learn more about Toyo Harada’s past you can’t miss this one.
- Good compare and contrast with Sunlight on Snow and LV-99
- A look into Harada's past experiences with the Vine
- The narrative is written in a way that makes it feel like Tess Solomon is talking to you
- The narrative can drag on at points
- The exploding head that looks like tomato paste