A focus on character development with some deep philosophical underpinnings shape Imperium #3. Is it good?
Imperium #3 (Valiant Entertainment)
Joshua Dysart continues with a very similar storytelling concept, focusing on character development and interactions to give them personality and flesh out who they are, while slowly building to an action-packed climax. He does an excellent job of building up Sunlight on Snow and Toyo Harada. Dysart bounces them off each other to provide contrast, but also separates them to further focus on certain aspects of their character. He does an excellent job of switching between Harada and Sunlight on Snow; he lets you in on just enough for you to want to learn more and then switches to the other character who happens to be just as fascinating but in a polar opposite way.
The development of Sunlight on Snow’s character is especially intriguing since Dysart uses another non-human to parallel Sunlight on Snow’s own origins. It turns a metallic, multi-eyed artificial intelligence into a caring, sympathetic and even tragic figure. You want to give him a hug and be his friend. On the other hand, Harada is emotionless, ruthless. He cares only for his designs on the world which makes him razor-focused and intimidating.
Doug Braithwaite’s artwork is really good. There is a panel where Sunlight on Snow is describing why he chose the name and the picture fits his words perfectly. It is gorgeous to look at. He is able to capture the beauty of a snow-covered mountain range and overlay it within the metallic body of Sunlight on Snow. He continues to use the slanted panel shapes to denote action which quickens the pace and adds the illusion of movement. It is interesting to note that when Harada and Sunlight on Snow are depicted together in the same panel, Harada is always in a position of power, usually being depicted standing above Sunlight on Snow despite the huge height advantage Sunlight on Snow has. Braithwaite mainly stays inside the box for most of his panel layouts, primarily deviating during action sequences with the slanted panels. However, there is one three-panel set which stood out by the fact it appeared as if it was made of glass and it was being shattered. It was an excellent choice and highlighted the fact the character’s mind was being shattered along with the panels.
Dave Sharpe’s lettering was highly enjoyable from the very mechanical, robotic font for Sunlight on Snow to the yellow outline on the word bubbles to denote Harada telepathically communicating; these are small details that highlight a diverse world.
Is It Good?
The character development of Sunlight on Snow and Harada combined with Braithwaite’s artwork made for an outstanding book. Sunlight on Snow’s dilemma was highlighted not only through his own narration, but through the emergence of a new character with an extremely similar beginning but with a polar opposite nature. Dysart asked interesting questions on what it means to be alive and the difference between man and machine. The character development hid the slow build-up towards a convergent action sequence highlighting the excellent pacing. This was the best installment yet. I look forward to more of Sunlight on Snow!