Comic Book Review: Imperium #12
With Imperium #12 comes the finale to The Vine Imperative. In my opinion the best story arc so far for this series. The Broken Angel storyline really toyed with the horror that Imperium has to offer, but The Vine Imperium took things a step further. Which is great because we need to see how far Harada is willing to go for his ideals, and how willing the rest of the world is to stop him. And for the Vine Collective that means sending their most lethal agent, LV-99 to destroy the Foundation from the inside.
Picking up from where the previous issue ended things are as intense as you’d expect with LV-99 tearing through Mech Major and the rest to get to Harada. The reason I say this story arc takes a step forward is because LV-99 is horror. Letting him off his leash is horror with everything he has ever said or done so far. And he is showing just why he is someone to be feared as he makes his demands for the vault to be opened. Somehow LV-99 manages to be a creature you sympathize with. Not that he needs to be, but as a creation treated as a weapon, and for what happens to him after he completes his mission you feel bad because the realization of ones true existence can be shattering. We got to dig into his psyche which was nothing as expected from what was assumed to just be brainwashing.
The transition between past and present has been flawless for The Vine Imperative. Giving us so much from and present, while also so much from the past to understand why these things are happening. You could easily just say that Harada has been slaughtering Plantings over a prophecy he heard about them, but where is the substance in that? Here we get to relive those years of pain, torture, and fear that they have had to live with as Harada did everything in his power to push them to extinction. Where LV-99 is the face of horror in the present, this younger and more rash Harada is the face of horror in the past. And the perspective of this story told of the past makes it that much stronger considering this information is shared with the intent on trying to make one last attempt on Harada’s life after so many failures.
Both stories really bridged together fluently when it came to that moment where it was truly time for action. There are many ways in which this conflict could have progressed and ended, and Dysart went with the best possible ending. No one truly wins in a war like this and from that came the natural reality of what one sacrifices for the sake of the future.
Whether it was in the past or the present, this was an astonishing tale told through the art team. A past drawn by Juan Jose Ryp which highlighted the life of despair the Plantings were thrown into by Harada all those years. A past through the eyes of LV-99 which highlighted what could have been for this weapon of mass destruction if he had his own choice in how he wanted to live his life. Then we have a present full of tension when everything boils down to an all or nothing assault. The Vine Imperative was a stronger war put together than even the Harbinger War against Rising Spirit. So much more could be felt through a story visualized from genuine personal stakes. This was about a group of people who fought out of fear, and anger, all which was etched across the faces of those who this affected the most. The colors were a great aid in this as well to bring out the mood and set the atmosphere for the tone this story carried. Especially when it came to the more pale colors for those moments where things seemed bleak. Aside from that Ulises Arreola has consistently done a great job with texture creation through colors as well.
This will be a memorable story arc for Imperium because at the end of the day this was a good look at the type of person Harada really is now. He is still a monster in his own right, and the same can be said for LV-99, though now there is more of a grasp as to the type of world Harada aims to create after his confrontation with the Plantings.