This is probably the weakest issue of Imperium I’ve read which is really like saying ‘That’s the most disappointing orgasm I’ve ever experienced." Even at its worst I’m still grateful for having experienced it. Going by the last issue I was expecting at least part of one more issue of them either in or dealing with the sub-plot they spent two issues in. I don’t know if that would have made me any happier, but it would at least have made thematic sense. Instead we come across the story en media res with everyone in a shiny forest having gotten everything they’ve ever wanted. That, in itself, seems strange for this series of a-holes being a-holes but for ultimately good purposes. I’m far more used to Toyo Harada striping a sentient being of free will than I am having people finding their happiness. Toyo quickly sees through this and tries to escape the situation at which point we get a glimpse of Divinity, some kind of super powerful being Toyo wants to add to his growing collection of super powered people. Discovering the illusion shunts Toyo into the next illusion where we see him living in his perfect city, the city from the future depicted in the first issue. The narration gets extensive as Toyo tries to determine the nature of the fake world he’s been put in. When he tries to escape he gets told about the dangers of dreaming too big, about how he should accept his limitations and be happy with less. This is probably the only redeeming thing in the issue as we get our most overt glimpse into the inner workings of Toyo Harada. He’s egotistical, ambitious and hard to satisfy. He will accept nothing less than total control of a situation and he’ll only accept that control if he can be in a position of absolute power.
Just as Toyo is about to get through the illusion he is thrust into a different illusion. Or is it illusion? That’s probably the anchor that brings this issue down the most for me. The story is very fluid almost to the point of being inscrutable. At one point Toyo surmises that instead of being in an illusion, Divinity is simply displacing him in time farther and farther from the point where Toyo discovers Divinity. For what reason and to what accomplishment I don’t know. About half way through Toyo states that he needs to find Divinity as much as Divinity needs to be found by Toyo. If that is the case then why would Divinity continue to thwart Toyo’s advances? I found the story just too confusing and jarring with no one scene hanging around long enough to understand what was going on.
The only redeeming factor being the look into the person that is Toyo Harada. The art and writing are done well enough that I can’t justify giving it less than a 3, while the plot may be a bit… "experimental" the writing is still very well done and Scott Eaton’s art brings it all to life. But with the plot being what it is I would bet that you could skip this whole issue and just see how it solves itself in the next issue and not miss much.