Review: The Life And Death Of Toyo Harada #2

The deadly campaign of the most powerful psiot in the Valiant Universe continues! 

In the present: Toyo Harada finds himself and The Foundation Zone under attack by a coalition of world governments, as one of his own teammates begins to turn on him. In the past: Toyo Harada escapes Japan aboard a fishing vessel, and sets sail for the new world.

Lightening struck with the first issue of The Life And Death Of Toyo Harada, and while I obviously hoped to be shocked through my bones again when opening this issue, I was prepared to be a touch let down. I honestly wasn’t prepared to be hit once again with a bolt from the skies. That the comic opens amidst a raging storm, complete with some incredibly atmospheric artwork, was nothing but a wonderful coincidence.

The opening to the second issue is breathtaking in what it achieves within a handful of pages. Joshua Dysart explores blind faith in a messianic figure, the insignificance of man and the frailty of the human condition as a Toyo Harada becomes aware of what he’s going to be capable of.

I’ve honestly read this book three times since I’ve had a digital copy in my inbox, and each time the comic drew my attention in more completely than the last

Toyo Harada is the kind of character that doesn’t come around often, and when they do, they’re always divisively popular as they begin to make one question whether they are truly villainous or merely driven by their goals. Harada was often framed as the villain in Harbinger, though one can argue that was simply because of the side of the story we were following, rather than the character being evil (again, there’s the divisive aspect of the man – there are more times than not that I find myself agreeing with his goals, but not always his methods). As Alan Moore wrote in Watchmen “I understand. Without condoning or condemning, I understand.”

This is a complicated character who lives in the moral and ethical grey area, and Joshua Dysart doesn’t tell you how to feel about Harada; allowing the reader to come to their own determination as to whether he’s the hero, villain or somewhere in between. It’s this decision to allow you to form your own opinion, or to reinforce an already formed opinion, that’s a personal highlight.

Artistically, this book is just as wonderful as the first issue. Cafu is joined this issue by Butch Guice, and the two artists create a visual epic that dances between the deepest of human emotions and the serenity of unaided flight. There’s honestly very little about this issue that I can fault (and even that would be a stretch at this point), because between the artistic team and Dysart, Valiant have published the second issue in a pretty freaking amazing series.

Although it’s still (probably) too early to call this series a masterpiece, I’m getting a lot closer to using that word as an actual descriptor for this book. The Life And Death Of Toyo Harada is a series to make other publishers jealous.

Story: Joshua Dysart Art: Cafu with Butch Guice
Colours: Andrew Dalhouse and Dan Brown Letters: Dave Sharpe
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.4 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided a FREE copy for review, but this is a book I’ll be buying when it hits the racks.