Tag Archives: imperium

The Thin Line Between Good And Evil: Toyo Harada

When you look at the typical comic book bad guy, there is often a clear cut case of black and white. Hero and villain. Good verses evil. This is never clearer when it comes to the Joker, or Sabretooth (although that has been known to be more in flux over the last half decade or so).  However with some antagonists it can be a bit murkier, sometimes a villain’s motivations are almost understandable when you take a moment to remove yourself from the hero’s narrative. When you look at the antagonist’s motivation removed from the protagonist’s story you can begin to see that when experienced from a different angle, these characters wouldn’t be seen as villains.

The Thin Line Between Good And Evil aims to take a look at the characters traditionally portrayed as villains within the world of nerd culture, primarily comics, and explore if it were their story we were reading, whether the villain would instead be seen as a hero.

Toyo Harada

This month, in honour of Valiant’s Hero Of The Week event, we’re taking a look at Toyo Harada.

At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking that Toyo Harada is just your standard evil overlord/CEO, but that would be doing a huge disservice to the character. Instead, it’d be slight more accurate to suggest he’s a blend of Professor Xavier and Magneto, but only in broad strokes.

Harada is a rare psiot born with incredible telepathic and telekinetic powers; within the Valiant Universe, most psiots are dormant until they’re activated – usually by an incredibly painful and risky procedure – but very few, often the most powerful, are born with their abilities activated. Harada’s abilities were activated by the nucleor weapon dropped on Hiroshima, and this understandably shaped a lot of the man he would become (explored in detail during The Life And Death Of Toyo Harada, though it is touched upon in Harbinger and Imperium briefly).

Toyo Harada is arguably one of Valiant Entertainment’s more complex characters. He is a Psiot using his incredible telekinetic and telepathic powers in order to shape the world into a better place for everyone by using his company’s immense wealth for philanthropic efforts. Harada’s methods haven’t always been perfectly angelic, and he exemplifies the phrase “the end justifies the means.” But his heart has always been in the right place.. his end goal is to end war, to which he conquered a small country… and then tried to turn it into a Utopian free state (in Imperium).

Toyo Harada

The more you learn about Toyo Harada, the more you realize that he’s far from an evil man. He spent decades trying to influence political policy, gradually and gently nudging the world in the direction of a Utopian future while gathering and training the smartest minds and craftspeople of their generation to further the technologies that humanity will come to rely on.

Only for some ungrateful little drug addict that wants to start to tear down everything you’ve worked for (which you can read all about in Harbinger). Now it wasn’t all Peter Stanchek’s fault; circumstances didn’t quite favour Harada. He’d spread himself too thin, and eventually the final straw landed upon his back and things started to fall apart, but one has to wonder whether things would have been different if not for Stancheck. Whether Harada could have continued to guide the world in the shadows rather than forcibly showing governments how to create a self sustaining society.

But this column isn’t about recapping the man’s history; there’s a great resource here if that’s all you want to know, or you can check out the links below with the first volume of Harbinger, which kicks the saga off.

Instead, we’re here to look at why Toyo Harada is considered a villain, and I genuinely think it’s because of how he’s been framed in stories. When reading Harbinger, you’re following the story of Peter Stanchek and the Renegades. In X-O Manowar and Unity you’re naturally rooting for X-O because of Harada’s desire to acquire the armour whilst also preventing a cataclysmic confrontation.

Toyo Harada

If it wasn’t for that, and his penchant for making some questionable decisions in pursuit of (what he believes to be) the greater good, then I’m sure I wouldn’t be alone in viewing Toyo Harada as Valiant’s greatest hero. He’s doing what he feels he needs to do to save the world, despite our best efforts to the contrary. He’s been working for decades to make the world a better place, and in the grander scope of things he forms the question: can we save ourselves, even if we wanted to?

That’s what this really comes down to; as a global society, are we really capable of lifting the most unfortunate and desperate members up and coming together to save ourselves? Toyo Harada clearly doesn’t think so, and I’m inclined to agree with him. Toyo Harada is the villain we need to save our world.

And he’ll do it, by any means necessary.


Read the start of Toyo Harada’s story here:

Purchase: Amazon – Kindle – comiXology – TFAWBookshop

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

Underrated: Imperium

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: the comic book Imperium


When Valiant Entertainment relaunched in 2012, one of the four books that the publisher started with was Harbinger. Arguably one of Valiant’s signature books, the original series launched in the 90’s with the publisher’s first incarnation. I have never read the 90’s series in full, but have dabbled in an issue here or there (specifically the two that contained chapters of the multi-book crossover Unity). I have, however, read the entirety of the modern Harbinger run, and own a smattering of individual comics and the three deluxe hardcovers containing the story; Harbinger Deluxe Edition One, Harbinger  Deluxe Edition  Two and Harbinger Wars 
Deluxe Edition. Until very recently, I had not read Imperium. While I have had access to the review copies for years, I had long decided that I would rather read the story in print form so I was waiting to pick up the deluxe hard cover edition of Imperium from my LCS. A couple weeks ago, I finally ordered it.

It cost me $65 before taxes and it was worth every penny.

There are easy comparisons to make between the Harbinger story and that of the X-Men, between Toyo Harada and Magneto; an incredibly powerful man who wants peace at any cost. The truth is when I was reading the book there are obvious similarities to the X-Books. Especially now that the X-Men have their own nation state, which is where Imperium finds Toyo Harada and his Foundation.

Joshua Dysart pulls the sixteen issue story in from various places in the Valiant universe, touching upon characters that will be familiar if you have read the previous Harbinger run that I spoke about (again) last week. If you haven’t read those books it shouldn’t be a big deal – the story is told in a way that it can be read alone, but you’ll miss out on some context here and there (and a great build up) if you skip what came before.

Watching Harada build his nation state free of scarcity while fighting the countries that are trying to stop him over the course of sixteen issues is fascinating. We watch him take some extraordinary measures to ensure that he is left alone, and we wonder whether the man is truly as philanthropic and good as his ideal seems or is he as self serving as he sometimes appears?

Although the book is told from Harada’s perspective Dysart never quite leaves you confident that you should be rooting exclusively for him. Should he be stopped? Or does his means justify the ends?

What makes this such a great story is that Dysart has balanced the antagonists so well that nobody seems to be explicitly evil aside from a certain corporation out exclusively for profit, which illustrates the nobility behind Harada’s ideal while underscoring the capitalist nature of our society. There are so many different aspects to this story; the concept of artificial intelligence becoming sentient, does anybody ever truly have free will, the balance of sacrifice for progression of the greater good. What devils do you have to make a deal with?

When it comes to everybody else in this book you have to wonder whether you should root for anyone.

Joshua Dysart’s writing will educate you, encouraging you to think and develop yourself all while delivering one of the greatest stories in comics. That sentence was as true for Harbinger as it is for Imperium. He has a unique ability to distill a greater political and ideological idea down into a story that will never overwhelm a reader but also leaves you thinking about the nature of the politics involved long after the cover has been closed.

Whether this story is one told from the villain’s perspective as he tries to achieve his goals having convinced his followers they are doing the right thing or if it is story about a hero who faces insurmountable odds as he tries to make the world a better place will differ on how you read the book.

And that, for me, makes it an utter masterpiece.

This series is the subject of today’s Underrated because I had long heard how brilliant the story was from others who have read the book so I ended up reading the full run in almost a single sitting. And I realized that I seldom hear people talk about Valiant’s Harbinger comics or Toyo Harada. I hope that changes. Especially after the last week with the publisher focusing on the character this week.

Valiant Hero Of The Week: Toyo Harada

Every Monday for the next few weeks, Valiant Entertainment is running a poll on Twitter to provide fans with some escapism while new comics are in short supply. The poll allows Valiant fans the opportunity to select the “Hero Of The Week” from four choices. That week’s hero will then be the focus of free pdfs featuring the character, videos from Valiant staff, giveaways, and more. This week, the poll featured Toyo Harada, Father, Eidolon and Master Darque.

Valiant Hero of the Week

This week’s winner was…

Toyo Harada

Toyo Harada

Who is he? One of the most complicated and interesting characters in comics, this is a man who has lived through utter horror and who just happens to be one of the most powerful people in the world. Toyo Harada is the kind of character that lives in the moral grey area; more often than not, I’ve found myself actually agreeing with and rooting for him, because his entire raison d’etre is to secure peace and improve the lives of people at any cost. Initially, he’s subtle and manipulates world events behind the scenes… but eventually Toyo Harada wages war on the world. He’s introduced in Harbinger, and so a lot of the stories that you’ve seen recommended in Peter Stanchek‘s spotlight you could expect to see for Toyo Harada.

What should you read?

Here’s the thing to be aware of here; Joshua Dysart’s epic run with the character starts in volume one of Harbinger. If you jump into the story later on, it will be tough to enjoy it and/or get. So when I’m recommending the first book below, I’m actually encouraging you to read the entire story that spreads across Imperium and The Life And Death Of Toyo Harada. You can read those two series independently, but this is a story designed to be read in publication order. That said, I’ll still include the opening trade to Imperium and the Life And Death trade below.

Harbinger: Omega Rising

A better future. Or no future at all.

Harbinger: Omega Rising

Super-powered teenager Peter Stanchek is on a dangerous path. Skipping across the country in a desperate attempt to stay one step ahead of the authorities, Peter is quickly realizing that he’s a psionically-charged “harbinger” with the potential to reshape the course of human history. But Peter’s plight has not gone unnoticed. Respected philanthropist and fellow harbinger Toyo Harada is about to offer Peter the chance at the things for which the boy has always longed — family, inner peace, self-control — and induct him into the sprawling, secret network of conspiracy and subversion known as the Harbinger Foundation. Now Peter begins his long road towards a destiny that will shake the very foundations of the Valiant Universe. His first lesson? All power comes with a price.


This volume kicks off an epic tale by Joshua Dysart that spans Harbinger and Imperium, and because I devoured the first twenty issues in two days I don’t really remember exactly what happened in the first volume, so I took the above text directly from Valiant’s website.

Purchase: Amazon – Kindle – comiXology – TFAWBookshop

Imperium: Collecting Monsters

A psychic dictator, an inhuman robot, a mad scientist, a murderous alien, and a superpowered terrorist are about to try and take over the world…and you’re going to be rooting for them every step of the way!

Imperium: Collecting Monsters

Toyo Harada is the most dangerous human being on the planet. Imbued with incredible powers of the mind, he has spent his life guiding humanity from the shadows. But today he is a wanted man. His powers are public knowledge, his allies have turned to enemies, and he is hunted by every government on the planet. Instead of surrendering, Harada has one last unthinkable gambit to play: to achieve more, faster, and with less, he will build a coalition of the powerful, the unscrupulous, and the insane. No longer content to demand a better future, he will recruit a violent legion from the darkest corners of the Earth to fight for it. The battle for utopia begins now! 


This is honestly one of my favourite Valiant stories. It tells the tale of Toyo Harada’s attempt to create a paradise for those willing to work. Yes, he invaded a country to do so, but his goal is to create a world without hunger and sickness. By any means necessary.

Purchase: AmazonKindlecomiXologyTFAWBookshop

The Life And Death Of Toyo Harada

In 1945, the bombing of Hiroshima awakened an immense and terrifying power inside young Toyo Harada, a power that he could one day use to build a better world.

With the existence of superpowered psiots revealed to the world and his Harbinger Foundation left in ruins, Harada has been run to ground, and the world’s most powerful man is about to become its most dangerous…

Eisner Award-nominated writer Joshua Dysart (HARBINGER) returns to the Valiant Universe alongside CAFU (RAI) and a lineup of all-star Valiant artists for a sweeping, continent-spanning chronicle of Toyo Harada’s last gambit to remake Earth in his own utopian image…or sacrifice everything in the process.


The culmination of Joshua Dysart’s run with the character, this is a great story if you haven’t read the other book, but it’s beyond compare if you have.

Purchase: AmazonKindlecomiXologyTFAWBookshop


It’s worth noting that you can get Deluxe Editions of many of these stories that collect what amounts to three trades in a hardcover. They are comparatively better valued, but present a higher initial cost (based on standard retail pricing not including sales and discounts). They’re my personal preference.


This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

Underrated: Imperium

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: the comic book Imperium


When Valiant Entertainment relaunched in 2012, one of the four books that the publisher started with was Harbinger. Arguably one of Valiant’s signature books, the original series launched in the 90’s with the publisher’s first incarnation. I have never read the 90’s series in full, but have dabbled in an issue here or there (specifically the two that contained chapters of the multi-book crossover Unity). I have, however, read the entirety of the modern Harbinger run, and own a smattering of individual comics and the three deluxe hardcovers containing the story; Harbinger Deluxe Edition One, Harbinger  Deluxe Edition  Two and Harbinger Wars 
Deluxe Edition. Until very recently, I had not read Imperium. While I have had access to the review copies for years, I had long decided that I would rather read the story in print form so I was waiting to pick up the deluxe hard cover edition of Imperium from my LCS. A couple weeks ago, I finally ordered it.

It cost me $65 before taxes and it was worth every penny.

There are easy comparisons to make between the Harbinger story and that of the X-Men, between Toyo Harada and Magneto; an incredibly powerful man who wants peace at any cost. The truth is when I was reading the book there are obvious similarities to the X-Books. Especially now that the X-Men have their own nation state, which is where Imperium finds Toyo Harada and his Foundation.

Joshua Dysart pulls the sixteen issue story in from various places in the Valiant universe, touching upon characters that will be familiar if you have read the previous Harbinger run that I spoke about (again) last week. If you haven’t read those books it shouldn’t be a big deal – the story is told in a way that it can be read alone, but you’ll miss out on some context here and there (and a great build up) if you skip what came before.

Watching Harada build his nation state free of scarcity while fighting the countries that are trying to stop him over the course of sixteen issues is fascinating. We watch him take some extraordinary measures to ensure that he is left alone, and we wonder whether the man is truly as philanthropic and good as his ideal seems or is he as self serving as he sometimes appears?

Although the book is told from Harada’s perspective Dysart never quite leaves you confident that you should be rooting exclusively for him. Should he be stopped? Or does his means justify the ends?

What makes this such a great story is that Dysart has balanced the antagonists so well that nobody seems to be explicitly evil aside from a certain corporation out exclusively for profit, which illustrates the nobility behind Harada’s ideal while underscoring the capitalist nature of our society. There are so many different aspects to this story; the concept of artificial intelligence becoming sentient, does anybody ever truly have free will, the balance of sacrifice for progression of the greater good. What devils do you have to make a deal with?

When it comes to everybody else in this book you have to wonder whether you should root for anyone.

Joshua Dysart’s writing will educate you, encouraging you to think and develop yourself all while delivering one of the greatest stories in comics. That sentence was as true for Harbinger as it is for Imperium. He has a unique ability to distill a greater political and ideological idea down into a story that will never overwhelm a reader but also leaves you thinking about the nature of the politics involved long after the cover has been closed.

Whether this story is one told from the villain’s perspective as he tries to achieve his goals having convinced his followers they are doing the right thing or if it is story about a hero who faces insurmountable odds as he tries to make the world a better place will differ on how you read the book.

And that, for me, makes it an utter masterpiece.

This series is the subject of today’s Underrated because I had long ehard how brilliant the story was from others who have read the book so I ended up reading the full run in almost a single sitting. And I realized that I seldom hear people talk about Valiant’s Harbinger comics, or Toyo Harada. I hope that changes.

Preview: Imperium #16

IMPERIUM #16

Written by JOSHUA DYSART
Art by KHARI EVANS
Cover A by CLAYTON HENRY (MAR161836)
Cover B by DIEGO BERNARD (MAR161837)
Variant Cover by ZACH MONTOYA (MAR161838)
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On sale MAY 25 (FOC – 5/2/16)

“STORMBREAK” explodes!

Toyo Harada has gone to war to save his vision of world peace from the twin threats of his former protégé Livewire and Major Charlie Palmer’s H.A.R.D. Corps! Amid the chaos, the tables have turned…and now, members of Harada’s own team are angling to knife each other in the back! When the villains trying to save humanity fight their noblest instincts and the heroes who are trying to stop them struggle against their own demons…can anybody win?

And, now, even as the walls of Harada’s IMPERIUM begin to the fall, the seeds of his biggest strike yet are already being sown…

IMPERIUM_016_COVER-A_HENRY

Preview: Imperium #15

IMPERIUM #15

Written by JOSHUA DYSART
Art by KHARI EVANS
Cover A by KHARI EVANS (FEB161911)
Cover B by ROBERT GILL (FEB161912)
Variant Cover by MING DOYLE (FEB161913)
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ |On sale APRIL 27 (FOC – 4/4/16)
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On sale APRIL 27

Desperate times for Toyo Harada as “STORMBREAK” rages on!

Harada’s vision to save the world faces catastrophic failure as the Foundation Zone finds itself squeezed between the armies of the world. Now, at his weakest point, the allied forces led by Livewire and H.A.R.D. Corps’ Major Charlie Palmer conspire to hit him hard and fast on every front. But with Harada’s team of monsters starting to turn on each other, does this super-powered mastermind stand any chance of winning the fight?

New York Times best-selling writer Joshua Dysart (Unknown Soldier) and Harvey Award-nominated artist Khari Evans (HARBINGER) push the clock one minute closer to midnight for the most dangerous man in the Valiant Universe!

IMPERIUM_0015_COVER-A_EVANS

Preview: Imperium #14

IMPERIUM #14

Written by JOSHUA DYSART
Art by KHARI EVANS
Cover A by GIUSEPPE CAMUNCOLI (JAN161766)
Cover B by CAFU (JAN161767)
Variant Cover by JUAN JOSÉ RYP (JAN161768)
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On sale MARCH 16

“STORMBREAK” – PART 2! Toyo Harada has brought war to the Foundation Zone…and Livewire and H.A.R.D. Corps are manning the frontline!

To his enemies, Harada is a despotic madman with a messiah complex. But to countless refugees and subjects of tyranny, Harada has been a savior and a benevolent provider. Now his world-changing Foundation Zone has grown faster than even he planned for. With diseases to cure, mouths to feed…and all of humanity to save…Harada will go to war against former allies and longtime enemies. At stake? The resources he needs for the Foundation Zone to succeed. In the balance? Everything Harada has ever built and fought for.

IMPERIUM_014_COVER-A_CAMUNCOLI

Preview: Imperium #13

IMPERIUM #13 (NEW ARC! “STORMBREAK” – PART 1)

Written by JOSHUA DYSART
Art by KHARI EVANS
Cover A by ROBERT GILL (DEC151658)
Cover B by CAFU (DEC151659)
Valiant x CGC Replica Variant by CLAYTON HENRY (DEC151660)
Variant Cover by RYAN LEE (DEC151661)
Variant Cover by JUAN JOSE RYP (DEC151662)
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On sale FEBRUARY 17

ALL-NEW ARC! JUMP ON BOARD HERE! “STORMBREAK” is about to bombard the front lines of the Valiant Universe!

The world’s most powerful team of mercenaries is on the defense…as an elite international kill squad led by Livewire and H.A.R.D. Corps’ Major Charlie Palmer descends to destroy Imperium’s stronghold!

Toyo Harada will save the world…if he doesn’t doom it first. The revolutionary disruption that Harada and his team have launched – by deposing tyrants, housing refugees, and feeding the poor – has come at the expense of the world’s wealthiest nations. When the planet’s leaders have had enough, it will be decided: Toyo Harada must die. Now a crack unit of operatives will stand against Harada on the global stage…with his own former pupil Livewire taking him head-on. Meanwhile, Harada’s military lieutenant Gravedog meets his match when Palmer drops into the firefight of a lifetime…H.A.R.D. Corps vs. H.A.R.D. Corps!

The war starts here as New York Times best-selling writer Joshua Dysart (HARBINGER WARS) and Harvey Award-nominated artist Khari Evans (HARBINGER, Immortal Iron Fist) unite for an explosive new jumping-on point…pitting the Valiant Universe’s notorious team of monsters and revolutionaries against the very system they’ve sworn to overthrow!

IMPERIUM_013_COVER-A_GILL

Preview: Imperium #12

IMPERIUM #12

Written by JOSHUA DYSART
Art by CAFU and JUAN JOSE RYP
Cover A by CAFU (NOV151721)
Cover B by HOWARD CHAYKIN (NOV151722)
Variant Cover by JEFTE PALO (NOV151723)
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On sale JANUARY 20

“THE VINE IMPERATIVE” – FINALE! Spy vs. superhuman!

Toyo Harada’s utopian ambition has been shaken to the depths by a decades-old enemy. Since the day Harada began accruing power, the undercover agents of the Vine’s alien empire have watched…and waited. Years later, as Harada strives to reshape the global economy, establish governments friendly to his goals, and gift the ability of space travel to all humankind, the Vine want him put in check – permanently. Now, with saboteurs riddling his organization and the alien assassin called LV-99 slavering to snap his master’s neck…are the Vine about to succeed?

IMPERIUM_012_COVER-A_CAFU

Livewire Charges into “Stormbreak” for Imperium #13 – An All-New Jumping-On Point

Valiant has released a first look inside Imperium #13 – the FIRST ISSUE of “Stormbreak,” an all-new story arc reuniting Harbinger‘s Joshua Dysart and Khari Evans! On February 17th, the series unleashes a devastating new jumping-on point as the Valiant Universe comes raging to the doorstep of Toyo Harada’s utopia…with Livewire and H.A.R.D. Corps leading the charge to unseat the world’s most powerful superhuman!

Toyo Harada will save the world…if he doesn’t doom it first. The revolutionary disruption that Harada and his team have launched – by deposing tyrants, housing refugees, and feeding the poor – has come at the expense of the world’s wealthiest nations. When the planet’s leaders have had enough, it will be decided: Toyo Harada must die. Now a crack unit of operatives will stand against Harada on the global stage…with his own former pupil Livewire taking him head-on. Meanwhile, Harada’s military lieutenant Gravedog meets his match when Charlie Palmer drops into the firefight of a lifetime…H.A.R.D. Corps vs. H.A.R.D. Corps!

Featuring covers by acclaimed artists Robert Gill, CAFU, Clayton Henry, Ryan Lee, and Juan Jose Ryp. The team behind Harbinger returns to lay waste to Toyo Harada’s besieged empire…and ready the world for the biggest dogfight of the New Year!

IMPERIUM #13 (NEW ARC! “STORMBREAK” – PART 1)
Written by JOSHUA DYSART
Art by KHARI EVANS
Cover A by ROBERT GILL (DEC151658)
Cover B by CAFU (DEC151659)
Valiant x CGC Replica Variant by CLAYTON HENRY (DEC151660)
Variant Cover by RYAN LEE (DEC151661)
Variant Cover by JUAN JOSE RYP (DEC151662)
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On Sale FEBRUARY 17 (FOC – 1/25/16)

IMPERIUM_013_COVER-A_GILL

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