The Life and Death of Toyo Harada No. 2 review: The Angela Vessel


Toyo Harada may be the most powerful psiot in the world, but that doesn’t mean others won’t attempt to rise against him. Can he stop them in time?

The Life and Death of Toyo Harada No. 2

Writer: Joshua Dysart

Artist: Cafu, Butch Guice

The Life and Death of Toyo Harada No. 2 variant cover by B Ollivetii (Credit: Valiant Comics)

In the first issue of The Life and Death of Toyo Harada, the villainous protagonist appeared to be getting ahead of himself. Toyo’s power trip blinded him from the devious intentions of one of his own team – the Angela Vessel. In The Life and Death of Toyo Harada No. 2, readers learn more about Toyo’s rise to power as well as the Angela Vessel’s motivations.

In the past, Toyo Harada is just a young man, but his power makes him a veritable god. He easily wows a Japanese ship of sailors, but what is his mission? Toyo is on the search for something, or someone – and his immortality means that nothing will stop him from finding his quarry. It’s hard for a god-like psiot to fathom the fragility of mere mortals.

In the present timeline of The Life and Death of Toyo Harada No. 2, Toyo’s Harada Foundation is being hounded by government organizations from around the world. All Toyo Harada wants is for world peace, but his methods are questionable. The Rising Spirit – whose main aim is to bring down Harada – has now found an ally that could give them the upper hand.

It’s a wily game of subterfuge in this installment as each side tries to dupe the other. Who will come out victorious? Is it Harada, the Angela Vessel or Rising Spirit?

We received an early working copy of The Life and Death of Toyo Harada No. 2, so it isn’t possible to comment on the art as yet. The story seemed less focused in this issue, careening between ideas and characters. There was a coherency to the first installment that excited the reader, but here it feels like writer Joshua Dysart is attempting to cram in as much information as possible given the limited nature of the series. The end result is far too much exposition in an otherwise well-written book.

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While the fictional world that has been built by Valiant over the years is apparent in The Life and Death of Toyo Harada No. 2, what it lacks is a more in-depth look at its protagonist. Some of the more interesting aspects and motivations of Harada have been glossed over. He has a long history in comic books, but for new readers, Harada may come across as a two-dimensional megalomaniac, which defeats the purpose of creating a separate series about him.

What was most disturbing in The Life and Death of Toyo Harada No. 2 is the Angela Vessel’s motivations. She is a scientist and has a specific experiment in mind – this experiment of hers is one that has cropped up in numerous science-fiction properties over the years. Without giving away any spoilers, one has to wonder, why are scientists in science-fiction so obsessed with women’s reproduction? It is a misogynistic objectification of women that should really be erased from pop culture. We have seen versions of this in Blade Runner 2049 and Battlestar Galactica (to name a couple). What the Angela Vessel specifically wishes to accomplish is unknown, but the methods themselves are distressing to behold.

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This book felt a bit rushed and haphazard. One would have expected a more streamlined approach to an enigmatic, though evil character. The rest of the series still has a lot to cover, but one can hope the editing team takes a moment to reflect on who Toyo Harada is as a person rather than how he can propel the plot forward.

Valiant Comics’ The Life and Death of Toyo Harada No. 2 is out on April 10.