I praised Invisible Republic’s debut as being a promising start to what looked to be a great new sci-fi thriller. Now, one month and one interview with the creators later, I’m reading Invisible Republic #2. Will the second issue live up to the high bar set by the first? Is it good?
Invisible Republic #2 (Image Comics)
Just like that, this book took off! Picking up Invisible Republic #2, it felt like I had never stopped reading it. I was sucked right back into Hardman and Bechko’s wonderful new world and felt an immediate reunion with the characters. I attribute this to one of Invisible Republic’s best qualities, its amazing pacing. This book wastes no panels, and every single page packs a ton of story and emotion without feeling like we are overloaded with emotion.
In an April Fool’s episode of Every Frame a Painting, Tony Zhou’s brilliant film analysis webseries, Zhou talks about how the three best words to use in storytelling are but, therefore and meanwhile. These words keep a story progressing in an exciting way, without having to refer back to the “and then” type of storytelling in which events just keep happening in a linear way, which tends to make for a boring story. To explain briefly, “but” shows opposition; one event happens, but another happens to oppose it. “Therefore” is cause and effect; one action has an impact on the rest of the story and the world. “Meanwhile back at the ranch,” as Tony describes it, cuts between two stories.
I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a story more artfully embody these three storytelling techniques. Writer Gabriel Hardman switches between the two narratives seamlessly. As soon as Maia and Arthurs’ story reaches an exciting moment, we get a “meanwhile” switch back to the journalism narrative. And just when we are about to witness the satisfying conclusion of the journalism arc…BAM!…we’re back to Maia and Arthur. In this way the author keeps us flipping the pages, eager to revisit the characters that he’s just abandoned in such a tense moment. Hardman also uses the “therefore” technique at the end of the issue to create an absolutely stunning cliffhanger.
In one of the previews I read for Invisible Republic, the book was compared to Breaking Bad. I thought that was kind of gutsy—Breaking Bad was one of, if not the greatest TV show of all time, and I didn’t really think that any comic or TV show could even come close to its excellence. I’ve been proved wrong: Arthur McBride and Walter White are similarly evil yet smart, and similarly appealing. They both seem to always have a plan, and although they are ruthless, in some way both of them seem to win the audience’s sympathy in an enthralling way. Well, Gabriel Hardman, color me impressed—you have created a character that is comparable to one of the best ever, and that’s not easy to do. Now we just have to wait until the Jesse of the book emerges.
Another storytelling technique that distinguishes Invisible Republic is the different tones in the artwork. I love how artist Corrina Bechko gives a different mood to the present and past scenes. It contributes further to the sense of parallel and two stories running together and completing a full picture. Lastly, some of the closing panels on each page display a lot of emotion; whether it’s the pack of the “dead” flag bearer or Arthur’s reaction to the newscast, it’s all extremely dramatic stuff.
Is It Good?
Invisible Republic is rolling, and I’m loving the ride so far. The characters, the action, the dystopian backdrop…everything about this book pulls you in and doesn’t let go. I’m also so blessed to have met the creators who are charming and super smart as well as extremely talented. I can’t wait for #3!