This week sees the release of a brand new Image trade collection for one of their newer titles, Invisible Republic by Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko. Described as a science fiction political comic on the back, what does this intriguing and critically praised book have to offer us? Is it good?
Invisible Republic Vol. 1 (Image Comics)
On a distant moon of a planet, everything has fallen apart. The leader of this civilization, Arthur McBride, has disappeared and his regime has collapsed in on itself. Everything is chaos and deteriorating, with many people fleeing the world for a new start elsewhere. No one seems to know what really happened or just doesn’t want to talk, frustrating a reporter named Croger Bobb. However, one day he finds a journal. A journal that may reveal the lost, true history of McBride and how he came into power from the point of view of an unknown cousin of his named Maia.
Invisible Republic Vol. 1 is one of the strongest stories I’ve read all year from Image Comics. The comic is structured into two separate parts: The first part focuses on Croger as he tries to learn the backstory and secret history behind the former ruler of this world, encountering many obstacles and unknown foes. It’s tense and thrilling and it pulls you into the story. The second part focuses on Maia and her time before her cousin rose to power, seeing what ultimately set him off and trying to deal with what happens next as they become fugitives. This part is thrilling at times, but focuses more on a human element, seeing what she has to deal with and the problems she encounters. Combined, both halves of the comic work very well, going together like peanut butter and jelly to make a filling treat.
Mechanically, the story has some rather awkward transitions and flow that make things feel disjointed from time to time. Sometimes, the comic will cut during a scene to jump to another one, whether it be in the present or the past. It makes the story, as good as it is, frustrating to read at times since you end up having to flip back or reread a page to make sure you didn’t miss anything. The characters are fine and there’s some pretty decent characterization throughout. While the second part is technically stronger in character development (though primarily just focusing on Maia), the primary part of the story in the present goes for more subtle development. Croger’s past isn’t usually spelled out for you and you have to read into some of the things he says for you to get a better understanding of him, which I can appreciate. The dialogue and narration usually hit, but there are occasionally some spots where they sound a little forced and stilted. Nothing awful, but these parts can end up sounding unnatural.
The artwork is dreary, gritty-looking, and often is covered in dark and murky coloring. The thing is though… that is perfect for this kind of comic. The artwork complements the story very well, really building this idea of a world that has fallen apart and has become so dirty and depressing. This style brings this world to life in all the right ways, allowing you to believe in this world and see people are so upset about everything. Heck, the art even does a good job of making places look livable and lively before things went to hell. The characters look good as well (though at some points some may look a bit similar to others), and action feels intense. It’s artwork that is not my personal cup of tea, but I can’t imagine a more fitting style and look to this book than what Gabriel Hardman has produced here.
Is It Good?
Invisible Republic Vol. 1 is an excellent comic with a strong and thrilling story, with some good artwork and mystery to it. The writing could have used a bit more tweaking to iron out some kinks in it. Regardless, if you are looking for a good political thriller with a sci-fi twist to it, this is definitely worth a look.