Publisher: Image Comics
Writers: Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko
Artist: Gabriel Hardman
Colourist: Jordan Boyd
Design: Dylan Todd
Don’t you love the smell of a new series? I can’t actually smell anything because as a swanky comic book reviewer, I’m reading it in PDF. Bow before my electronic literature, peasants! So, where were we? Ah yes, Invisible Republic, the new series from husband and with duo Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko. Described as an “epic, political sci-fi conspiracy thriller”, you might’ve guessed that this series has got a lot of work to do if it wants to earn that first adjective (I’m not giving them away). So in a startlingly original move, Invisible Republic begins with issue 1. This issue has a lot to set up and we find ourselves on the moon or planet (it can’t seem to make up its mind) Avalon. The year is 2843 and Avalon has been around for a while, having been colonised in the pre-FTL days. All of this serves to give Avalon the look of an essentially present day Earth. Uh huh, well that’s pretty imaginative I guess and while I’m at it did I mention that I’m 6’ 3’’ and Afro-Caribbean in appearance but just happen to look like a 5’ 2’’ white guy? Everyone quickly put on their gritty realism hats and prepare to act sensibly.
Invisible Republic is a series that I sense is as much about its universe as it is about its characters. This is a good thing. We find reporter, Croger Babb, searching for a story about the fall of Avalon’s dictatorship: the Mallory Regime. Unfortunately for old Babbs, no one wants to talk about it and it looks like he’s out of luck until he stumbles upon the journal of a woman named Maia Reveron just lying in an alley (do you think this is how the Sun gets all their stories as well?). This opens up a flashback to forty years ago when Avalon was still untouched by all the nasty FTL travel and pretty much isolated from Earth. From this we learn that the story of Maia and her cousin Arthur McBride is going to be the big focus and with them we’ll slowly piece together the history of Avalon. Sounds interesting, right? Well it certainly sounds like it’s going to take quite a few issues (perhaps I will give them that “epic” after all). The narrative is the important thing in this series and there’s a foreboding sense of plot throughout this issue. What I mean by that is that it sets up the series quite well; the right mix of exposition dropping and character building. This isn’t going to be a mad action packed dash to the finish but a slow and gradual increase in intensity. So, Invisible Republic is going to take it slow and all night long but will it call me in the morning or leave me cold and alone like so many other comic book series? You ever get the feeling you spend too much time with comics?
Art in Invisible Republic opts for the realism the plot is trying to portray. It’s very well drawn and matches the tone of what’s going on. The aesthetic of the comic is something I’m unsure of because fashion, architecture and technology don’t seem to have changed much at all in the eight centuries that have passed. I get that the comic is going for gritty realism and I’m a big fan of grit (I love all salt really) but there’s a bunch of people wearing glasses! Jesus, Invisible Republic, 800 years and we haven’t got a cure for astigmatism? I was kinda pinning my hopes on that. Petty whinging aside, I did enjoy the art style in this issue and the dark, bleak colour of battleship grey used to portray a city feeling the cold days of dictatorship pass it by, really worked nicely against the bright, sun-soaked skies of Maia’s memories.
Invisible Republic works well in this issue and leaves the best to last. It slowly builds its world in time with its tension. Without spoilers all I can say is the end leaves enough sexy intrigue hanging over its trousers for me to peak at it as it climbs the stairs to the next issue. How far I’ll follow it up the stairs to receive my sick, plot driven gratification is another story. I suppose that depends on whether Invisible Republic is just some nice underwear or whether it’s got anything packing out those tight jeans. This is one creepy metaphor isn’t it?