Publisher: Image Comics
Writers: Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko
Artist: Gabriel Hardman
Colourist: Jordan Boyd
Design: Dylan Todd
What’s this? Lots of grey and people shouting out the F word occasionally? Must be a new Invisible Republic or a look at a care home for elderly Tourette’s sufferers. Oh, I’m so witty. It’s the former and issue 3 to be precise. Maia and Arthur are even more on the run than last week (y’know, when they were on the run?) because their faces are now plastered across TV with a big sign saying, “likes to murder”. In the future (I’m not explaining it again), Croger is hanging around with a rather serious chap (that joke makes sense if you’ve read this comic) and currently trying to talk his way out of a nasty tussle with gravity. Lots of intrigue then (business as usual for Invisible Republic) but how to make my review stand out? Well, I’ve got a swear jar and I’m going to put in a pound every time I think about using the word “gritty”, to describe this issue. That one didn’t count.
Let’s start with Maia’s story. The tension between her and Arthur has been built up well over the past few issues, and now it’s all reaching the crescendo. There certainly seems to be a shift in their dynamic and Maia is clearly unsettled around Arthur but I like that they didn’t have her cowering in fear of him. Their situation, however, seems to be one rapidly spinning into chaos and it’s clear they are becoming desperate. It all flows nicely with a really gritt…a bleak realism (that’s one). From homeless to desperate to wanted criminals, they’ve had no luck whatsoever and I’m not even sure whose fault it all is. Sure, Maia has the moral high ground but morals are overrated and I prefer my ground murky and complex. I’ve got a feeling that “morals are overrated” thing will be used against me in a court of law at some point.
Flash forward to the more futurey future and the Babbster is still hanging around off the edge of that balcony. Say what you want about the man but this is a monthly series and you have admire his grit…his tenacity! Only admire his tenacity. I like that this story is going somewhere mysterious and I like that Babb is the main focus. My reasons for this are as follows: he’s balding, he’s a bit fat and he’s more or less completely useless. It’s just so refreshing to see a comic character who’s not only a prat but a completely incompetent prat. I have no skills that would realistically make me anywhere near the level of ability required to front most comic book series (unless all the supervillains in the world suddenly develop a serious allergic reaction to sarcasm and a cynical outlook), so it’s nice to read a story where I go, “yep, that’s about as well as I think I would do in this situation”. He’s not very good, he’s not very handsome, he’s not brave, he’s not charming and I love it. Hmm, this is probably why I failed at online dating…and real world dating…I’m so alone.
So, the narrative is holding its own still but what about what’s holding it all together – the art? Well, on that front, I’m afraid this issue did not leave me thrilled. It’s very well drawn and I get that they are going for a grit…a darkly realistic feel but it felt too dark at some points. Throughout all of Babb’s story, the wonderfully drawn sketchbook style throws everything into a big palette of grey and refuses to let it out until it’s done at least 20 laps. There’s supposed to be a big (sort of) riot at one point but the energy and anger of the crowd just doesn’t come across when everyone looks like they order their entire wardrobe from the Royal Navy Battleship Collection. Even Maia’s story that was usually the source of some light in this world looks a little bit frigatey. Maybe that was a conscious decision on the Mr Boyd’s part. How should I know? It’s not like I review comics for Glasgow’s premier comic book related website. Shameless plug.
My final verdict on issue #3 then: well if story is what you look for in a comic then come feast on this, if you love masterfully drawn artwork then this is the comic for you, if you want a look for vibrancy and life through the use of colour then I question your priorities but urge caution too, and if you love a great font and it’s all about the lettering then perhaps you should spend your day release from the mental hospital more wisely. Overall, however, this is another worthwhile issue and it’s never been so grittastically, gritifyingly gritty. That was so worth it.