Of late, there hasn’t been a shortage of good science fiction comics. Fans of the genre are spoiled with choices and new series seem to be announced each week. Now it seems that the struggle isn’t to find a solid scifi story, but to find one that sets itself apart from its peers. Invisible Republic, a new Image series created by Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko, sets itself apart from the outset.
The story follows Croger Babb, a journalist hunting for a story on the small moon Avalon. The story takes place after the fall of the Malory regime, but the details of that fall are scarce. Instead, readers are thrust directly into the aftermath. Babb finds his story when he comes across a series of diary entries in a pile of kindling. They belong to Maia Reveron and the middle portion of the book tells her story. Maia and her cousin Arthur are living in a tent on the shore, surviving off of malnourished fish and barnacles. Again, the context is very limited and rather than focus on how they came to be there, the story stays grounded in the present action.
The most interesting part of the book is the focus on characters over the world. There are very few hints about the world around Babb, making each one a precious detail to hold onto. It allows the imagination to run wild while providing readers with solid characters to care about. With the full length of the book devoted to the characters, it allows them to be further developed by the end of the issue than most other series. Hardman and Bechko masterfully keep the connection between these characters and the overarching plot hidden until the last page, making for a revelation that is guaranteed to bring readers back next month.
Hardman’s art is a fantastic fit for the story. He crafts the individual environments with an eye for detail, making the settings feel gritty and alive. The level of detail consistently presented in each panel is stunning. Jordan Boyd’s coloring brings it all together, presenting Avalon as a grim dystopia. I was most impressed by the action sequences in the middle section of the book. When a fight breaks out, the blows feel like they carry weight. It’s brutal, but captivating.
Invisible Republic #1 is a great comic for what it tells readers as much as what it keeps close to the chest. Hardman and Bechko work together like a dream, promising a gripping political thriller in future installments. Do not miss this issue.