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‘Invisible Republic’ #1 gets lost in the stars

‘Invisible Republic’ #1 gets lost in the stars

Cover Invisible Republic #1
Written by Gabriel Hardman & Corinna Bechko
Art by Gabriel Hardman
Colors by Jordan Boyd
Published by Image Comics

Coming out this week from Image is a book from the minds of Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko, the title in question is Invisible Republic. It’s the distant space-faring future, again, where humankind has fallen into poverty with the collapse of the Malory Regime. A has-been novelist by the name of Croger Babb is in search of a story on the Regime but has failed to grasp the right audience. However, a chance encounter lands him with what could be the story of a life time: the journal of Maia Reveron, the untold cousin of former dictator Arthur McBride and with her the untold story of the Malory Regime.

It seems one thing that Image has been putting out as of late are comics that do the difficult-to-pull-off dual narrative. Alongside Birthright, this book seems to have a reason to split its story between past and present and while in Birthright these parallel stories come together with matching themes, Invisible Republic does so by working from both ends toward the center. The big hook of this series is the Malory Regime and it seems this series intends to explore it from the perspectives of Croger and Maia. There’s a hole in the center of this world that is to be filled. This is an intriguing idea however if makes Invisible Republic fall in between the proper amount of world building. While Kurt Busiek’s The Autumnlands jumps right into its story, expecting the reader to fill in the gaps as Jeff Lemire’s recent Descender goes overboard with exposition to establish setting, Republic suffers from the reader not feeling as if the world has been properly set up. There’s neither enough narration to explain the ways this universe works nor truly compelling characters to carry the plot on its own right out the door. That’s not to say any characters are particularly bad, though they feel sometimes lacking. Maia and Arthur have some interesting exchanges both between themselves and the military they oppose. It’s clear to see the seeds of character dynamics, but a first issue of any series is one of the most important and no one this issue was a real stand out.

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The artwork is quite good. To be fair, the rusty, rundown future has been done to death but artist Gabriel Hardman makes it his own. Colorist Jordan Boyd has little moments of clarity. It’s Boyd’s work that identifies the time jumps between past and present with subtle changes in palette. Still there are times where one has to ask for something more. Perhaps it’s that with so many science fiction comics of ambiguous locale coming out of Image at the moment with the aforementioned Descender and Becky Cloonan’s Southern Cross, that Invisible Republic feels generic. It has its look and it’s its own, no doubt. It’s just a shame it so far does very little with the setting.

Image

Invisible Republic comes recommended for fans of star crossed science fiction, but with some reservations. There is some great potential here but it has yet to be used. With so many other books coming out that nail this type of setting on the head, Republic feels like an underdog that’s come onto the field at the wrong time. Check it out and maybe the second issue before making a final judgement. Hopefully, this title will work to distinguish itself.