In Review: Invisible Republic #9

The finest, purest science fiction book on the market.

The cover: Maia Reveron walks forward against a stamped document. Her shadow is not a smooth one or one that matches the outline of her body. Instead, it is distorted into a streak of violent gray that grows the further it gets from her. Could this imply that she starts something this issue that blossoms uncontrollably or does it state that her path creates destruction in its wake? Only by purchasing this issue can a reader find out. A cool, symbolic cover from illustrator Gabriel Hardman and colorist Jordan Boyd. Overall grade: A+

The story: This issue, written by Garbriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko, opens in Maia’s past. She’s working in the farmlands of the flooded algae fields and is called for a special duty because of her size. She needs to pull a glyck eel out of the main intake valve: only her arm is small enough to reach in to abstract the creature. She’s successful, but there is a price to be paid. It’s this moment that seems to begin her trust in her cousin Arthur, who does something that she won’t forget. This memory gives way to the present: Maia has been captured by Avalon’s police after screaming out a warning just before a bomb went off. She’s interrogated, but someone ends her questioning, and his reasons for doing so are surprising. High above Avalon, in the present of 2843, Fran is looking for Maia’s journal and runs into someone who alerts her to the dangers she’s just unknowingly submitted herself to. Just as things begin to get tense, the story moves to a flashback with Maia meeting some people she believed to be dead. If a reader were to think that Croger’s place in the story is over, something occurs on the final page that brings him back to the forefront, as much as he’d rather not be there. This story continues to pull the reader back and forth in their opinion of future dictator Arthur, but others have their own hands in Avalon’s future and it seems those stories have only just begun. A completely engrossing tale that twists and turns the reader’s perspective around. Overall grade: A+

The art: The opening three pages start with an idyllic view of the algae fields; it’s futuristic, yet seems entirely probably in Earth’s immediate future. Inserting child Maia into the story makes her completely sympathetic and what occurs to her frightening on several levels. The final three pages of Page 3 turn the perfect setting into something different and provide an excellent transition to grown up Maia. Page 5 is an excellent scene, having the character at an emotional low point against the faceless law; exactly how the protesters feel. The scenes on Mainstay 1 are beautiful for their futuristic look, but it’s the positioning of the characters on 9 and 10 that give the book a subtle but palpable sci-fi feel. Page 12 is a full page splash whose imagery matches the weight of the text. When things turn hostile for a character on 19 the art becomes dark, with faces lost in the darkness, mirroring the repressive forces that questioned Maia on 3; this is a nice way to show the conflicted feelings of whom Maia can trust. I’m continually impressed by Gabriel Hardman’s work on this book, making this book firmly grounded in reality with just enough possible sci-fi elements to make it futuristic. Overall grade: A+

The colors: This issue’s story allows Jordan Boyd the most opportunities to vary the colors of this saga. The opening three pages, being the most distant flashback so far, are the brightest in the series. And why shouldn’t they be? This is when Maia is the youngest, so shouldn’t the world be the brightest to her? After something terrible happens to her on Page 3 the colors begin to fade, foreshadowing her future — perhaps her loss of optimism? — and the transition to the next page. The interrogation scene is appropriately dim, which would please George Orwell, and notice how the colors brighten slightly when the episode ends. I love the metallic colors of Mainstay 1, keeping its artificial nature always in the reader’s mind. Colors return when the story moves back to Maia, but take note how they disappear when she’s in danger. Colors create the mood just as much as the artwork in this book. Overall grade: A+

The extras: Usually the letters page is followed by a two page essay by Corinna Bechko focusing on some aspect of the story that was prominent. Instead, two pages from A Traveler’s Guide to the Flora and Fauna of Avalon occur. This is highly interesting and informative. Following this is a one page essay by Bechko titled “Vegetables Without Borders.” It’s a neat presentation of culture, shown through a vegetable. “Improbable,” you say? Read and learn. Overall grades: A+

The final line: The finest, purest science fiction book on the market. Each installment captures me in a web that would rival the work of a glyck eel. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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