In Review: Invisible Republic #5

This gets my highest possible recommendation of the week.

The cover: Standing atop a mound of trash, with a distant city seen, future dictator Arthur McBride is standing back-to-back with his cousin Maia Reveron. Among the refuse is the face of investigative reporter Croger Babb and a paper bearing a red seal. The grey sky makes the tone of these images seem extremely dark. This frontpiece absolutely sets the correct mood for what lies within. The art is by Gabriel Hartman with colors by Jordan Boyd. Fantastic! Overall grade: A+

The story: Maia opens the issue comparing her newfound knowledge of bees to how humans are living on Avalon. One particularly keen observation is “…through these tiny insects, I was forced to confront the tenuous nature of our existence…” She states she was too busy with her work to notice how restless the city was becoming or who was causing it. As she takes a supply of honey into an alley to sell she is confronted by a series of posters of Arthur. She learns that he’s become lionized by “The Movement”, people staging demonstrations and “randomly blowing things up.” After hearing this, Maia asks if anyone knows what’s happened to Arthur. Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko’s story then moves to the present, 42 years later, as Croger is having a dispute with his editor over expenses. She hangs up on him just as Fran comes across a photo of McBride which causes her to wonder what happened to the man’s inner circle. The story, like the previous issues, expertly goes back and forth in time, deliciously dangling clues before readers on what happened to Arthur and Alia and who’s trying to keep her diary from going public. Highlights included the reveal on Page 7, the bottom of 11, all of Page 13, the entrance on 15, the obvious outcome on 17, and the screamer that ends the issue on 25. This is an amazing story. Overall grade: A+

The art: The visuals of this book are like looking at Blade Runner for the first time. The settings are absolutely believable, just far enough in the future to give them a slick sci-fi twist. The opening page would be a budget buster for a film as it shows the panorama of a vast city and its unrest. A distant explosion becomes a family trying to get home at night, as two soldiers walk the streets. There’s even an illegal rally and another explosion before moving to Maia trying to sell her wares. The posters of Arthur are a startling image, very reminiscent of what one would see in a country on the edge of violent change. Archi and Luis’ hives and home look as though they could be set in the present time with just a few minor tweaks to make them futuristic. The final sequence in the past is frightening. Gabriel Hardman excellently captures the pandemonium of the situation. Pages 19 – 23 deliver cinematic chills. As good as those pages are, the final image of the issue had my jaw drop. It’s not as action oriented as the previous ones I’ve described, but it’s just as emotional for its simplicity. The scenes set in the present are much more futuristic looking, with the settings and the lighting having much more technology, though Croger goes places where it’s just a part of the scenery. The reporters are well drawn, but it’s impossible to match the drama the characters in the past endure. Overall grade: A+

The colors: I love that Jordan Boyd has the past rendered more brightly than the present. Often it’s the opposite in books, but with Avalon on the decline, the past is a much more optimistic setting. It’s interesting to note that when Arthur’s image is shown on the posters the colors drain away. It’s as if his mere presence condemns the future. This is an outstanding example of colors reinforcing the story. Page 7 has a pink washed out look, showing that Maia’s colorful future is starting to ebb. Boyd’s highpoint for this issue are Pages 19 – 23. I’ve never seen such a moment colored so realistically, and this creates an unbelievable amount of tension. Orange has never looked more threatening. Overall grade: A+

The letters: There’s no credit given in this book as to whom the letterer is, but in a previous issue’s letter column it was revealed to be Sylvester Cazadero, so I’m going to assume he’s doing this issue as well. He contributes Maia’s narration, dialogue, a change in time, yells, and the tease for the next issue. There are sound effects in this issue but they’re drawn by Hardman onto his art. Everything Cazadero does looks good, with Maia’s narration continuing to be superior. Overall grade: A+

The essay: There’s no essay in this issue from Bechko or Hardman. Instead they’ve elected to print in its entirety a letter from a fan who explains the importance of geography. This may not seem like a topic worthy of discussion, but Jordan Evans “really gets at the heart of what Invisible Republic is,” according to Bechko. She’s correct. It’s an extremely well written letter that discusses an aspect of this book that most comics never touch upon. Overall grade: A+

The final line: This is my favorite new book and it gets my highest possible recommendation for the week. Everyone should be buzzing about this series. 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.
    One Comment
  • Jordan Evans
    6 August 2015 at 9:52 pm -

    This stands as the only A+ I have ever received from an English teacher. Thanks for the kind words about my letter, and I love your comic reviews! Have a great day!

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