In Review: Invisible Republic #6

This is the type of story that one would expect from Robert Heinlein or Isaac Asimov. Recommended.

The cover: A ship explodes in the distance as Arthur McBride Malory runs for shelter, while carrying a really big rifle. He’s followed by several others also seeking shelter. The woman in the front of the pack could be his cousin Maia Reveron. Great image by Gabriel Hardman, and I’m assuming colorist Jordan Boyd, that teases a violent attack by the future dictator of Avalon, showing that he’s willing to sacrifice his followers for the larger cause. A stark and strong image. Overall grade: A+

The story: The previous issue ended with the startling reveal of Maia, alive and well on Avalon. That surprise is momentarily left unaddressed as Lady Pannonica has landed on the planet for the first time in thirty years. She’s accosted by reporters looking for a sound bite, but she’s not saying much. Meanwhile, Croger Babb and Fran Woronov are blindfolded and being driven to dilapidated structure in the middle of nowhere to meet with Reveron. When they remove their blinders they’re greeted by a creature the size of lion with an enormous maw growling at them. “Jo” is stopped only by Maia’s appearance: “Easy, you’re okay. They won’t hurt us. They’re not so scary.” The story then moves to the past as she has a flashback of her living with the rebels after the disaster in the street from the night before. Her past is narrated by her recollection of the events she wrote in her journal that Babb now possesses. As writers Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Beckho have their characters make their way through her past and present, secrets are revealed about the revolution, with a very telling line on Page 12 and an excellent character appearance on 18. There’s some good foreshadowing of troubles on 15 that becomes this issue’s cliffhanger which leaves things at a crucial juncture. The highpoint of this issue was the discussion that takes place on Pages 20 and 21. It takes the story in an entirely new, and completely unexpected, direction. The dialogue is the sort of cat-and-mouse dialogue one would expect of countries trying to keep from going to war and the tension in the scene just oozes out of every line of text. Fantastic reading. Overall grade: A+

The art: Gabriel Hardman is continually walking the line between reality and the far future and he makes both co-exist flawlessly. The opening page has a science-fiction ship landing, but the design of it has it looking like something that could actually exist in the future: there are no sleek lines, just a functioning craft. When the characters disembark they are dressed as people would dress today; there are no clean, bright, or outrageous uniforms — again, another element that makes this world believable for the reader. When a vehicle is making its way to a desolate building, it looks like something out of a science fantasy like Star Wars with a massive mountain and a cloud of dust trailing the speeder. It’s a akin to looking at a horse galloping to a princess’s castle, and Hardman makes it believable. Then there’s  Jo, who is an alien creature, to be sure, but is endowed with characteristics that anyone who owns a dog would understand. Hardman really shines when Maia begins to recount what has happened to Arthur since they parted company. This sequence begins with a tease in the final panel on 9. Rather than be part of the “normal” story, Hardman makes the artwork for her memories have no borders; instead, the visuals bleed off the page or fade off into a hazy outline, as time condemns some occurrences. Page 10 is my favorite. It is very cinematic, with the sounds at the top outstanding, and I love that Arthur is primarily in silhouette, eluding that the man he was is gone and that he’s becoming someone else. Page 12 is a full page splash of the character and it can be considered the hero shot of the issue or the arrival of the villain; only time will tell which way he’s to be viewed by the reader. There’s also a strong change in setting starting on 18, and, considering where Maia has been, it hit me as hard as it did her. The visuals on this book are wonderful. Overall grade: A+

The colors: This issue marks the strongest change-up in colors in the series so far. Episodes shown in the present have been very stark: grey, black, and white, with some sickly yellows. They represent a society — a world — in decay. They are symbolic reminders to the readers of what state Avalon is in. Jordan Boyd does a superior job in making his book feel as gritty as Blade Runner with his work. However, a change has occurred in the past. It’s always been shown to be just a tad brighter, as though it’s a civilization that’s about to go into decline. The book now has brighter colors. It might be because Maia is now with the revolution and things are looking up, or that the group’s optimism is painting the past rosily. I was startled by the second panel on 6 because of the colors — it’s the brightest moment in this series’ short history. It creates a much more startling contrast with the present and gave the events that occurred a more truthful tone because they could be plainly seen. An excellent job. Overall grade: A+

The essay: This month’s essay is on a topic that never ceases to leave me thinking: an orbital elevator. In “Elevate Me” Corinna Bechko examines the argument for a “space elevator.” It’s an outstanding device that would solve many problems in getting people into space, though it’s going to take some more innovation to be achieved. I’m finding myself looking forward to these essays as much as the actual story — Who’d have thought that essay reading in a comic book could be so cool? Overall grade: A+

The final line: This is the most adult comic on the market. It is not full of violence, sex, or drugs, but individuals trying to discover truth, on a personal and planetary scale. It is the finest example of what science fiction can be. This is the type of story one would expect from Robert Heinlein or Isaac Asimov. This is must reading. Recommended. 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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