In Review: Invisible Republic #8

If you think comics are only for juveniles, then you haven't been reading Invisible Republic. Absolutely recommended.

The cover: Reporter Croger Babb is in profile next to the title of this series. Just below him is Maia Reveron’s abode in the Accra Mud Flats on Avalon. Below this structure, in striking burnt orange, are the silhouettes of several revolutionaries; four are holding rifles. It’s another strong, moody piece from illustrator Gabriel Hardman that teases what this issue will be about without revealing anything. Overall grade: A+

The story: 2843, Space elevator 1 on Avalon. A man stating to be Earth Press is heading up to Mainstay 1, the temporary home of the Earth-led governing body of Avalon. He gets snippy with a customs guard but proceeds to a lockers area. He asks the attendant if she’s seen someone. “Tall woman. Likes to dress in black.” He learns that she was there two days ago, but nothing else as two guards ask him to come with them. The scene then moves to Maia’s converted home in the Accra Mud Flats. Croger and Fran are debating what to do with Maia’s journal, who wants it back. Babb is done: he doesn’t want to be around any more violence. Fran doesn’t know if Maia can be trusted. This argument, brought to life by Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko, is exactly the conversation two characters would be having if in this situation. They’re both tired and tense, and they don’t want to die, but they don’t know which decision keeps them alive. Their conversation comes to an end due to the unexpected arrival of a three legged individual. The unpredictable situation these two have gotten themselves into has never been more foreboding than what’s said at the bottom of Page 7. Pages 14 – 16 are the creepiest this series has gotten and that’s largely due to how well Hardman and Bechko make it relatable to what others have endured, or are currently enduring, around the world. Readers would be hard pressed not to feel empathy, once again changing how they feel about specific characters. The flashbacks continue to show Maia’s dissatisfaction with what her cousin Arthur is doing, with a tense scene on 8 – 10. Arthur seems to be losing patience with her as well, culminating in her doing something she shouldn’t have on 20, with fallout due to occur in the next issue. There’s an excellent cliffhanger on the final page, inserting an unknown party into the affairs of the present. This story never fails to impress. Overall grade: A+

The art: This book looks like an entirely plausible future, with space elevators, spaceships, and technology just a fingertip away from reality. That’s one of many selling points of Gabriel Hardman’s visuals. This isn’t Star Trek or Star Wars; the technology isn’t meant to be showy, only to move the story forward. I love the curvature within Mainstay 1, which I haven’t seen in any form of entertainment since Babylon 5. It was also neat to see gravity approached a little more realistically, which is brought up in one of the issue’s essays. The emotion on the individual asking questions in the opening is nice. He’s stoic, until the fifth panel on Page 3, where some ire comes to the surface. Looking exceptionally well drawn are Croger and Fran, whose conversation is as well staged as any play or film, with their postures just as telling as their faces. I really liked the final panel on 16. There’s no text whatsoever, but readers can easily understand what’s running through the character’s head. Maia is another strong looking character in this book, with her close-up on 7 powerful. When she’s shown in flashback she’s just as strong, but not as tired with the battle she’s been waging. Arthur is the character to watch for subtle glances, with eyes that just burn off the page. This book looks amazing. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Jordan Boyd continues to color this book, and he, too, is doing an incredible job. He is the absolute master of what gets colors in Hardman’s work. The present continues to be colored starkly, maintaining the original look of Hardman’s black and white art. However, some colors are subtly included: light browns for the exteriors of Avalon, blues for Mainstay 1, and rusted red for a quick showing of a wound. The past sports more colors, as though it hasn’t lost the spark of promise the Avalon still holds. Maia’s narration is every so slightly yellow, like an ancient tome, technology has a green tint, Maia’s hair is still red, and when bright colors are needed for an explosive moment, on 20, oranges and yellows are used to power a blast. The colors give readers clues just as much as the story or art. Overall grade: A+

The essays: The first essay in this issue is by Bechko and focuses on the “The Gravity Puzzle.” She states the difficulties travels in space will be due to the lack of gravity, what’s needed to have it mirror that of Earth, and how it’s currently an insolvable problem. I continue to enjoy Bechko’s essays in this series, which illustrate how far she and Hardman have thought out the plausibility of elements in this saga and educating readers to the artistic license others have taken. The last page has Hardman discussing “The Rules of Visual Storytelling.” I haven’t encountered a more concise telling in some time of why panels for comics in the west are set up in the way they are. This cuts to quick, explaining why and what happens if they’re not. Overall grades: A+

The final line: If you think comics are only for juveniles, then you haven’t been reading Invisible Republic. This is what you show others when they say that all characters in comics are spandex wearing superheroes. Absolutely 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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