The first collected edition of Invisible Republic, the latest comic by the husband and wife team of Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko, has recently been released. It collects the first story arc featured in issues 1-5 of the monthly comic. Published by Image Comics, it is another fine example of how the comic book medium is currently at the forefront of intelligent, innovative storytelling.
Invisible Republic introduces readers to a universe far into the future, a vaguely recognisable planet which could be Earth but is not made clear. The world-building in this comic is excellent, mainly because the creators focus on the characters and fill in details of the world they live in, rather than the other way around. This gives an acute sense of this world existing as a fully-formed universe, a setting that is distant in time and space but made familiar through the relatable characters. It’s hardly surprising this creative team have got the characters and the setting so right, given their previous success with the Planet of The Apes franchise for Boom Studios.
The action in this comic is split between the year 2843 in which investigative journalist Croger Babb is researching a story about the fall of the Mallory Regime, and a few decades earlier where flashbacks focus on Maia Reveron and Arthur McBride, the founder of the Mallory Regime. The flashback scenes occur when Babb discovers Maia’s old journal, his reading of the faded pages conjuring the secret history that led to the creation of the regime, and the part played by Maia.
As Babb gets closer to the truth about Arthur McBride he is confronted by an unknown group who appear desperate to get hold of the journal. Mirroring Babb’s attempts to escape this threat are Maia and Arthur’s increasingly desperate attempts to escape the clutches of the authorities, who have discovered the murder scene left behind by Arthur when he and Maia were confronted by a group of soldiers.
The art in Invisible Republic is superb and really compliments the story. Corrina Bechko’s pencil and ink work is detailed in a way that makes the characters expressive, the backgrounds imposing, and the (often violent) action scenes visceral and urgent. The colours by Jordan Boyd are instrumental in the way this book comes together. Boyd uses different colour palettes to represent the different time periods in the book, richer colours in the flashback scenes and more muted greys and browns in the current setting. The layout is also dynamic; the creators clearly not afraid to play around with panel positions. Rather than confuse the flow of the story, it makes this comic an absolute joy to read.
Invisible Republic explores themes of political corruption, injustice, inequality, social unrest and conspiracy. These themes are a reality to countless numbers of people across the world every single day. While Invisible Republic is set nearly a century into the future it could just as easily be holding a mirror up to today’s fragmented, unstable world.
Stephen Hardman is a trainee Legal Executive Lawyer who currently resides in Bath, in the UK with his wife and their cat. Among other things he writes in his spare time. He is currently working on a novel which he hopes to finish soon, and he has written a few short stories as well, though has not had anything published. Yet. Stephen loves reading and is a huge crime fiction fan; George Pelecanos, Dennis Lehane, and Ken Bruen being particular favourites. He is an editor and contributor at the geek culture website Geeks Unleashed.
His obsession with comic books knows no bounds and he loves sharing news and reviews of all the great comic books and graphic novels being published right now. He also loves listening to music and seeing bands live, and is always seeking out new bands and musicians to obsess about.
You can catch him on Twitter @HardDaysWrite.