Arthur McBride’s planetary regime has fallen. His story is over. That is until reporter Croger Babb discovers the journal of Arthur’s cousin, Maia… Your Major Spoilers review of Invisible Republic #1 awaits!
Previously in Invisible Republic: “Breaking Bad meets Blade Runner. Arthur McBride’s planetary regime has fallen. His story is over. That is until reporter Croger Babb discovers the journal of Arthur’s cousin, Maia. Inside is the violent, audacious hidden history of the legendary freedom fighter. Erased from the official record, Maia alone knows how dangerous her cousin really is…”
IN THE FUTURE WORLD THAT’S COMING
The solicits call this book “Breaking Bad meets Blade Runner”, the kind of description that always worries me greatly, especially if it’s true. Our story starts in the year 2843, on planet Avalon, with a grizzled reporter named Babb trying to find a story in the wake of the collapse of a totalitarian regime. The opening does a good job (perhaps even *too* good a job) of showing us where the ‘Blade Runner influences are, but when Croger stumbles over an old man burning paper for warmth, things get… weird. The revelation that the piles of paper are the diary of the fallen dictator’s cousin seems super-contrived, but it’s a conceit that I’m willing to accept as the rest of the story plays out. Croger’s tale is half of the rest of the issue, with the diary of Maia and a tale of her childhood with the future ruler of the world. It’s a harrowing bit of storytelling, one that I hope we see more of in future issues, ending with Croger calling his editor and promising the story of the 27th century. This issue sets up a difficult balancing act for the creators, making sure that we care about Croger and his world while telling us the story of how Avalon got so screwed up in the first place.
WELL-DONE FUTURE WORLD-BUILDING
Still, it is a balancing act that the creators manage to pull off here, and it does it’s job as a first issue, making me want to know more about the world Invisible Republic is building. The art is top-notch stuff, delivering military armor and hardware, a dissipated mess of a world and weird alien crustaceans with equal skill. The use of color is also well-handled (if a bit muted), with the flashbacks having an amber/sepia tone and the crapsack world of Avalon an ash-gray ruin. There are some peculiarities, including a strange lettering issue where the use of italics seems to be characters shouting, while balloon placement and punctuation imply something different, but overall, it’s a well-done book. The biggest hurdle is going to be the question of whether it can escape the shadow of its influences, especially as regards future noir stories, and whether this story can stand on its own as more than just a ‘Blade Runner’ pastiche.
THE BOTTOM LINE: IT HAS POTENTIAL
Based entirely on this issue, though, there’s a lot of potential here, and the story delivered is a good one especially when it’s being sold for a dollar less than many mainstream superhero titles. Invisible Republic #1 falls squarely in the middle of Image’s recent science fiction offerings, but delivers an interesting premise if you’re willing to play along as the world is unpacked through Maia’s journals, with its strong art stacking up for 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. Even if it turns out not to be the next ‘Saga’, it’s a strong outing from Hardman & Bechko…