Invisible Republic #1
Written by Gabriel Hardman & Corinna Bechko ( @corinnabechko)
Art by Gabriel Hardman ( @gabrielhardman)
Colors by Jordan Boyd ( @jordantboyd)
Design by Dylan Todd ( @bigredrobot)
Review by Joey Braccino
“It’s the past. Nobody here wants to talk about that.”
And with those words, novelist Croger Babb is thrust down a rabbit hole of memory and mystery. As the Malory Regime falls amidst political turmoil in the year is 2843, run-down, rusted tech ships flee the skies of Avalon (in the Gliese System). Babb stumbles upon a strange journal, and Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman’s Invisible Republic is off to the races from there.
Let me start by saying Bechko and Hardman deliver a refreshingly riveting variation on the type of hard-boiled, pulpy noir that has been mixing with our sci-fi lately. The writer-hack/novelist-uncovering-the-truth angle mixes nicely with the Blade Runner aesthetic, and the infusion of the flashback once Babb uncovers the journal of Maia Reveron allows for a grounded, “natural” shift to a very different setting. I’ve been a longtime fan of this husband-wife creative duo—ever since I randomly read a copy of Star Wars: Legacy for this site—particularly because of their narrative synergy between the visual and written elements of the comics medium. The dialogue here is delightfully pulpy and dry; the exposition deftly woven into futuristic broadcasts and the aforementioned journal. The overall narrative of this debut issue is tightly paced and eschews standard sci-fi gunfights or spaceships for a brutal (and unexpected) physical altercation that carries emotional and thematic weight. Croger Babb (what a name!) is the quintessential neo-noir hero—think Rick Deckard with the narrative arc of Mikael Blomkvist from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo—who stumbles upon exactly the sort of thing that is going to get him a lot of trouble going forward.
While the narrative of Invisible Republic already has a lot going for it, it’s Hardman and Boyd’s moody, gritty artwork that truly stuns. Hardman’s work on books like Secret Avengers and Agents of Atlas notwithstanding, I feel that his work here is his very best. Each character is clearly presented and the experimentation with layouts and paneling is brilliant. At this point, Hardman is ready and willing to play with perspective and focus, zooming in and out on unexpected portions of a given scene. The flashback to Maia’s journal is a jarring shift from cold and barren urban sprawl to a seascape; the shift is wonderfully illustrated and impressive in its variation. Boyd keeps up admirably, playing with yellows and blacks for the urban future and rich reds and blues for the seascape flashback. Boyd brilliantly keeps a single color—a seafoam green—as a constant between the two setting, providing a visual continuity between the two scenes.
BUY. Invisible Republic is a stunning, riveting new comic series from the creative duo of Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko. I’m a sucker for neo-noir sci-fi, and if you work in a journalistic “uncovering the true story” angle, I’m totally in. Check it!