Dark and gritty "poli-sci-fi," as the writing duo of Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko dub their futuristic political thriller, that draws upon the political commentary stylings of Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009) minus the mysticism, and the often depression inducing politics and policies of tyranny, poverty, anarchy, and history as text.
What's Happening: Reporter Croger Babb discovers a hitherto unpublished biography of Arthur McBride, the recently deposed head of the Mallory regime, whose collapse has brought severe economic and political hard times on the "remote moon" of Avalon. Society is crumbling around him, and the startling revelations that McBride's biography, including the ones surrounding his also hitherto unknown of cousin Maia Reveron, may or may not make the situation worse. Regardless, it's a tale that has to be told, or so Babb believes...
The Writing: Hardman and Bechko craft the opening movement of a tale of interplanetary despotism and the stories of those affected by its collapse. Startlingly realistic in theme and characterization, much like the aforementioned Battlestar Galactica (2004-09) was, Invisible Republic has the potential to join classics like Brian Wood's DMZ as cutting edge tales of political economy that serve as excellent educational reflections of the contemporary politics of the world around us. Much of the advanced press marketing around this book stressed that it would be a look into history as a text written by the victors. That premise alone stoked my interest and caused me to pick up the book. Hardman and Bechko appear to be in this for the long haul as the events of issue #1 unfold slowly, yet effectively. They build the plot and atmosphere slowly and painstakingly, much like a well researched and in depth novel would. Some might see the lack of action in the first issue as a detriment to the buying habits of a generation of short attention span readers, but I get the feeling this book is geared for those who enjoy a thought provoking political thriller/morality play. I wouldn't have changed anything about the pace of this first issue one bit.
The Artwork: Hardman's artwork is my favorite kind of sequential artwork: realistic, gritty, and oppressive. It fits the depressed atmosphere of Avalon perfectly. One can almost smell the metallic grease of the transport ships loading ramps and dirty and derelict streets still sporting the fascist like posters of McBride's over sized face on their side walls.
The Verdict: For those looking for an intelligent read on the level of many of Brian Wood's DMZ or Greg Rucka's superb Lazarus, Invisible Republic is for you. Joining the long list of other great Image books being published right now like Nameless, Chrononauts, Descender, and Southern Cross, Invisible Republic looks like another classic in the making.