In the last two years, Image has released a half-dozen new, space-opera books, and Invisible Republic seemed an unlikely candidate to be the best of them. It didn't have the jaw-dropping art of Drifter, the popular author of Descender, the genre hooks of The Fuse and Copperhead, or even the dedication to big sci-fi ideas that fueled Roche Limit. However, over its first year, Gabriel Hardman and Corrinna Bechko's space-set political thriller has proved itself the most well-made, intelligent book of the bunch. In its seventh issue, Invisible Republic continues its consistency while widening its scope to great effect. Invisible Republic is divided into two connected stories: that of disgraced reporter Croger Babb's modern day (2843 in this case) investigations into the journal of Maia Reveron and the decades earlier events in Maia's life that put the late dictator Arthur McBride in power. Until now, the events in the past have been the most interesting part of the book, but that seems to be changing, as Babb's investigation of Maia Reveron has finally led him to the woman herself.
Invisible Republic #7 shows for the first time some of the motivation behind Arthur McBride himself who has for the last few issues been portrayed as distant and quiet, emphasizing his new position as a political symbol. In the past, Maia discusses with him his increasing power and he draws parallels between himself and King Arthur. While this seems momentarily hopeful, a cryptic warning from one of the freedom fighters leaves Maia shaken. As she begins to suspect a conspiracy surrounding Arthur, the violent events of the future add a sense of melancholy inevitability to her life.
There is perhaps a bit too much that is mysterious in Invinsible Republic's future segments as this issue occasionally feels as though we are watching a game played without knowing all the rules. Before now, this has served to highlight the journalistic aspects of the story, but with that for moment abandoned, it would be nice to know a little more about what the book's central conflict is. Perhaps it's fitting for a book looking at war and politics that while the past has a clear hero and villain, the future has neither, but it would be helpful to find out what exactly is the importance of Maia's journal.
As before, Hardman and Bechko do not seem particularly interested in the sci-fi aspects of the story. McBride's fallen regime on the future moon of Maidenstone is a clear stand-in for any number of similar dictatorships in the western world of the 20th century. This might be a problem if the political thriller nature of the story was not such a novelty in its own right. Further, Hardman's scratchy but detailed art depicting a fallen world of alien creatures and blocky buildings adds a larger than life quality to the story. While I would love to see the sci-fi play a larger role (one moment with Maia's alien dog is an issue highlight), for the moment Invisible Republic seems to be finding its rhythm just fine as is.
All in all, Invisible Republic continues to be an excellent, underappreciated part of Image's ever-growing sci-fi catalogue. While the book may not quite be addictive, it remains a uniquely intelligent well-wrought depiction of the murky aftermath of war with a few tusked monsters thrown in for good measure.
Invisible Republic #7 Authors: Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko Artists: Gabriel Hardman and Jordan Boyd Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 11/25/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital