Reviewed By Katy Rex. There were a lot of things I expected when I started reading “Invisible Republic” #1. I kind of felt a Star Wars vibe coming from the cover and title, especially with the creative team’s history with Star Wars: Legacy, which is really its own unique variety of space epic. What I didn’t expect, however, was its strong ties to Camelot.
WRITTEN BY: Gabriel Hardman & Corinna Bechko
ART BY: Gabriel Hardman, Jordan Boyd
DESIGN BY: Dylan Todd
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
RELEASE: March 18, 2015
The story follows the aftermath of the Malory regime (a reference to Thomas Malory, compiler/author of Le Morte D’Arthur) as journalists try to find a story somewhere in the abject poverty the urban spaces have devolved into. As one reporter puts it, “the fall of the Malory Regime is hitting Avalon’s least fortunate the hardest.” But the locals aren’t interested in giving interviews to strangers looking to make a buck off of their misfortune, and even the journalists feel like they’ve “been through this kind of shit before. No need to pester the locals.” One among them, however, stumbles across some portion of the writings of Maia Reveron (Morgan le Fay?), cousin to Arthur McBride, as she relates who he was prior to politicking and how they ended up where they are now.
This book is filled with Arthurian easter eggs, and indicates that the creators have a close relationship with the original legends. It is, however, its own story, distinct and independent from that source material; this is not an Arthurian retelling that you’ve read before (trust me, I’ve read a few). The choice to update a classic and include political propaganda and futuristic spaces is a common technique, but not one I’ve experienced applied to this particular classic, and this book is working to find a good balance between its source material and the new content.
The greatest strength of this update is the art. Gabriel Hardman’s urban spaces combined with Jordan Boyd’s muted colors manage to convey something that is at once unknown and familiar, classic and futuristic, which is necessary for this book to succeed. The palette shift (as well as the lettering shift) that occurs with the flashback is bright and clean, and its contrast to the “modern” scenes point out just how far society has fallen; even when Maia and Arthur are poor, the sky is blue and the water is clear.
Not all of the Arthurian references are clear, especially to people who didn’t spend most of 4th grade avidly consuming every retelling they could get their hands on, and I’m not entirely sure where this story is going, but it’s strong and clever enough that I will absolutely be getting the next issue.