INVISIBLE KINGDOM issue #2 review
INVISIBLE KINGDOM issue #2 advance review
INVISIBLE KINGDOM #2. Dark Horse Comics release April 24, 2019.
Story by G. Willow Wilson (Wonder Woman, Ms. Marvel)
Art and color, including covers, by Christian Ward (Black Bolt, ODY-C)
The first issue of the comics series INVISIBLE KINGDOM was released on March 20th with much fanfare, timed to appear ahead of the San Diego Comic-Con, the series being a new addition to Dark Horse’s much-celebrated Berger Books imprint.
And in this case, the comics-biz hoopla has been justified, because INVISIBLE KINGDOM has much to recommend it.
As Dark Horse puts it, the series “…tells the tale of two women–a young religious acolyte and a hard-bitten freighter pilot–who separately uncover a vast conspiracy between the leader of the system’s dominant religion and the mega-corporation that controls society.” The mega-corporation is Lux, the dominant religion is the Renunciation, which rejects the crass materialism promoted by Lux. The “Nones” of the Renunciation are women who live like nuns and wear cowl over their eyes, because their spiritual search is described as walking toward a spiritual kingdom that can’t be seen by the eyes, the “invisible kingdom” of the title. Or is it the crypto-plutocracy suggested by the aforementioned vast conspiracy ?
From this premise, G.Willow Wilson has done an impressive job of world-building. As spelled out in an Issue #1 afterword, INVISIBLE KINGDOM is set in a small star system with four planets in close orbit. At least three of the planets are habitable, and each of these has evolved a species of sentient humanoids, introduced in the story. Of the fourth planet, we hear nothing anywhere so far, but one of the freighter pilot’s crew looks like none of the above, so to speak. In any case, these species have mastered sub-light interplanetary travel, and interspecies interaction is the norm.
The story itself has it all : thoughtful character building, tight pacing, complex plotting, believable dialogue, and a solid message about our own time, delivered without preachiness or pretension.
The art is likewise masterful in every respect. With SF comics like INVISIBLE KINGDOM, production design is crucial – it’s the artistic equivalent of the writer’s world building. Designing three distinct humanoid species, easily distinguishable, is one of the many impressive feats accomplished by Christian Ward. Others are Ward’s design of the material culture and the settings, giving a distinctive look to the whole series – my personal favorite are the houses on Rool. Frame composition is yet another strong point, especially in the dynamic character blocking, while the layout has astonishing variety and is highly appealing visually. The color work is noteworthy : Ward’s palette has both depth and breadth, and color plays an integral role in composition geometries – the issues’ covers give a good idea of what I mean by this last.
All in all, then, I recommend INVISIBLE KINGDOM unreservedly – and especially to those who read comics for the art in them. Naturally, you should grab a copy of INVISIBLE KINGDOM #1 now, so you’ll be ready when the second issue drops next week.
ART and COLOR 5
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Recommended unreservedly – especially to those who read comics for the art. INVISIBLE KINGDOM #1 is out now, so grab a copy as soon as you can.