As the second arc of Invisible Kingdom from Dark Horse Comics comes to a close, the world created by G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward gets a little bit larger and a little bit more complicated.
The last four issues have seen the creators concentrate much of the story on the relationship between Grix and Vess, producing a wonderful character driven narrative. The relationship between the two hots up as the arc comes to an end and the crew of the Sundog face possible destruction in the depths of space.
After so long you begin to get a feel for a comic, an idea of what to expect. The plot may twist and turn but the style of storytelling becomes a constant. With creator owned comics that continue to use the same creators issue after issue, a rhythm is formed and a tone is set for the series. Take a look at Saga or The Walking Dead to see what I mean.
This doesn’t mean that the comic becomes dull or predictable, often quite the opposite. What it means is that the creators become attuned to each other and play to each others strengths. Invisible Kingdom is a prime example of this. You can pick up any issue and see how the writing and the art are inseparable within the comic.
G. Willow Wilson writes emotional dialogue that moves the characters through the action. Their relationships fuel the plot, pushing it forward. Each interaction has an effect that propels the reader further along the narrative.
Christian Ward’s artwork sets the scene. In some cases this means creating an outstanding alien landscape for the action to take place in. At the start of this issue, Grix is floating in the depths of space and in three panels Ward is able to relay the full extent of the danger that the Captain is in.
Ward is also able to add extra weight to Wilson’s words because of his emotive character design. In one scene Grix and Vess have a discussion about their relationship and you know exactly how the scene is going to end. Ward fills the characters with sexual tension, bringing them slowly together through the panel composition. It’s like a scene in a romantic movie where the characters get closer and closer as their conversation catches up with their bodies.
Invisible Kingdom started as a world expanding, science fiction tale but it has become something so much more. The characters are engaging, even the extras who don’t get much page space. Wilson’s script is honest and heartfelt. She is able to write the big science fiction plot and she does it using personalities and relationship dilemmas.
A number of plot threads are woven effortlessly together and as the reader is focused on one aspect of the story the rest of it is slowly advancing. Everything reads so naturally and this is because of the seamless blend of script and art. The words by Wilson, the lettering by Sal Cipriano, and the art by Ward all focus on the emotional story. This singular vision by the creators gives the comic focus for the reader and allows the plot to maneuver effortlessly around the characters.
Capriano’s soft approach to the word balloons and caption boxes enhance the sense of emotion. The rounded edges of the captions and the inconsistent thickness to the speech balloons create a natural appearance and, as a result, the flow of dialogue is more even, more conversational. You get the impression that these characters are having whispered, intimate conversations. It’s as if we the readers are voyeurs, listening in where we shouldn’t.
This issue is the culmination of the character development the creators have been working on since issue 1. Grix and Vess have been on an emotional journey stretching across 10 issues and reaching a significant moment in these pages. But is it too late? For the answer to that you’ll have to read the comic.
This issue is a satisfying end to what has come so far but it is also the start of something new. The ending opens up an exciting prospect for the future of the comic and fans will not be able to wait for the next arc to start.
A perfect blend of science fiction and emotional drama, Invisible Kingdom continues to be more than the sum of its parts.