Dark Horse Comics and Berger Books continue to impress the market with complex, compelling, and imaginative comics. Invisible Kingdom is one of the highlights of this publishing line and the fourth issue was released this week.
An outlandish world full of corruption, greed, and hypocrisy great the reader as they return to the adventures of a trainee nun and a disgraced cargo ship captain. After being chased by a floating monastery, can things possible get any worse?
On the run with nowhere to turn, Vess and Grix must work together to survive in the hostile world they find themselves in. But with the militant arm of the Renunciation on their trail is there any chance of escape?
After the scene setting and character building of the previous issues, G.Willow Wilson concentrates on the action in the latest issue of Invisible Kingdom. The characters still play an important part, and it is in the subtleties of Wilson’s script where the character’s shine. The central cast each have their own distinctive voices and mannerisms which help scenes to play out in a particular way. Wilson is able to manipulate a sequence of events through the character interactions so that certain tones are brought out. The tenseness on the ship is built via the characters, just as the sense of loneliness and abandonment is later in the comic.
Even with the outstanding action taking place, Wilson manages to make Invisible Kingdom about the characters and their greater fight against the ‘State’. The Sundog spaceship is a vessel of castaways, people isolated from their own kind, and their desperate situation brings them together. The overriding theme of this comic is one of individual acceptance, a message that Wilson isn’t afraid to place front and centre in the story.
The personal interactions between the cast members are often portrayed in the smallest of moments. Christian Ward has proven that he can present out of this world scenery with beautiful art work and spellbinding layouts and in issue 4 of Invisible Kingdom he turns that magic towards the character. Sly looks between shipmates, and intimate moments show off the acting ability of Wards characters. There are some images that portray strength and confrontations while others are sentimental and touching.
The emotional aspects of the central cast are laid bare in these pages, hooking the reader. It is impossible not to feel for their plight or become engrossed in their relationships. Ward illustrates the action with dynamism and energy but it it is the infusion of raw emotion in the panels that really makes the storytelling so spellbinding.
Sal Cipriano’s lettering blends into this sea of beauty despite the whiteness of the speech balloons. This is achieved by having uneven boarders on the speech balloons so that the black lines are not solid or ridged. It is as if the art work is encroaching on the speech, taking it over. This becomes more noticeable when the Hammer of the Path vessel turns up and the spiked balloons force themselves into the lives of the heroes. The violence and anger of the captains voice is visually represented through the speech balloon giving it emphasis and domination over the scenes.
Invisible Kingdom has grown as a comic month on month which is impressive considering how good the first issue was. The art work is without question beautiful to behold; it is daring and exciting but the panel compositions are also dramatic and emotional. The script is clever and subtle and the story is compelling.
Wilson, Ward and Cipriano have created a masterpiece of science fiction. It is an adventurous tale of space exploits but also a commentary on current social acceptances. Easily the best place to get your science fiction fix.