Advance Review – Invisible Kingdom #1 (Dark Horse)

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics (Berger Books Imprint)
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artwork: Christian Ward
Release Date: 20th March 2019

Set for release next month, INVISIBLE KINGDOM sees the legitimate dream team of Hugo Award-winning G. Willow Wilson and Eisner Award-winning Christian Ward coming together for an epic space opera with some of the best artwork you’re going to see in a monthly comic book.

Wilson and Ward hit us with two seemingly unconnected stories over the course of this first issue. The first introduces us to Griffs, the pilot of a delivery freighter forced to crash land on an abandoned moon, while the second follows the desperate attempts by a young, naive girl called Ves to become a member of an ancient religious order. Either of these stories on their own would be intriguing enough, but it’s the way they finally intersect in the final pages which adds the real intrigue to this series, and all but guarantees that the reader is going to want to pick up issue two.

As should probably be expected by now, Ward’s artwork is absolutely stunning throughout the course of this first issue, with a typically neon, almost hallucinogenic colour scheme and some distinctly Miyazaki sensibilities. The character and visual design is truly impressive, and while so much modern sci-fi seems obliged to try to make everything as grounded and familiar as possible, Ward and Wilson wisely opt to keep feeling decidedly alien here from start to finish.

Slightly less alien are the themes Wilson’s writing choses to explore. Sure, this is still very much a large-scale space opera with all the pomp that entails, but it also takes an (admittedly abstract) look at the nature of organised religion, something that fans of Wilson’s writing should be no stranger to by now, and an approach which helps to fire up the reader’s mind just as much as Ward’s art fires up their senses.

In terms of the lead characters themselves, Ves definitely shines far brighter than Griffs to this point. And while the bickering, bantering crew of Griffs’ ship manage to provide some humour and energy in a Serenity-esque fashion, it’s Ves and her wide-eyed innocence that really draw you into the story, particularly during her late-issue discovery in the archives of the monastery.

With new science fiction comics being released on a weekly basis, it takes something truly special for a new story to push its way through the crowd and stand out. Thankfully, special is something INVISIBLE KINGDOM has in spades, and whether it’s brash action, quiet contemplation or the way these two themes come crashing together, this is a new series that deserves your full attention.

Rating: 4.5/5.


The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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