Advance Review: Invisible Kingdom #1 Delivers The Sci-Fi Goods

by Rachel Bellwoar

Having a package arrive late or damaged is the worst but is it worth people losing their lives over? While I’m not sure that every mail delivery has such high stakes (sometimes it really is the UPS guy tossing your package instead of setting it down gently–-to every postal worker who doesn’t do this, you don’t know how much it’s appreciated), maybe it’s more common in the future, when Invisible Kingdom #1takes place.

The new comic series from Dark Horse pairs-up Ms. Marvel’s G. Willow Wilson and Black Bolt’s Christian Ward for a sci-fi drama split between two protagonists. While I know enough to realize that’s a big deal, this is actually my first time reading anything of either of their works. Right off the bat, Ward’s colors do so much to take you out of your comfort zone and set this world apart from anything that’s familiar. Charged and pulsing with life, they bring an immediate energy to a situation that’s wired from the start.

Grix’s spaceship is crashing and if she doesn’t pull off an emergency landing, boxes won’t be the only thing dented by the impact (Grix speaks with total confidence but letterer, Sal Cipriano’s, speech bubbles betray how much the ship is shaking). Grix works for Lux, a company mirrored after Amazon but with a more sinister edge. There’s no bigger force in online shopping than Amazon (and the company’s been targeted by a few sci-fi shows recently, including Doctor Who and Phillip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams) but while it’s possible to walk down the street and not be bombarded by Amazon logos, that’s not the case with Lux.

Grix was meant to be heading to the planet, Duni, and it’s where we meet our second main character, Vess. Vess is wearing a blindfold and trying to find her way to the monastery. Part of the imitation process for becoming a “none” (a pun you could pick apart for hours), the ellipses in her speech initially read as nerves but later get explained as the result of fasting. Where Grix’s dealings in space are more what you expect from sci-fi, Vess’ story introduces faith and a new religion, and is the one that has me hooked on Invisible Kingdom. Ward has designed a truly striking robe and headpiece for the nones to wear (it almost makes me think of a beekeeper’s suit) and while Vess doesn’t look any more alien than anyone else, there’s the promise of a rich backstory around the fixation people have with her being Roolian.

Grix’s storyline benefits from a second read, too. Currently what stands out is what little support she gets from her crew. Accustomed to shows like Firefly and Battlestar Galactica, where your crew is your family (or, at the very least, your team), Grix is questioned and doubted at every turn by crew members who don’t want to accept that their transport isn’t going according to plan. Assuming Duni remains their final destination, I hope this means she and Vess will cross paths soon.

Invisible Kingdom goes on sale March 20th from Dark Horse Comics.

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