Invisible Kingdom Vol. 1 review – a bright new space-opera

In the latest series from Dark Horse’s Berger Books imprint, two of comics’ brightest talents team-up for the extraordinary new sci-fi series Invisible Kingdom. In a small solar system in a far-flung galaxy, two women – one a young religious acolyte and the other, a hard-bitten freighter pilot – uncover a conspiracy between the leaders of the most dominant religion and an all-consuming mega-corporation. On the run from reprisals on both sides, this unlikely pair must decide where their loyalties lie – and risk plunging the world into anarchy if they reveal the truth.

Both the writer and artist of this series have built a strong reputation amongst the comic crowd in the past few years. G. Willow Wilson is best known as the writer and one of the co-creators of Ms. Marvel which has become one of Marvel’s bestselling series and earned Wilson several awards including the Hugo Award. Christian Ward meanwhile has garnered much acclaim for his collaboration with Matt Fraction on ODY-C and the recent Black Bolt solo series with Saladin Ahmed which earned the pair an Eisner award for Best New Series. With this creative team alone, Invisible Kingdom already has a strong appeal to the comic reading public and the content more than lives up to the hype.

Wilson has had great success in comics exploring cultural differences and identity. Here, she gets to take these themes to a whole new level. This is a frightening world with corrupt organisations on a cosmic scale and religious groups that aren’t what they seem. Vess – whose experience in this world and the prejudice she endures from within The Siblings of Severity almost as soon as she is initiated – is the perfect character to explore these themes. The interplay with the hard-edged Grix makes for some great interplay and religious exploration. Even small moments like Grix scolding Vess for not taking off her vestments after the corruption of her order has been revealed as she still holds onto the hope that there’s still good in her faith are very impactful. The main strength though comes from Wilson pushing these characters to breaking point and exposing who they are deep down for better or worse.

Ward is a perfect fit on the illustration front. He has excelled at depicting space opera and sci-fi in his past works, and he creates some truly memorable images in this comic. His layouts are meticulous in detail and order – giving every page an intricacy that is hard to match. His liberal use of colours helps convey a sense of wonder that a cosmic tale like Invisible Kingdom requires and makes every page pop. In addition, his skill at unique alien design and mechanical features are invaluable alongside Wilson’s writing for putting this world together.

Invisible Kingdom is another winning entry in Berger Book’s impressive line-up and one of the best sci-fi comics in recent memory. All fans of the genre need to pick this up.

Invisible Kingdom Volume 1 is out 7 November from Berger Books

9781506712277 – P/B £16.99

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