INVISIBLE KINGDOM #1 / Writer: G. Willow Wilson / Artist: Christian Ward / Letterer: Sal Cipriano / Publisher: Dark Horse – Berger Books / Release date: March 20, 2019
One Story, Two Journeys
Invisible Kingdom #1 is a story of two journeys, each of them founded in duty but leading to buried secrets. One journey is that of Grix. She works as a pilot for the Lux corporation, a sort of interplanetary Amazon (I already want a Futurama crossover). The other journey belongs to Vess, a would-be follower of a religion known as The Renunciation, whose blindfolded followers are known as Nones. Their stories, primed to intertwine under the inventive script of G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel, Wonder Woman) and flaring sci-fi visuals of Christian Ward (ODY-C, Black Bolt), make for a comics debut that is anything but invisible.
The parallels between Grix and Vess’s journeys are as thematic as they are visual. Both try to get from point A to point B, but each requires drive and determination along the way. An early page shows off the faces of Grix and Vess, each in a state of deep focus. In Grix’s case, she and her crew work to haul commercial cargo between two planets on behalf of Lux, but they crash land on a moon. Their sci-fi road trip is a double-shot of corporate loyalty—the customers ordering the packages and the crew risking their lives for a paycheck. Vess, on the other hand, is on a seemingly purer path, wandering blindfolded for days toward a monastery in the sky. The Nones, her quad-sexual Roolian race, and her status as a new recruit all carry the baggage of others’ expectations.
Wilson’s construction of holy verses, None hierarchy, neon consumerism, and dogmatic asceticism feel comfortably lived-in. She achieves that with the help of a winning combination of Ward’s sprawling character perspectives and colorful layouts. His ability to blow up the spread with opposing full page images of Grix’s ship crashing downward against Vess blindly climbing upward is one of several eye-popping skills on display. When Vess reaches the Monastery, the gutters, which began as conventional rectangles, bend and change shape according to the surroundings. Panels themselves become rounded within the Monastery’s view-expanding halls. Additionally, when ascending to the study of its matriarchal Proxima Mother, the panel edges turn into little stairs.
Here’s another worldbuilding nod: there are kind people in the cities and petty bullies in the Monastery. One’s title or occupation does not necessarily determine what kind of character they are, a perspective that promises to hold more surprises as worlds collide. Back matter in this issue includes character and ship designs as well as an introductory essay from Wilson about the comic’s influences and goals. Editor Karen Berger, head of Dark Horse’s Berger Books imprint, ushers in the next Saga, and we should all say thank you.
Verdict: 5 out of 5.
Thomas is a teen services librarian who reads way too many comics. He can be found gobbling pancakes at the nearest diner with Jessica Cruz, Forsythe Jones III, Jane Foster, and Hellboy. He reviews media for the public here and graphic novels for librarians at No Flying, No Tights.