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COMIC BOOK REVIEW: Invisible Republic #4



Story by: Gabriel Hardman & Corinna Bechko
Art by: Gabriel Hardman
Colors by: Jordan Boyd
Cover by: Gabriel Hardman
4.5/ 5

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To sum it all up..

CONTEXT and HONEY Gabriel Hardman, Corinna Bechko and Jordan Boyd continue to unravel the hidden histories of the pre-McBride and even the early decades of human-space colonization in Invisible Republic #4. Similar to the previous chapters, the inner fleshes of two epochs are beginning to peel slowly but surely. Present-day reporter Croger Babb’s prima donna […]

Posted June 29, 2015 by




Gabriel Hardman, Corinna Bechko and Jordan Boyd continue to unravel the hidden histories of the pre-McBride and even the early decades of human-space colonization in Invisible Republic #4. Similar to the previous chapters, the inner fleshes of two epochs are beginning to peel slowly but surely. Present-day reporter Croger Babb’s prima donna is finally matched with his fellow reporter, Woronov, whose mindset in her profession is apparently more grounded, focused, traditional, hands-on, and to some extent, “objective” than Babb’s so-called privileged and opportunistic view, and way of life to Woronov’s hands-on and journalistic-social relevance paves way to the another dimension: the battle of contextual comprehension. Bobb’s POV is selfish but he must collaborate with the female counterpart to dig deeper on his so-called “truth” about the fallen dictator. There, another new character is introduced, Mr. Jun. He is the custodian of almost anything from the disgraced despot down to the early times of the lunar colonization. This is where the creative team sets the “emotional tone” of knowing the past and how to view its history.

That’s the main problem of perspective in history—how to put the past into context as shown in the dialogues of the reporters and the so-called archivist. The former are journalists alright, but their ranges of reportage are in present tense, or jokingly as “history in a hurry”. If ever they want to dwell in the past, it is called “investigative journalism” of sorts, doing long and supposedly extensive “research”. Here, it is still possible that the modern practice of journalism MAY continue to the far future. However, the reporters in this series are outsiders and viewing the happenings the within with the outsiders’ POVs. On the other hand, the custodian’s words are littered with the elements of viewing the past: nostalgia, some past events were considered “golden” or “frozen”; distortions, this is “bad” practice but often than not, governments basically “lie” to hide the unsavory acts; and sense of appreciation, the first and succeeding actions of the past generations are judged on the context of their times, not on present-day or bias views that created animosities, if not misunderstanding, between societies whose cultures, shared pasts and views are vast and somehow, unique of its own. That’s why Mr. Jun pointed out the colony’s oldest relic and the replies afterwards point to the last point: understand and even emphasize first the society and its past before judging it with finality.

Of course, we witness the battle of interpretations, “my view versus the others’”. Historians are not a bunch of consensual types of the finality of interpretations (or even conclusions) unlike most scientists and mathematicians whose findings can be replicate in a controlled atmosphere with a set of strict, rigorous and tasking procedures. McBride’s views are now at clash with his cousin’s personal journal. What more with the people who worked with him, opposed and challenged him, connived and collaborated with him, and the rest of the contemporaries who lived, endured, witnessed, and affected directly and indirectly before, during and after the dictatorial regime. These sources are primary, the most sought after evidences historians and students of history want the most. But their views truly clash over one subject alone, what more with complicated topics? That’s the beauty, I believe, with this current Invisible Republic chapter. It challenges readers not to take things as heaven sent, particularly the calls of collective emotional change the rabble-rousers would be “monsters” want from their followers and the majority of the society. Furthermore, it helps us make suspicious on the so-called “official” or “canon” in the narrative for these are used to justify the leaders’ ascension, the ideological institutionalization, and the existing powers’ ruling status quo that sanitized the undesirable (but truthful) facts/evidences that could embarrass them. No wonder there are some groups who are equally interested with Maia’s secret journal.

Speaking of the cousin, we witness her days in the streets without Arthur and even survived a supposed terrorist attack while getting away with a bottle of honey. Yes, she ends up as an apprentice with the honey guild members who are kind enough to help ascend her current socio-economic status quo. Naturally, such rare opportunity is considered a heaven-sent, but naturally, this is BEFORE her cousin’s ascension to political power. Perhaps, Maia’s story is a “calm before the storm” moment, though eagle-eyed readers see her face in her cousin’s revolutionary days as a possible cliffhanger to the next issue and the finale of the first story arc as well.

Issue four’s essay feature is about PLASTICS written by Bechko that really connects to the storyline itself. Not only the product and its versatility but even the essence of contextualization is emphasized once again. True, we take almost anything and everything for granted to the point of forgetting or being naïve (or worse, stupid) enough that many of the stuffs we cherish now did not exist or benefit before. The much maligned product is used almost everywhere in our current lives, but the co-author wants the readers to remind us that without plastic and even gasoline, our advancements as a human race would be minimal at best, though we might living in a much environmentally-sound world then if we use less plastic and gasoline. There are always the consequences of our collective action.

Unlike the earlier behind-the-scene coloring and artistic collaborative efforts of Boyd and Hardman, we are treated this time with “emotions”, a one-page explanation how the two artists make sure their artistic executions bring out the “perfect” facial emotional portrayals most of the characters involve should and must possess, especially in times of tension and drama that help “Invisible Republic” an excellent read of science fiction dystopia. Hardman’s minimal lines and facial structures are almost real like that are opposed understandably with his former superhero Marvel years, and combined with the four-color schema by the colorist to the characters, background, and the atmospheres of the past and present times in the lunar colony Avalon that result to an engaging story of deception, nostalgia, political subterfuge, false hopes, and yes, HONEY.

As always, the language used is still the series’ main weakness. The unique ones are the names of the social and economic castes that define the continuing bleakness of the future. Probably, Bechko and Hardman may come up some creative and fascinating futuristic terminologies in the succeeding arcs since they will tell this for thirty something issues as mentioned in the issue’s letter column.

Invisible Republic #4 is a continuing tale of excellent reading. It never falters like the previous chapters at all. It is time to rethink what we really want and desire as a human species in our dream of advancing ourselves beyond our primary home, planet Earth.

Paul Ramos



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