Invisible Republic 6 (September 2015)

Invisible Republic #6

There’s some very good stuff this issue. Not all of it, but some of it. Bechko and Hardman have get a couple good surprises in—the most impressive aspect of Invisible Republic (so far) is how thoughtful and controlled their narrative moves. It almost reads like an adaptation of something else—a novel—thanks to that thoughtfulness. There’s a depth to the comic, even though some of it seems standard.

For example, this issue is mostly talking heads. It’s Maia in the journal flashback doing talking heads, it’s the reporters in the present doing talking heads. Neither element is particularly interesting (save the two or three reveals the writers get in) but Hardman’s art is strong enough it doesn’t matter much. He creates a perfectly reasonable sci-fi setting for these events, which would read (in summary) like twentieth century European political history otherwise.

The one big problem with the comic is the disconnect between Hardman’s style and the present day reporter protagonist. The guy is too lame and Hardman draws him too clean. The reporter, Babb, is a punchline, yet Hardman doesn’t have that kind of humor in his art.

It’s a solid, gorgeous book.

CREDITS

Writers, Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko; artist, Hardman; colorist, Jordan Boyd; editor, Brenda Scott Royce; publisher, Image Comics.

Invisible Republic 4 (June 2015)

Invisible Republic #4

The present continues to be a problem in Invisible Republic. Dystopian, otherworldly newspaper stories just don’t have much potential apparently. Especially not when the solution is simple–either Maia dies (regardless of how) or she lives. She might be some kind of mythic figure or a rich lady or a poor lady, but there are limited options.

It appears Bechko and Hardman understand those limitations because they keep making the present stuff more complicated. In this issue, the male reporter gets a female sidekick. She’s a better character than him, which seems like a good sign, but then their joint investigation is boring.

Meanwhile, the flashback to Maia working in bees is good. The writers have a good idea for her story, they just put it in a somewhat useless frame. Hopefully that frame will get better, but it’s actually been getting worse.

As always, some gorgeous art from Hardman.

CREDITS

Writers, Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko; artist, Hardman; colorist, Jordan Boyd; editor, Brenda Scott Royce; publisher, Image Comics.

Invisible Republic 3 (May 2015)

Invisible Republic #3

Little bit too much future stuff going on this issue of Invisible Republic. There’s a whole action sequence with the reporter. Hardman’s art is intricate for the action sequence, which has two parts in the issue and is bigger than anything in the flashback.

The flashback’s somewhat stronger, but opening with the reporter in a predicament makes Maia’s narration lose some impact. She’s not the most exciting thing going on this issue, which has a couple reasons for existing. It’s a bridging issue where all Hardman and Bechko have to do is hit two vista points on the bridge and they’ll be all set for something further down.

It’s fine, it’s good. It just feels very artificial, which might just be the way Republic is going to go with the flashback structuring.

Great art, of course, helps. Hardman’s future manages to be boring and scary, the flashbacks ugly and sentimental.

CREDITS

Writers, Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko; artist, Hardman; colorist, Jordan Boyd; editor, Brenda Scott Royce; publisher, Image Comics.

Invisible Republic 2 (April 2015)

Invisible Republic #2

This issue of Invisible Republic has a little too much flashback and not enough with the reporter in the present. The problem is how little the flashback stuff actually matters; sure, the girl is sympathetic, but only because she’s in an unfair situation and she has a psycho future-dictator for a cousin.

The stuff in the present is actually, if underrepresented as far as the narrative, less interesting than the flashback. The present feels too 1984-lite at times, while the stuff in the past feels like sci-fi caste system stuff. Far more interesting.

Hardman and Bechko have put a lot of thought into Invisible Republic, so much they’re clearing spinning their wheels at times to see how Hardman’s going to visualize that spinning (well, he visualizes it well). The enthusiasm gets the comic past its various bumps and it’s an engaging read.

But flashback cliffhangers are weak.

CREDITS

Writers, Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko; artist, Hardman; colorist, Jordan Boyd; publisher, Image Comics.

Invisible Republic 1 (March 2015)

Invisible Republic #1

I’m going to be cynical for a second and remember Orson Scott Card did a spin-off of his Ender’s Game novels where he told the story of the brother turned benevolent dictator. Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko’s Invisible Republic does the story of the cousin turned regular crappy dictator.

It’s not, from what I can tell (I’ve never read aforementioned spin-off novels), a knock-off. There’s a really good framing device–after the dictator’s reign falls, the press flocks to this small moon (it’s also a sci-fi story, a similarity to the Ender’s Game stuff) and the issue is this reporter’s investigation.

It gives Republic a post-WWII movie mixed with some very 1984 sci-fi visualizations, even though it’s set in the far future.

Nice dialogue from Hardman and Bechko, great art from Hardman. Republic’s familiar sounding and all, but expertly executed sci-fi comics.

CREDITS

Writers, Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko; artist, Hardman; colorist, Jordan Boyd; publisher, Image Comics.

Deep Gravity 1 (July 2014)

Deep Gravity #1

Deep Gravity is missing something rather important–a hook. It’s a sci-fi series about people working on a different planet, mining its resources and bringing them back to Earth. The explanations all sound scientific, but it doesn’t seem to actually be scientific, so the hook isn’t it being “hard science” sci-fi.

The protagonist is some guy who goes to the planet to talk to his ex-girlfriend. It’s a three year trip so he’s dedicating six years just to talk to her again. Their relationship is fairly lame so it’s not a hook either.

Then there’s the art, from Fernando Baldó. This other world is some crazy mostly ocean place where plants and animals are the same thing. Apparently. Except none of the designs are particularly good. Baldó’s got a lot of issues with people, places, things. So the art’s not the hook.

So far Gravity’s painfully mediocre.

C 

CREDITS

Writers, Mike Richardson, Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko; artist, Fernando Baldó; colorist, Nick Filardi; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Shantel LaRocque and Scott Allie; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 12 (August 2013)

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So did Boom! cancel,Cataclysm, did the writers quit or did the license go away? Something obviously happened. This issue jumps three years ahead of the previous one, then another five years from where it opens.

Bechko and Hardman follow Professor Milo (from the second movie) so they can avoid having to have Charlton Heston appear. He gets a mention, but then they focus the issue on what was going on with the spaceship during the second movie. To explain the third, in other words.

It seems like the natural last issue for the series, but they seem to have jumped ahead quite a bit. Cast members from Cataclysm sort of pop in for cameos, but it’s much more a movie tie-in. It’s trying to logically explain what Heston only agreeing to second sequel if the world ended broke.

It’s well-written enough, but it’s a terrible last issue.

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; penciller, Damian Couceiro; inker, Mariano Taibo; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 11 (July 2013)

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Big reveals, small reveals. Along with the biggest of them all–the twelfth issue is the finale, something I didn’t realize.

Bechko and Hardman have always have problems with their Apes series because they’re direct–sort of direct–prequels to the first movie and they still haven’t really got everything set up. The ape society is still too… believable. The movie didn’t have a believable thing going on. Bechko and Hardman are moving towards something similar to it, but haven’t gotten close yet.

They do resolve the talking human and a lot of the political intrigue, but none of it plays particularly well. They give Couceiro way too much to do in the second half of the issue. The riot scene and its resolution could have actually been an issue on its own. There’s just not room for it here.

The comic’s got its strong points, but it’s definitely stumbling.

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; penciller, Damian Couceiro; inker, Mariano Taibo; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Deron Bennett; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 10 (June 2013)

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Maybe killing the talking human is why Cornelius doesn’t remember her when Chuck Heston shows up, but it’s hard to say. But she doesn’t die this issue, just gets her throat slit. Meaning maybe her vocal cords are damaged… which seems like it’s been in an Apes comic somewhere before.

The problem with this issue is boredom. Bechko and Hardman don’t have anything exciting going on, no exploration, just politics. Oh, and they bring back some guys from the series before Cataclysm. They just don’t recap it so the whole reveal confuses.

Couceiro’s art is still excellent, he just doesn’t have anything good to draw here. It’s not like when he doesn’t have a lot, here he simply doesn’t have anything new or challenging.

The writers have reached a point where all they have left is the political intrigue plot line and it’s not enough to keep the series running.

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Deron Bennett; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

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