Invisible Kingdom #3
Dark Horse Comics
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Christian Ward
G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward further the immersive world of Invisible Kingdom in this third installment. The story ticks along at a satisfying pace as the two main plot threads (and characters) finally collide to create a satisfying experience.
While rather predictable, this issue delivers on the promises of its predecessors. it consistently deepens the stakes and conflicts of the characters, while dispersing some of that tension with effective comic relief. The wiley, wet trusting freighter captain, Grix find her crew between a rock and hard place. She makes a decision that will either expose a conspiracy or cost them their lives. Meanwhile, the religious zealot, Vess, is given a not-cryptic-warning about her place in the Renunciation. While the issue culminates on a note readers may find compelling, it’s not done so without some awkward moments. On the run, Vess falls down, but reaches out her hand, a full panel depicts Grix reaching for it and the dialogue is terribly cliche at the moment.
The characters are filling out, but I’m still not completely onboard with the crew of the Sundog freighter. Similarly, I cannot invest one-hundred-percent in Vess. The crew of the Sundog is, perhaps, overly archetypal in their roles. The result is characters who feel like place holders rather than complex characters. Vess, while seemingly clever, does little on a page that warrants her position in the Renunciation’s hierarchy. This causes the dissonance felt by this reader.
The world and art depicted in Invisible Kingdom are really what makes this a comic work reading. There is a particularly vivid and enjoyable full-page panel about half-way through the issue. It gives Ward free range in the endless bounds of space, and while it borders on impressionistic art, I encourage readers to soak in the page as it is, in my opinion, the highlight of the issue.
While Invisible Kingdom #3 contains many essential elements of any effective plot, I find this issue to be painfully predictable. Characters and events in this issue act and proceed in the manner in which I expected all along. This is, perhaps, the paradox of quality fiction. Each event, each action must be surprising, but also feel inevitable to readers. Sadly, this issue did not live up to this elusive expectation. Instead, it is a predictable romp through space, and while beautiful in art and style, it offers little by way of innovative story-telling.