An irresistible sci-fi spectacle, delightfully trippy imagery complements an impeccably intense storyline in Invisible Kingdom #1. Science fiction is clearly G. Willow Wilson’s (Ms. Marvel, Wonder Woman) jam, as she sets two seemingly disparate lives on an exquisite collision course through the misdeeds of corrupt corporate overlords and a not-so-altruistic religious order.
In simultaneous storylines, Wilson’s two protagonists are having bad days. Due to a preventable mechanical failure, Grix and her crew are forced to crash-land her cargo vessel on one of the moons of Qari. The captain is none too happy that the Lux Corporation’s neglect led to the crash and subsequently delayed delivery of their cargo, and she’s just been reminded that this delay will reflect poorly on her performance evaluation. Meanwhile on Duni, Vess is completing her excruciating pilgrimage through the capital city to finally reach the monastery and become an initiate to the Sisters of Severity. Despite her unshakable faith, it’s a path fraught with uncertainty and dangers as she stumbles through the streets blindfolded and dependent upon the seldom-found kindness of strangers to literally point her toward her goal.
Grix and Vess possess a similar confident determination of purpose that allows them to know their decisions are correct and stick with them despite the formidable obstacles they face. Grix and her crew are repairing the ship, and fortunately there are no injuries, but they’ll have to face Lux Corporation penalties for their tardiness. Vess recites passages from the Book of Renunciation that bolster her faith as she puts one cautious foot in front of the other.
It’s no accident that this determination is the very trait that’s about to turn their lives upside down, create a life-altering moral dilemma, and lead them on a direct path toward each other. Wilson’s detailed worldbuilding shines through these parallel storylines as readers share Grix’s frustrations and sympathize with Vess’ crisis of faith. While assessing the damage to the storage hold, Grix accidentally discovers an encrypted metadata file in the ship’s manifest. After reaching the monastery and taking the veil of a none, Vess is assigned bookkeeping duties by Mother Proxima when she accidentally discovers an encrypted metadata file. And we can be sure nothing good comes to citizens who discover encrypted metadata files that imply corporate misdeeds.
Christian Ward (ODY-C), who provides the issue’s surreal art and psychedelic colors, is at the height of his creative powers in this series debut. (Note: the two incredible full-page panels alone are easily worth the price of the book.) From a lunar landscape to gritty city streets, Ward’s hostile yet beautiful environments are living, breathing characters that perfectly accompany Wilson’s reluctant heroines along their soon-converging paths. While you might expect a gritty space opera to feature a dark, metallic color palette, Ward gives us the opposite with a color spectrum leaning toward neon as if to underscore the pervading commercialism of this world and the severe consequences of its inhabitants’ extreme materialism.
Wilson’s gripping mystery in space and Ward’s captivating art make Invisible Kingdom #1 a “far out” sci-fi tour de force.