Page 45 Review by Chris Gardiner
Life on the colony-moon of Maidstone isn't the gleaming, frictionless future which certain science fictions promised us. Grindingly exploited by its mother-colony, it's a place of food-stamps, indentured servitude, and political unrest. Recovering from its second violent regime change in living memory, no one can agree whether Maidstone's deposed dictator Arthur McBride was an inevitability, a hero, or a monster.
So when journalist Nicholas Babb finds a diary recounting the untold history of McBride's regime, he thinks it'll resurrect his career. Especially when he learns it was written by McBride's own cousin, Maia Reveron: a woman methodically erased from history. But Babb is about to learn that Maidstone's past is buried in a shallow grave, and it doesn't intend to rest in peace.
INVISIBLE REPUBLIC is as much political thriller as it is space opera; part Fatherland, part Star Wars. McBride seems built from secrets. Even Maia, the person who knew him best, has to suppose his motives, and piece together his schemes. Like the best science fiction, INVISIBLE REPUBLIC treats its future like history: intricate, contradictory, defiant.
Bechko, Hardman and Ponsor are meticulous world-builders, rendering Maidstone with such intimacy that it's difficult to believe the place is invented. Bechko never allows her rigorous excavation of its daily life to undermine the dense plotting, while Hardman's compositions are startlingly generous. He can pack an improbable amount of detail and incident into a single, clear panel. Ponsor's colours conduct the worn, lived-in Maidstone atmosphere, but grow suddenly rich to highlight moments that are genuine and warm. Check out the jars of honey in issue 5, so thickly golden they'll make you salivate.
INVISIBLE REPUBLIC is the good stuff: compelling, convincing, and complex. Strongly recommended to anyone who enjoys politics, history, messy science-fiction, or restless, developed characters.