Book Review: ‘Invisible Kingdom: Vol 1’ by G. Willow Wilson & Christian Ward

Writer: G. Willow Wilson

Illustrator: Christian Ward

Originally Published by Dark Horse Comics in 2019

Review by Miriam Atkinson

Volume One: Walking the Path (Issues 1-5)

Set in a solar system with four main planets and an array of alien life, Invisible Kingdom’s first volume: Walking the Path is a great blend of science fiction, adventure, emotion and faith.

Beginning with two separate storylines, Vess joins the Siblings of Severity with the Renunciation and becomes a None (or nun). Meanwhile, after crash landing on a moon, Captain Grix must navigate both space and politics to keep her crew safe from the Lux – an Amazon-like sales and courier corporation. Separately Vess and Grix discover pieces of a puzzle which suggest a conspiracy between the two organisations they are involved with – but what will they do with the information?

Faith is an important theme that runs throughout the story. Primarily there is Vess and her belief in walking the path to the Invisible Kingdom. Rather than a real place (so far as I know at this point) the Invisible Kingdom is more akin to enlightenment. Willow-Wilson described it as: “faith in what you can’t see, loyalty of friendship” as well as believing in the truth of one’s cause and being open to the possibility of change. From a storytelling point-of-view I appreciated that Vess and Grix’s plotlines paralleled each other – with belief in a ‘higher’ powerful organisation – but after both women have that belief tested they are forced to decide what the right path truly is.

What first struck me about Invisible Kingdom was how it used colour to tell the story. Grix and her crew spend much of this volume in outer space. In these scenes we are treated to an array of vibrant and swirling psychedelic colours which represent space. In direct contrast, Vess is surrounded by neutral brown tones and muted, more natural, shades of green and blue during her time at the Renunciation. With themes of calm versus chaos, these two distinctive colour palettes highlight the different journeys taken by the two central characters.

As this is the first volume in a setting that is brand new to all readers, I thought the dual storylines were a smart decision by Willow-Wilson and Ward. By giving Vess and Grix two very different backgrounds, it immediately gave the reader a much wider look at this new world they were delving into. The multiple locations and ways of life shown provided a depth and complexity that made this solar system feel like a believable three-dimensional place that could actually exist.

I don’t often delve into the world of graphic novels but Invisible Kingdom definitely made me want to explore this narrative type more. As a sci-fi fan I would recommend this series for those looking for a character driven adventure. For me Invisible Kingdom finds the right blend of character, plot, action and imagery.

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