Invisible Kingdom: Volume I - Walking The Path
Written by: G. Willow Wilson
Art by: Christian Ward
Letters by: Sal Cipriano
Reviewed by: Joe Bones
Genre: Science-Fiction / Comic Book
This Sci-Fi adventure, from writer G. Willow Wilson, is a multiple 2020 Eisner Award nominee. The story follows two women as they each search for truth. The two most influential entities in a small solar system are Lux, a multi-billion dollar corporation, and a religion called the Reunification. Grix works for Lux as the captain of the transport ship Sundog. Essentially, Lux is an interplanetary Amazon and the crew of the Sundog are the UPS drivers. Grix is happy with her job, until she discovers a discrepancy in her shipping manifest that points to a deeper conspiracy. Meanwhile, Vess has traveled to the planet Duni, where both Lux headquarters and the Reunification’s church are located. Vess believes her destiny is to join the Reunification and become a None, a member of the church’s most devout followers. The Reunification preaches that by putting oneself above the material world, a follower of their doctrine will reach the Invisible Kingdom, the religion’s version of enlightenment or heaven. Vess hopes that by following the path to the Invisible Kingdom she will find her life’s true meaning. Unfortunately, the only truth she discovers is another part of the same conspiracy Grix stumbled upon. Circumstances beyond their control force the two women to work together to reveal the conspiracy to the rest of the solar system.
The story has a lot of cool elements that set this series apart from other Sci-Fi properties. One detail I really liked was the spacesuit helmets. The suits’ life support systems form a bubble of air that floats around the head of the wearer. Although all the alien races are bipedal humanoids, they all have interesting and distinct character designs. The characters are just human enough for the story’s emotional moments to be relatable while still being visually different from human beings. Wilson subtly accomplishes building up the world of Invisible Kingdom by having details of the planetary system’s culture revealed through dialogue and plot development. Background information is subtly filled in as the reader enjoys the story.
The art in Invisible Kingdom has a surrealist look and many of the panels are drawn with a modern perspective. All the settings and backgrounds feel immense while the emotional moments are intimately drawn. The space flight scenes are drawn in such a way that they resemble pop art. Artist Christian Ward unifies all these different artistic styles with his color palette. Ward uses psychedelic colors that bring his modernistic illustrations to life. His colors give the world of Invisible Kingdom a larger-than-life feel. This provides a nice contrast to the emotional moments and intense sequences scattered throughout the story.
Space nuns and inter-planetary delivery drivers might sound like an odd premise, but under Wilson’s pen these concepts really shine. Invisible Kingdom may not be Wilson’s strongest work, but there are many enjoyable moments and cool concepts at play. The story feels both unique and familiar. The comic features universal concepts and common Sci-Fi themes, set in an original world, with phenomenal art to back it all up. Don’t just take my word for it, Forbidden Kingdom was nominated for several Eisner Awards. It would go on to win honors for Best New Series and Best Painter/Digital Artist. After finishing the first volume, although I personally wasn’t blown away, I was left excited to see read the next chapter in the story.