Story: Brenden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl
Artist: Karl Kerschl
Lettering: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Image Comics
Review by Jameson Hampton
It didn’t take much to sell me on Isola, a new fantasy series coming out from Image next month. Just seeing the gorgeous art would have been enough to get me to pick up the first issue. And, when I read that it was inspired by Hayao Miyazaki, I was completely on board.
Isola #1 has high fantasy written all over it, in the best way, and it’s named after the mythical world of the dead. It follows the story of Rook, the captain of the guard. Rook is fleeing the city and avoiding the hunting clan, all while trying to protect her Queen (who has been cursed into the form of a black and blue striped tiger). Getting to know the two main characters when only one can speak is an interesting dynamic. We learn a lot about Rook through the fantastic art—her expressions, her posture. We get a sense for how much responsibility she carries on her shoulders. We get an appreciation for both her strength and her gentleness.
The world-building, too, is skillfully crafted and it has everything to do with the art and the vibrant colors, which are truly fantastic. While not much is explained fully in these first 32 pages, Isola #1 poses a lot of intriguing questions. The Queen is under the effects of a curse, and she and Rook can’t go back to their homeland, but why? They come across the corpse of giant bird—a god? What happened to it? Who is the (very Ghibli-esque!) wise old man that they meet and how does he know so much about them? Even the titular land of Isola is only mentioned in cryptic and mysterious ways. Even though these questions don’t yet have answers, they all contribute to the feeling that I’ve been allowed to peek into a rich, magical world, wholly unlike anywhere I’ve ever been.
It’s fitting that the details of this magical world be unfurled to the readers slowly, because of how long in the making this story really is. Creators Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl, who previously worked together on Gotham Academy, are actually childhood friends who have been telling stories like this together for a long time. I can’t get over how much I love that. Isola is the culmination of years of childhood imagination and I can’t wait to see what directions it ventures off into.
Verdict? Buy it.
It’s not every day that a comic comes along that feels so rich, so full of history and magic and wonder and potential. I have a feeling that my imagination will be revisiting the world of Isola for a long time.
Isola #1 comes out April 4, 2018, so plan your pull list accordingly!