Isola #1 Review
“Start late and get out early.”
“Start late and get out early” are words to live by as a storyteller.
In the case of Isola, storytellers Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl have done exactly that, perhaps even to an extreme, as readers are dropped in on a journey that is already well underway. The reason of said journey is a mystery to start, but the masterful use of context clues dropped in throughout Rook’s dialogue and the visual relationship between her and her black and teal tiger companion give an immediate impression of the duos hierarchy. Even in moments of exposition, the divulgence of information is subtle and natural in its delivery, which ultimately makes the experience that much more enjoyable as it feels rewarding.
Isola is a page-turner in every sense of the term. As a first issue, its job is to set the metaphorical hook in any “fishies” that decide to nibble at its bait. Fletcher and Kerschl once again succeed with expert flair in this department, and the proverbial tug on the line goes largely unnoticed. The first few pages are the slowest in terms of action, and yet, with no dialogue until the fourth page, the book affords the reader the opportunity to enjoy the artwork at an individually preferred pace. As the dialogue is introduced, it merely affirms and solidifies the relationships between the characters to one another, as well as to the audience.
Make every frame count.
Kerschl’s artwork is as on point as ever, mixing familiar forms of Japanese anime and design with a medieval European tonality, and a decidedly Tolkien-esque flair here. The color by Msassyk only enriches the world and even serves as division of the three-act structure. It’s nuances like these, using the color palette to progress the story, the lettering by Aditya Bidikar subtly changing with tone, and the panel dynamic to convey true danger, that made this book an absolute joy to read.
This is one of those instances of true collaboration where everyone showed up and did their job.
What, no criticisms?
Art is subjective and storytelling can always be improved. It’s no secret that Brenden Fletcher has a knack for writing strong, female characters, which makes the overall feeling of the character Rook a bit of a surprise in that she doesn’t feel whole yet. She’s strong and capable, as shown on the page, but never offers a true sense of her character as she almost contradicts her own establishment along the way. Her face is (refreshingly) scarred and battered, her ability in combat has clearly been tested and moreover, proved. And yet, one would assume that a certain level of discipline accompanies those lessons carved in her face, lessons she seems to break continually as she loses her cool and barks at her queen. Though she quickly corrects herself, the whole “hot head” character trope felt like Fletcher’s go-to to push the story forward, or even, at times, to pause before the next threat was introduced. It’s an interesting ploy that could prove to be an enjoyable staple in this series if its use is more stringently relegated and true to the character(s). With anything that breathes life, time will undoubtedly define the world and how its inhabitants react.
Catch of the Day
With that, Isola successfully sets the hook. It should be quite enjoyable to see the events that got Captain Rook and the tiger, Queen Olwyn, to this juncture, as well as to join them as they embark on the road ahead. The richness of the world, the long journey spanning the continent, and the evolution of Rook are set up in such a way that passing on this book simply isn’t an option.
And if nothing else, Isola will be beautiful to look at.