Review - Isola #1 (@imagecomics)

"Long dream't Crown Awakens four Mark haunted hearts To Isola's Shores."

Fantasy tales come and go, but few ever reach "epic" status. Isola #1 from Image Comics might just be the next one to do it. The issue is written by Brenden Fletcher, illustrated by Karl Kerschl, colored by Msassyk and lettered by Aditya Bidikar.

The captain of the Royal Guard has fled the capital city with the Queen of Maar, suffering under the effects of an evil spell. Captain Rook’s only hope of returning Queen Olwyn to her throne and saving the kingdom from impending war lies on an island half a world away—a place known in myth as Isola, land of the dead.

Fletcher takes the less is more approach in the first issue of Isola by relying on little dialogue to carry the story. That story seems to focus on a royal guard protecting her Queen and attempting to return her to her former glory, but Fletcher doesn't say as much. Instead, he lets the reader figure that out on their own by simply following Captain Rook and Queen Olwyn through fantastic locales. Fletcher paces the issue exceptionally well and doesn't rush anything, keeping a steady drumbeat as the two main character face off against the aforementioned journey. It's clear from Fletcher's approach that the characters inhabit a world teeming with mythology and life, both of which come together beautifully as a fully rendered and well-thought out world.

While Fletcher's script is fluid it's Kerschl's artwork that's just jaw-droppingly gorgeous. The book's art style evokes memories of animated Disney movies with how effortless it looks, yet Kerschl still manages to breathe a sense of mythology into the renderings. Kerschl's style is brilliant at carrying the pages where there's little or no dialogue, giving the reader plenty of beautiful landscapes to soak in. And the way the characters interact with one another and the landscape is pretty breathtaking in its scope, with Kerschl blending the two together quite effortlessly. What stands out the most is the tiger and the way Msassyk inverts the colors somewhat, pitching her as an almost dark neon version of a typical tiger.

Isola #1 appears to be a fairly epic fantasy in the making. Captain Rook is thrust into an incredibly daunting situation where she's serving someone who can't verbally instruct her. Fletcher's script is tight and engaging, keeping the reader's curiosity piqued enough that they'll be looking forward to what's next. Kerschl's artwork makes illustrating look easy by rendering the characters with softer lines that blend well together. Isola #1 is a fantastic first issue that's definitely worth checking out.

Isola #1 is available April 4.