By Sam King
Isola #1 is a comic with majestic artwork, an interesting story, and lots of mysticism. The art reads highly of the classic art present in works by Hayao Miyazaki. It isn’t a Japanese anime art style, but it has a lot of the sophistication of color choice, particularly in the representation of animals. The story has a solid base to go from, and the artwork is truly something to behold. Even if the story were to be much less interesting, select panels of the art could be sold as individual prints and still be amazing on their own.
Isola #1 is a new adventure/fantasy title by Image Comics. I had actually been looking forward to this one for several weeks based on a sneak peek and the cover art. Recently I also read the five-part prologue that had debuted part by part in Motor Crush. The prologue has now been collected and is readable on the official Isola website. There is a large gap between the prologue and this issue however, leading to my wondering a lot of questions at the end of it.
There is a variety of colors used, which is great. The balance between lighter colors, reddish tones, shadows, and cool night blues keeps the eye pausing in awe, but also progressing at a steady pace with the story to see what comes next. One of the best aspects of the series so far is the crisp artwork and the excellent handling of mystic elements. The crown jewel as far as art goes so far though is Queen Olwyn in tiger form.
In terms of story, there are a lot of gaps that appear if you haven’t read the Prologue and there are still some even if you have. By itself, this is a story of a relatively young girl, whose name is Rook (although it is never mentioned in the first issue), journeying somewhere with a tiger that is addressed like royalty and named Queen Olwyn. There is danger and there are some attack sequences. By the end you’re left wondering: where are they going? Why is this person a tiger? (since she is addressed by the guard with some difficulty it becomes apparent that Olwyn has not always been a tiger) Also, what happened that is making them journey away?
Knowing what happens in the prologue, you still end up wondering where they are heading, why Olwyn is a tiger, and what happened to the country they were at previously. The prologue shows that Olwyn is in fact human and a ruler. Rook, is appointed Captain of the Guard after the former captain is killed, despite her inexperience. Also, that Olwyn and Rook already know each other and that Rook takes her job seriously. Relations between Queen Olwyn’s country and neighboring countries are not the best and there is great risk of conflict. I can only guess that Isola #1 is the result of whatever conflict may have begun in the time between the Prologue and this first issue. Isola seems to refer to a mythical place or a type of heaven where departed souls go, so I am sure we will be finding out a lot more about our title marker as we get further into the series. Hallum are talked about as something that has been endangering the area and in this issue there is a chance that we got to see one, even if it is just a large corpse that only provides a glimpse of the maybe bird-like creature. It will be interesting to see how, or if, more of the fantasy elements and exotic creatures of this world are shown throughout the journey.
Overall, this is a good start to the series and it does a lot to get progress going. There is plenty of clear conflict for both main characters, there is a lot of wonderful artwork to enjoy, and the story seems to be heading in an enjoyable direction so far. As we get more issues it will be interesting to see if any of the gaps get bridged so we have a more clear-cut idea of what happened, who caused it, and where do the characters go now. This is a solid first issue that provides a lot of intrigue and excitement to see what happens next. The next issues in the story will tell if this will be one to continue on with until the story reaches its close or if it will fail to live up to the promise of this initial issue.