ISOLA #3 / Writers: Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl / Artists: Karl Kerschl and MSASSYK / Letterer: Aditya Bidikar / Publisher: Image Comics / Release Date: June 6th, 2018
Few comics look like Isola. Writer Brenden Fletcher, along with artists Karl Kerschl and MSASSYK, build a unique world that captures readers’ attention from the very first page. Isola #3 contains some of the series’ best art, while the plot develops in exciting directions. The first two issues were driven by the action of the main characters. While action continues to drive the story in Isola #3, we are also introduced to some beautiful aspects of this world that were only mentioned before. The final pages of this issue enchanted me, even if the ending is a little confusing. It blows the doors wide open on this mysterious world, while giving us more insight into our two main characters.
Isola follows the story of a solider named Rook, while she escorts an exotic blue tiger with light blue stripes through a as of yet unnamed fantasy land. We previously learned that the tiger is in fact Olwyn, the Queen of Maar and that Rook is a somewhat disgraced soldier. They are on a quest, although Isola keeps us mostly in the dark on the circumstances that spark their quest. We do learn a war is brewing between two kingdoms, and that Olwyn’s brother was a causality of this war.
At the beginning of the series, Rook mentioned their destination is called Isola, which is hinted at being related to the afterlife. That’s all we’ve known up until this point, and while Isola #3 did not give exact answers around the nature of their journey, we do get a hint at a possible romantic relationship between Rook and Olwyn.
At the end of Isola #2, Rook was captured by a group of hunters while Olwyn went off with a sage-like man, who goes by the name of Pring. In Isola #3, a comment is made both by Rook’s captors and Pring, who’s called a Moro, regarding the relationship between the two characters. It is only hinted at, but the way in which both react makes me think it may be true. Maybe they fell in love and attempted to run away? Maybe someone found out and turned Olwyn into a tiger? How are same sex relationships treated in this world? There is still so many answers to come, but I enjoy the little hints on the journey. We also learn that the hunter who captured Rook knows who she is, along with who killed Rook’s mother. Rook’s reaction to this is vivid and it’s possible she killed her mother. Rook is a likable protagonist, but it’s clear that her history is complicated.
Isola #3 shines in the back half. When Pring first showed up, he spoke in riddles about Olwyn realizing her true destiny. He came off as just another goofy character who knows a lot, but for plot reasons, can’t say what he knows. I still get that impression of him in Isola #3, but here he is developed beyond cryptic plot hints. He talks about the Moro, and what seems to be their philosophy on life. They are a mystical group of people, connected to some type of higher plane of existence, and they concerned about becoming ‘more than one’. While the ending only brings more questions, I think the Moro community is one of the most effective bits of world building by Fletcher. The Moro have been mentioned in past issues, in an almost fearful tone, but this issue shows me that this community is misunderstood. While perhaps they should be feared, they are yet another source of strange beauty in this world.
I could write for ten years about the art in Isola. It’s clean, dynamic, and puts me in a tranquil state every time I see it. Every scene in Isola #3 pops and that’s mainly because of the colors. The team of Kerschl and MSASSYK do a great job transitioning scenes and tones in Isola. When it’s daytime, the colors on the clothes of the characters pop and their expressions are seen clearly. And when it’s night, blue shading is cast over the characters and backgrounds, but done so in a way that makes the scene come alive in a different but equally vibrant way.
A good portion of Isola #3 takes place in the woods, where a mystical fog is added to create an eerie vibe that I really enjoy. There’s also a scene at the end of this issue with fluorescent butterflies, the illuminate the forest in pink. It is one of the most beautiful pages I have ever seen. A comic like Isola needs good art that can establish it as a very different world than our own. The cover of Isola #3 is Pring centered over a map of the unnamed world, and this is for good reason. The art in Isola #3 is magical and at times, it feels as if it was made by the Moro themselves.
There is nothing wrong with Isola #3. Over the span of an issue, it shows me unreal art, an interesting plot, and a captivating world that I want to enter. The art is both unnerving and calming. This issue advances the story only a few paces, but this still takes us further than any previous issue. It seems that Isola #4 is going to be the story of how Olwyn was transformed into a tiger, which may take the comic forward several paces by stepping backwards. Image is known for producing great comics, and letting artists express themselves so they can tell a compelling story. We’ve seen it with Saga, Monstress, East of West, and so much more. I would add Isola to your pull list if you want to dive into a new and wonderful world.
VERDICT: 5 Out Of 5
“His name is Toren Chenault but he goes by Raymond X. He’s currently a student attending Michigan State University from where he will graduate this spring. He loves all things nerd culture from television to comics and his favorite heroes are Daredevil, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Nighthawk, and Captain Atom. Toren is a writer as well, and his debut superhero novel, Mystic Man, will be released this year.