Isola, which debuted earlier this month, is nearly more akin to a high-budget Disney animated feature than a comic.
Regardless of whether the first issue’s story was good (it was; I’ll get to it), I would’ve stuck around for the art. There’s a crispness and fluidity, both within the panels and in the transitions between them, that echoes the best that animation has to offer. Karl Kerschl’s lines and Msassyk’s colors blend together to create detailed foregrounds and beautiful backgrounds. And the characters moving within Isola‘s world, even the literal throwaway characters, are so interestingly designed that I can’t help but want to know more about where they’ve come from.
That said, there’s a lot to unpack within Isola 1, and the story doesn’t especially hold your hand. Some might consider this a drawback, but I’ve always been one for diving headfirst into a new world, like Isola‘s, and receiving information on what’s what and how things work naturally, as the story progresses. Bits of lore and backstory unfold on each page of Isola, but they’re just that: bits.
If you’re a person who prefers their fantasy to be more infodump-y, more focused on explaining the rules and wherefores of what’s going on than the tale that’s happening in front of you, Isola might not be for you. Or at least, this initial issue might not be. But if you’re willing to accept that you do not know some things, and that you might not know them for some time, Isola seems set to lay out a beautiful tale of an ousted ruler turned tiger and a loyal solider who will stop at nothing to see that ruler restored.
Besides the wonderful art and teases of the world’s larger lore, Isola 1’s main concern is establishing the relationship between Captain Rook and the transformed Queen Olwyn (neither of whose names we actually get until page 24; again, it seems information will come slowly). Rook defers to Olwyn as much as possible, allowing the Queen to take charge of most situations. But, there are times throughout the first issue where Rook takes the lead, and others where Rook attempts to but the Queen ignores her counsel. Their relationship is already contentious, with Rook trying to figure out where she stands and just how much authority she has in this situation. The pair’s inability to talk things over (as one of them is a tiger) seems set to escalate things at some point in the near future.
Overall, Isola was intriguing enough to come back to even without the next-level art, but being pretty sure does help. I’ll definitely be laying my $3.99 down for Isola 2 in a few weeks. If you read Isola ‘s debut issue (or the prologue I just found while writing this piece) and have thoughts on the story so far, sound off below!