A World Of Fables, Fantasy And Fear In ISOLA #2 From Fletcher, Kerschl & Msassyk

by Oliver MacNamee

Issue 2 of the fantastic fantasy epic, ISOLA (out this week), sees travelling companions, Captain Rook and the transformed Queen Olwyn, continue in their quest to see out the fabled Isola and meeting with some old colleagues along the way as they travel through an ever desolate landscape. Albeit a landscape still stunningly executed by the combined might of Karl Kerschl on art and Msassyk on colour. But then, this is something both myself and fellow stablemate, Richard Bruton totally agree upon. I doubt we’re the only ones. There’s a reason this beautiful book sold out.

The career-defining illustrative pages of this series are a joy to behold, but it always helps when the story also matches the art. And, it does. Brenden Fletcher infuses the script with moments of drama, doom and daring, too. While Rook is surveying the ruins of the kingdom of Kasing and meeting up with old and new acquaintances, Olwyn is greeted by a mysterious Yoda-esque character who could easily be at home in a Studio Ghibli movie.

There’s certainly more than a touch of the Orient in the design, fused with more traditional fantasy elements to create a familiar yet original world of fables, fantasy and fear. Hey, you’ve gotta have conflict, right? Comics are based on such fare and this is no exception, ramping up the perilous standings of both Olwyn and Rook in equal measure. Seems you really have to have eyes in the back of your head to survive this place.

When even a ruined city looks beautiful, you know you’ve picked up not just a comic, but a potential classic of the fantasy genre, too. And, once again, portentous dreams occur – this time to the tigress, Queen Olwyn – as Rook and Olwyn seek to resupply and Rook leaves Olwyn seemingly safe on the outskirts of the ruined kingdom. And, as this sophomore issue progresses we find that not all is as it seems. Friends and colleagues show their true side and we learn that, while Olwyn is transformed, she is reputed as missing. But then, we still are none the wiser as to how, why, or two transformed her.

By the end of this issue we may not be much the wiser, but the encroaching sense of defeat and despair become more apparent. Olwyn’s kingdom is bruised and battered and this could well be enough of a reason for her to go into hiding, if that is the case, as an animal no-one would think is so regal.

It’s another magnificent issue that suggests there’s still a long and winding road ahead of them. A road filled with appropriate test, allies and enemies. One I’m happy to journey alongside as a reader.

ISOLA #2 from Brenden Fletcher, Karl KerschlMsassyk and Image Comics is out this Wednesday, the 9th of May. You’ve been warned! But, if you snooze, you’ll loose.

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