Isola — Image Comics (2018)

It’s been a while since I fell head-over-heels for a comic. I was on board with Paper Girls (2015) from the start, and the first issue of Pearl (2018) was excellent, but the last time I was instantly wowed was probably when I picked up the first Saga trade paperback in 2012. That is until Saturday morning, when I read all five published issues of Brenden Fletcher & Karl Kerschl’s Isola (2018).

Tell me this isn’t just the most compelling opening:

One of the great pleasures of fantasy fiction, in any medium, is the opportunity to immerse oneself in new worlds. And the genre’s largest potential pitfall is that exposition of the world’s rules and realities requires subtlety and skill. Everything about this book is brilliantly handled. Fletcher & Kerschl’s script is perfectly judged, deftly providing the reader with what they need to know, whilst allowing room for plenty of mystery and wonder at the edges of the story.

Kerschl’s art is by turns evocative, precise, and dynamic; there doesn’t seem to be anything he can’t depict perfectly. Look, for example, at the motion in this page:

And he’s working alongside an absolutely peerless colourist in Michele “MSASSYK” Assarasakorn. I was consistently knocked out by her use of a broad but controlled palate, and the richness in each panel. Check out the lush greens on this page, on which she also comes the closest I have ever seen to capturing sunlight:

Even the lettering – the most frequently overlooked and under-appreciated discipline in comics – is remarkable. Without commanding undue attention on the page Aditya Bidikar does an excellent job of representing the varied languages of the world (including sub-vocal). And there are also some neat little moments like this, which I thought worked perfectly to capture two characters’ relationship and history:

All of this comes together to make an amazing book. I simply don’t see pages like this too often:

I cannot recommend Isola strongly enough. I was absolutely captivated throughout, and I’m already counting down to the January release of issue 6 — its world is one I’m eager to get back to.

Adam Wood @adam