In Isola #9 by Brenden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl, Msassyk, and Aditya Bidikar, we catch up with Captain Rook and her charge, Queen Olywn – still trapped in the body of a magnificently beautiful tiger – as the former tries to get some well earned rest, and maybe something else too, as we witnessed last issue. Rook has fallen into the arms of another, only to find, in this issue, that this other – Miluśe – has enchanted our hero, and she’s not the first.
Miluśe comes from a long tradition of witches-in-the-woods, that can be found in many folk tales all across the world. Whether it’s Baba Yaga from Russia, or the Germanic witch and her gingerbread house from Hansel and Gretel, ancient stories are full of such weird sisters. But, as ever, here these all-so-familiar archetypes are filtered through the lens of Studio Ghibli and transformed into something both familiar yet exotic. Although, I wouldn’t mess with her as she soon reveals her violent, merciless side. Rook may be fooled, but Olwyn isn’t and soon she goes investigating, only to unravel the true extent of Miluśe’s cruel nature. We get the sense she has been cast out of a clan (of witches? Was she even too evil for them?) and even when an olive branch is offered up, she turns it down in the most dreadful manner.
Its another short read, due to Kerschl and Msassyk doing a lot of the heavy lifting in the absence of dialogue, but it’s another where you get to revel in the artwork. The angular panels, zoom lines, and dynamic poses of the characters really gives this comic energy and pacing where needed, while still creating a beautiful fantasy world where magic still thrives and dangers lurk in ever tree, or under each rock.
The tantalising last page cliffhanger guarantees I’ll be coming back to find out what happens next on this particular hero’s quest. Its a comic that continues to dazzle me with its visuals while I’m still engaged by the unfolding story. The Hero’s Journey may well be one of the oldest narrative structures in existence, but there’s still new and fresh ways of breathing life into this tried and tested formula. It’s still one of the more animated comics on the shelves, and while publishing bi-monthly can often lead to a loss in momentum, its still a book I personally look forward to when it does come out every other month. Still as enchanting as ever, or is that just Miluśe weaving her spell on me too?
Isola #9 is out now from Image Comics.
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