This week sees the return of Brenden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl and Msassyk’s Isola. Isola is the story of a knight willing to do anything for her queen. At its heart, this is the story of two women trying to overcome hardships while being unable to really communicate what they want. While Queen Olwyn may be trapped in the form of a tiger, her knight Rook is trapped by loyalty, her past and her emotions.
In terms of a single issue, Isola #6 doesn’t move the plot forward a lot. It does add some background information and a feeling of how nervous Rook is, while also possibly setting up future events. The storytelling is decompressed here, to the extent where its true value will probably only be seen when the trade is released. You could have told the story in fewer panels, but admittedly you would have lost a lot of how this issue feels. Still, this is something that happens to most long form comics so it’s harsh to make a fuss about it.
The story this issue does tell is full of tension and emotional depth. The choice not to use an inner monologue perfectly suits Isola. The art does a great job of telling the story through body language in what is often a series of one-sided conversations. The addition of a new character towards the end is a nice way to see Rook interact with humanity once again and I’m intrigued to see the consequences.
Kerschl has always had the knack of being able to let his art do the talking when it needs to, as evidenced by his web-comic, The Abominable Charles Christopher. It’s no different here, as he captures so many emotions — a great achievement when one of his main characters is a tiger. In addition to that we get some great touches, from some well used insets to a great use of the point of focus to sell danger and shock.
Isola has always been a very pretty book and Msassyk is a big part of that. Her use of color and style really makes Isola feel mystical, with senses of mellow calm or tension both feeling equally likely.
Isola #6 is a very pretty book with a writing team who knows when to let the art do the talking. This is a charming fantasy story told with great visual flair whose only weakness may be the lack of story progression and a slightly sedate pace.