Writer: Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl
Artist: Karl Kerschl and MSassyK
Isola returns for its #9 this month, but fans can’t help but feel a wee-bit detached from a comic with such a staggered release. While I usually wouldn’t comment on the release schedule of a comic, I do here, because this release schedule is certainly part of the experience. It changes the way I read this comic. Every two months I have to remind myself–oh, yeah, Isola comes out soon. Then I go through the previous issue to refresh my memory. The drawback is that my excitement and investment in the story has to be put on hold for two months after every issue. That’s sadly just part of the experience of this comic.
But the story keeps readers coming back! That’s the good part. At first, it seems Rook and Olwyn might have found reprieve in the dark and whimsical world they travel through. However, when Rook tries some of the food grown at the witch’s house at which they stay, Rook is temporarily shaken from her enchantment. Harkening back to #8, there’s a special food the witch was very careful not to let Queen Olwyn eat, or even get near. It makes Olwyn’s tiger eyes glow a rich pink. Inadvertently, it enables Olwyn to free Rook and address plot elements from some issues ago.
I know Rook is under some type of enchantment, but an important question still stands even after issue 9. What do these characters want? Presumably, Olwyn doesn’t want to be a tiger anymore and Rook wants the same thing. This shared desire drives the urgency of this comic. Yet, in the last three issues, this desire seems to have taken a back seat. The result is some characters that feel a little aimless in their actions. Both Rook and Olwyn are more reactionary. Things happen to them, they react. Neither feels like a mover of events, and I think this weighs the series down at the moment. When this story began Olwyn didn’t seem at all pleased to be a tiger, now she seems resigned. I want that urgency back in this piece.
As has so commonly been the case with Kerschl and Msassyk, Isola #9 is brilliantly illustrated and colored. Aditya Bidikar uses symbols and marks to illustrate sounds both of animals and of events, better than anyone, and so artistically this issue is perfectly on par with the rest of the series. The color tones dictate the mood superbly, from rich golden hues to dark blue nights of terror. The paneling is also varied enough without becoming a distraction from the plotline. Since Olwyn can’t speak, a ton of the story’s heavy lifting is put on the sequence of events within panels. The way panels flit from one scene to another, giving context and juxtaposing with each other is admirable, and gives a sense of connection between events that would otherwise seem unrelated. The art caries this issue more than any other thus far.
An interesting installment, but one that this reader hopes lead to more urgency and agency for the main characters.