REVIEW: Isola #6 is the return of a great series

Isola #6  is out 1/16/2019.

Isola #6 is out 1/16/2019.

By Zack Quaintance —  Isola is one of Image’s most interesting comics, in that it stands out for being both utterly beautiful and massively decompressed (see The Warning). The thing I find most intriguing about Isola, however, is that as the book gorgeously reveals more of what’s happening, why things are happening, who are these characters, and the histories they share with one another, it doesn’t lose much (if any) of its tension.

There’s a concept in fiction I think about often called the rate of revelation, which says that one way to create suspense in a story is to carefully dole out vital information at a certain pace as the plot goes on. This, I believe, is the main strength of Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl’s writing in Isola. They also do a great job of giving the audience what they need to make key orienting assumptions before truths become clear. One early instance of this is how in the first issue the tiger is treated with reverence and called Your majesty. My immediate guess was that a monarch had been converted into a tiger...and I was hell bent on continuing to read until I found out whether I was right.

The other (and more evident/impressive) strength of this comic is what is arguably industry-best semi-regular art. I mean, just look at this screen grab from Isola #5.

The artwork (by Karl Karl Kerschl and Msassyk) in Isola is among the best being done in comics today. Above panel is from Isola #5.

But, friends, we are not here to talk Isola #5! Nor are we here to continue to discussing this comic in a super broad sense. We are, in fact here, to talk Isola #6, which marks a return after a hiatus and the start of the book’s second proper story arc (the Isola Vol. 1 trade is out now, btw, and as I wrote in our Top Comics to Buy for January 16, it’s one of those reasonably priced introductory Image ones, which means with $10 and a little more than an hour you can get all caught up on this fantastic comic…). And it’s quite a solid return, to be sure.

When we last left our two main protagonists—Olwyn, the tiger who wouldbe/is queen; and Captain Rook, charged with escorting her to a possibly magical place called Isola that also might be bad and could maybe not exist—they were encamped under a tarp in the rain after an ordeal that almost claimed the life of the queen. This issue is characteristically decompressed, dedicating its first seven pages (nearly ⅓ of the total) to a slow vision in which Olwyn interacts with her mother. It’s gorgeous, cut with the dreamlike blue hues that marked the last issue’s desperate end, and it also does some work in the plot, leaving me (at least) with a couple of key questions.

The first is maybe more obvious: what role did Olwyn’s family—her parents and erratic brother—play in her current danger and plight, and secondly, what is happening with the animals in this story, are they all as the queen humans banished (or escaped) into other forms? It’s a great question to raise, one that really has me engrossed in what’s happening in these pages. The other significant developments here are that we see yet again that the queen’s forces pose a threat to her and are also erroneously marching toward war in her name, and, perhaps more importantly, a small friend of Rook’s learns what’s going on. The plot, however, is less important than pointing out that Isola maintains the beautiful aesthetic and patient storytelling with ample revelats that have made its first volume such a joy. I’m pretty glad this comic is back.

Overall: Isola #6 is yet another gorgeous burst of sequential art from this creative team, more of the developing fantasy tale with its themes of loyalty, desperation, trust. This is the first issue back after hiatus, starting a new arc. I’m loving this title, and I encourage any with even mild interest to pick up this issue along with the $9.99 first volume Image trade. 8.5/10
Isola #6
Brenden Fletcher / Karl Kerschl
Artists: Karl Kerschl / Msassyk
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99

For more comic book reviews, check out our review archives.

Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.

Top Comics to Buy for January 16, 2019

By Zack Quaintance — This was an interesting week for comics, in that many of the best creator-owned books coming out were well into their runs or midway into their first arcs. There are, of course, some interesting new #1 titles (there always as are, as that’s where the money is at, and all), including Adventure Time: Simon and Marcy, Black Widow, and Invaders. There’s also Marvel Comics Presents #1, which is the one I’m personally most interested in.

Still, great creator-owned books like Black Badge, Gideon Falls, Lodger, and Wic + Div all seem to be caught mid-arc. So, we’ve done what any good comics recommender the issues and sorted them out and come up with some recommendations—even if there aren’t any good jumping on points to be had, except for Isola (more on that in a moment). We hope you’ll find it all helpful!

And now, onward to the comics!

Top Comics to Buy for January 16, 2019

Babyteeth #14
Donny Cates
Artist: Garry Brown
Colorist: Mark Englert
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Price: $3.99
So, hey, welcome back, folks. How about that issue 13, huh? I told you it was bananas. Anyway, look, I'd like to be able to tell you this one is easier or nicer somehow, but real-ly...have any issues of this book not been insane and weird? Would you even believe me If I said it was? No. You wouldn't. So, yeah, this issue is more of all that. Plus: BETRAYAL! (Dramatic music cue!)
Why It’s Cool: This issue really teases out writer Donny Cates’ abilities as a humor writer, which were last seen this directly during his first Marvel work on Doctor Strange and Thanos. Meanwhile, artist Garry Brown also gets some great chances to shine here in what is the first issue back after a bit of a break, using his design skills to also get in on the humor tip. It’s not all laughs though—this issue also raises some pretty stark questions about the devil and God, and, by extension, about our concepts of good and evil. Basically, this is the first issue in a while that really makes good on the immense promise Babyteeth had at launch way back when, so much so it makes me absolutely elated I stuck with this series.

Black Panther #8
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Artist: Kev Walker
Colorist: Stephane Paitreau
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99
"THE INTERGALACTIC EMPIRE OF WAKANDA: THE GATHERING OF MY NAME" Part 2 For years, the Maroons have lain dormant, planning the next stage of their rebellion. At last, it is time to strike - with a treasure hunt for unstable Vibranium! And with the Black Panther once again in their ranks, they're certain of victory. But what will victory cost? When the chips are down, will the Maroons rise to heroism, or are they doomed by the trauma of their past?
Why It’s Cool: Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates just keeps getting better and better at the comics game, and while his best work may be taking place over in Captain America, his current bonkers intergalactic arc on Black Panther is really no slouch. It’s a bit hard to make out what exactly is going on here—my guess is something funny with a wormhole...thank you to the Shuri title for the tip—but the imagination involved with the story is absolutely off the charts. Kev Walker also returns for another issue, which I’m all about because I thought Black Panther #7 was stunning.  

Electric Warriors #3
Steve Orlando
Artist: Travel Foreman
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
The revolution starts now! Inceptor accidentally digs too far into the memories of the Electric Warrior from Gil'Dishpan and uncovers a conspiracy at the heart of the Covenant. The planet games are meant to bring profit and keep the various peoples across the galaxies in check, rather than encourage peace and cooperation. If Inceptor can convince the other Warriors of what he's learned, it might just spark the revolution that will free a galaxy.
Why It’s Cool: Simply put, Electric Warriors is the Big 2 comic right now that not enough people are talking about. It’s an impeccably-told future-set tale with a savage sci-fi concept. This issue pushes that concept a step further by—well, I won’t tip into spoiler territory but I will tell you that you should without question be reading this book. Especially if you fancy yourself any sort of DC Comics continuity buff, or even a hardcore DC fan.  

Isola #6
Brendan Fletcher / Karl Kerschl
Artists: Karl Kerschl / Msassyk
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
Olwyn has returned from the land of the dead, but did she return alone? The journey to Isola continues...NOW BI-MONTHLY!
Why It’s Cool: Isola is the best-looking comic coming out today (with apologies to The Dreaming), and this is the start of a new arc. The first trade is out there at the super reasonable $9.99 Image introductory price. It’s also a fairly decompressed comic, which means that with $10 and an afternoon, you can get caught up for this new jumping on point. And trust me when I tell you it’s very much worth. Not only is the art absolutely stunning, but the world is well-built and the characters compelling. The narrative is also paced with a rewarding rate of revelation, doling out enough to stay interesting without ever tipping into overly wordy dumping of exposition.

Superman #7
Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Ivan Reis, Brandon Peterson, and Jason Fabok
Inker: Oclair Albert
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
It's the moment you've been waiting for: the shocking return of the son of Superman! A year spent traveling the stars changed Jon Kent. Are parents Clark and Lois ready for the all-new, all-different Superboy? Secrets are revealed, a new look debuts and Superman's world is changed forever!
Why It’s Cool: There’s a reason that Brian Michael Bendis dueling runs on Action Comics and Superman made our Top 5 Comics of 2018: they’re both really really good. Action grabbed me right away, but I must admit it took just a tiny bit longer for Superman to really reel me in. Now that it has, however, I just can’t get enough of this book. Superman #7 is another fantastic installment with top-tier art and a plot that keeps the pages turning. It also has something that Bendis is proving himself impressively adept at: a new iconic moment largely shaped by logical ways in which the rest of the city, Earth, or galaxy would come to view someone as powerful and benevolent as our guy Clark Kent. These are exciting and special superhero comics, and I feel lucky to be reading them in real time as they come out.

Top New #1 Comics

  • Adventure Time: Simon and Marcy #1

  • Black Hammer Director’s Cut #1

  • Black Widow #1

  • Invaders #1

  • Marvel Comics Presents #1

Others Receiving Votes

  • A Walk Through Hell #7

  • Amazing Spider-Man #13

  • Black Badge #6

  • Catwoman #7

  • Conan the Barbarian #2

  • Detective Comics #996

  • Gideon Falls #10

  • Hawkman #8

  • Ironheart #2

  • Lodger #3

  • Middlewest #3

  • Supergirl #26

  • Venom #10

  • Warning #3

  • Wicked + Divine #41

See our past top comics to buy here, and check our our reviews archive here.

Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.