Echos of Grief Reverberate in Isola 3

By Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

We don’t know exactly what transpired between Rook and Queen Olwyn that led them to their current paths, but Isola 3 continues to deepen their connection even as the two are further separated by physical distance.

The issue opens with a dream sequence; Olwyn — back in human form — wakes up in a mostly dry riverbed. On a rock in the distance lies Rook’s dead body, riddled with arrows, a tell-tale fox keeping her corpse company.

Isola 3

Isola 1

This vision not only mirrors the opening pages of Isola 1 (where Rook experiences a similar vision with the roles reversed), but also creates symmetry within the issue itself. In the final pages of Isola 3, Rook experiences another vision, one that articulates the pain and guilt she feels without offering any details as to why: Olwyn emerges from a rocky pool, transformed back into a human save for her tiger head. As Rook tries to comfort her a single word escapes her mouth in a hiss, “Murderer.”

Guilt over something clearly bonds the two women, but Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl are in no hurry to explain the circumstances of their characters. It’s a testament to the beauty of Kerschl’s art (and Msassyk’s colors) that the issue can get by on mystery and visual lyricism alone, without having to provide clear motivation for even a single character.

The promotional blurbs for Isola compare the book to Studio Ghibli’s work, but Kerschl’s art is more in the Disney house style of the 90’s than it is Ghibli’s painterly chibi aesthetic. What Isola does capture is the sometimes dark heart of adventure that gives blood to Hayao Miyazaki‘s best work. Perhaps most accurately, Isola is a continuously beautiful love letter to both studios’ strongest work.

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?

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