In a world of high fantasy, one woman strives to become the Guardian her world requires… Your Major Spoilers review of Rose #1 awaits!
Writer: Meredith Finch
Artist: Ig Guara
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Letterer: Cardinal Rae
Editor: Andy Schmidt
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Rose: “A classic fantasy tale about a girl trying to restore balance to a broken world. Rose must connect with her Khat—Thorne—to become the Guardian the world needs. But things aren’t easy for Rose and Thorne, the powerful sorceress Drucilla has many powerful and demonic allies—all of them focused on stopping one scared little girl who’s desperately trying to stay alive and do what’s right…”
ICONIC OR OVERLY FAMILIAR?
I have to say, I’m really enjoying the sheer number of comics that aren’t superhero-driven lately, and this book starts off with a lot of promise. The first three pages tell us the story of a world where magical protectors, each paired with a Khatz (Khat?) companion, protecting the land with their magic. The Guardians are targeted by evil forces, and begin to disappear, leading to an evil despot taking over the countryside. It’s a well-done example of a massive infodump, leading us to the titular Rose, a young girl who lives in a world where the magical Guardians are gone and any indications of magic are hidden, lest a child be murdered. She, however, has been secretly trained by her mother and almost doesn’t believe that “The Cleansings” are real, having not seen or heard of one in years…
You know where this is going, right? Rose returns from daily practice to find the village in flames and her injured mother entreating her to run away on a journey that will almost certainly take her on a metaphorical hero’s journey.
Ig Guara draws a beautiful comic book, ladles and jellyspoons, and this is no exception: Rose’s world is visually fascinating and distinct from other comics in the same genre (with the most obvious parallel being Bone, which also featured a character named Rose in similar circumstances.) There are a lot of familiar fantasy story tropes in play here, which makes for a read full of difficulty. On the one hand, there’s a lot in this story that is easy to approach, as the familiar story elements of such stories are in play: Evil ruler, young hero with potential and strange powers, a secret order seemingly forever lost… That familiarity is also the downside of the issue as well. I enjoy the fact that the Evil King is a Queen, one who is independently powerful (and who, even though she is nearly naked, doesn’t feel like mere eye-candy) and the idea of having a female Chosen One archetype has the potential to put a fresh enough face on the familiar story to make it all feel new again.
THE BOTTOM LINE: SOME FASCINATING BITS TO BE HAD
I picked this up entirely based on the strength of the cover image, but found myself enjoying it quite a bit, to the point where even The Khatz (who are all big cats) naming conventions didn’t throw me entirely out of the story. With so much on the ball, Rose #1 feels like it could be something big (or at least something good), and with Rose now in the company of an elder sorceress called Ila, we have some real Ben Kenobi action going on, leaving the issue with a better-than-average 4 out of 5 stars overall. If the creators can keep the fresh material and new takes on old tropes to balance out the “Another Fantasy Sorcery Story” problem, this book could easily be something big…