by Marian Churchland, Brandon Graham, Emma Rios, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Ludroe
The Island is a new publication through Image Comics and Brandon Graham that looks to be an anthology featuring a range of creators and styles under the same roof. In the first issue, readers are privy to preexisting stories, new ongoing chapters among others. The price tag is certainly steep, but the creative talent involved in the publication should offer a degree of assurance. Anthology formats can be an adjustment for those not accustomed to the format, but The Island #1 is likely to have something in it for most readers.
Inside the cover, readers are treated to absolutely beautiful painted pages that make up the title page for the publication. The gorgeous art comes from Marian Churchland. Graham’s intriguing art style takes hold of the credits page and it certainly makes for one of the more unique formats for a credits page. A large part of a readers potential enjoyment of the book hinges on their comfort with anthologies or familiarity with the creators on the title. Emma Rios takes the lead, presenting readers with a monochromatic tale of three individuals in some future society. There is a dystopian presentation to the world, and there is a lot left off the panel. The script continues to suggest different concepts and underlying elements that are never quite addressed head on. This, mixed with some opacity surrounding just who the main characters are or what has brought them together does strain a bit as the readers are offered very little information. Rios’s chapter looks to continue throughout the life of this publication and there is certainly enough intrigue and excitement to look forward to the next issue, even if this one has some problems.
The second portion of this story is courtesy of Kelly Sue DeConnick and is the most affecting piece if the publication. DeConnick’s story is rather short, and yet she uses the space in The Island #1 to tell a personal story. The format is not in comic form, though the accompanying images from Emma Rios are effective and truly wonderful. DeConnick’s piece is brutally honest and its impact is a lasting one. The writer shows her understanding of craft, present her friendship woven through her, stopping in on big moments as well as the smaller ones. The caliber of the story offers a perspective that is not false, or in anyway suggestive. DeConnick simply puts herself onto the page, offering something to the reader that is impressively vulnerable. “Railbirds” is, on its own, worth the effort to seek out this publication, and DeConnick’s touching tribute to a friend, mixed with her outlook on the fragility of the human experience are appreciated.
The latter half of The Island feature two stories. The first being a continuation of the tale of Multiple Warheads, a title from Brandon Graham. Graham’s narrative tactics are unconventional, but fans of his writing will be excited to see more from the creator. The chapter presented in The Island is quite enjoyable, with a dense and unconventional trajectory. Graham’s artwork is engrossing, elaborate, and wonderful to get lost in. Rounding out the issue, Ludroe presents a story about a skater named Reno hoping to find a skater she once knew. The book, like Rios’s opening chapter, is merely an introduction to a new story and Ludroe’s artwork conveys a significant level of energy to make this short chapter compelling.
Overall, The Island, like many anthologies, is likely to offer something to most readers. Using the creators involved as a guide, this publication is unlikely to disappoint. Graham’s idea for this type of book, the talent he has employed for it, and the structure offer some promise for exciting and intriguing ideas on a monthly basis. The fragmented narrative that can be problematic for some readers when trying to follow ongoing tales in such a publication may take some adjusting. Still, The Island is likely to offer some great bits of uninhibited creativity on a monthly basis.