COMIC REVIEW: Rose Volume One: The Last Light

Sometimes we all need a little magic in our lives and with the new collection Rose from Meredith Finch (Wonder Woman, Little Mermaid), and artist Ig Guara (Batman: Arkham Knight, Blue Beetle) there’s plenty of it about. Rose lives in a world that used to contain magical creatures known as Khatz, who were somehow linked to virtuous humans known as Guardians: temperance, justice and courage (a panther, a lion and a tiger). Tragedy, of course, besets our Rose, and so begins her journey of magical discovery.

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 sorcerous 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.

And so the Big Bad is Drucilla, who wants to prove a point, and in doing so, must be the nemesis of Rose. When we meet Rose, she is an innocent country girl. She just happens to live in a village that Drucilla believes is full of rebels, and therefore must be cleansed. If the village hadn’t been attacked, Rose would have continued her simple life in ignorance. It is only her pain that awakens her destiny and brings about trouble for the sorcerous.

So far, so formulaic. But Rose is kinda fun, despite its issues. The plot tends to go as you might expect. Rose meets various disenfranchised individuals on her journey of revenge. The old crone explains her place in the world, for example. The resurgence of good magic equals more bad magic too. Rose is eventually united with her Katz, and they communicate telepathically. Finch hits most of the notes you’d expect from a classic fantasy scenario, but while the journey is enjoyable, the characters aren’t terribly engaging or original.

Which can also be said about Guara’s art. All the panels and characters and scenes look great but they’re nothing we haven’t seen before. Colours, which are fine, are by Triona Farrell (Big Trouble in Little China, Doctor Who). One thing that did annoy me is the depiction of the female leads. Which is odd, as this is a very female perspective on the classic heroic fantasy. Rose begins the story dressed in a long country dress. During the first part of the comic she befalls accidents and events that continually tear at her dress until it is almost non-existent and definitely impractical; then she also changes hair colour from red to white. And talking of which, Drucilla wears next to nothing. Imagine a dodgy 1980s Mad Max rip-off crossed with something like Krull and you can picture the scene. Definitely unnecessary. Most of the panelling is fine from Guara but nothing jumps out or catches the eye as being more than just good.

I really wanted to like Rose. As a concept, it hits a lot of buttons – a female perspective on the classic fantasy trope of the chosen one who must find her destiny via tragedy. However, too many clichés and some poor characterisation from both Finch and Guara let this book from Image down. It does have the potential to grow into something better so might be worth keeping an eye on.

This edition collects the first 6 issues of the comic book, and features a cover gallery.

Title: Rose Volume One: The Last Light

Publisher: Image Comics

Rating: 2.5/5

Reviewer: Ian J Simpson

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