The day is finally here, you guys! Look, I was unabashedly stoked for Image Comics’ latest fantasy series, Rose. After our interview with author Meredith Finch, I was even more excited. I’m a sucker for a good ol’ fashioned fantasy tale, and it’s something I’ve been sorely missing ever since Gail Simone stepped away from Red Sonja. Well, get your swords and buckles, my pretties, because Rose #1 is finally (FINALLY!) out and hot damn am I pleased.
As I’ve lamented before, first issues are always difficult to review, because they are always scene setting more than anything. Rose‘s set up is deceptively simple: many years ago, there were a group of magic users called Guardians who were bonded with Khats. They were the keepers of peace and upholders of honor. As they declined for unknown reasons, an evil ruler stepped in and has since banished magic use from within the kingdom. And when I say “banished” I mean she’s burning villages and killing anyone who demonstrates magic use.
You can probably guess that our titular character, Rose, is such a magic user. After feeling the wrath of Queen Drucilla’s forces, Rose ends the issue on the start of her bold journey. We’re only briefly introduced to the characters, but it seems as though Drucilla and Rose will end up playing direct foils to one another. It’s not just that Rose will ultimately end up campaigning against Drucilla, but rather I have a sneaking suspicion we’re going to see direct parallels to one another; almost as though the characters are dark mirrors the other.
Ig Guara’s art is, naturally, excellent. The entire issue oozes classic high fantasy. From the details on clothing and weapons, to the character design, everything feels “right.” As a kid who grew up on Conan (The Destroyer FOR LIFE), and Red Sonja, it channels all of the elements and styles we expect, and yet it all feels fresh and new.
For a first issue, Rose #1 knocks it out of the park. I’m engaged and curious enough to stick around for more, and Meredith Finch has done a nice job of scene setting without revealing too much. I came for the giant khats (won’t lie, first issue needed more khats), but I’m staying for what is poised to be exactly what the genre needs right now.