Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Meredith Finch
Artist: Ig Guara
Colors: Triona Farrell
Letters: Cardinal Rae
Review by PeteR
The Khatz were the mystical animals who, along with the human Guardian they were linked to, protected the kingdom of Ttereve and the population that resided within. The number of Khatz began to thin out and eventually the land was conquered by evil Queen Drucilla. Her first order of business was to kill anyone, particularly children who might manifest the powers of the Guardians. Possessing magical abilities translated to having a death sentence.
Ten years later, Rose who has the potential for magic, finds her village burned and all the inhabitants slain by the Queen’s men, including Rose’s mother. The leader of the Queen’s soldiers is Sir Dante’ who’s philosophy is; “Suffering. Suffering builds Character. Strength? Let the weak perish. The strong will survive. They always do.”
Queen Drucilla keeps the skeleton of her father in chains in a room near her throne so she is able to regularly remind it that although he thought her to be weak, it was Drucilla who rose to power, defeating both her father and her brothers. The queen’s goal is to eradicate all magic that she alone can’t possess. She is clearly a nasty piece of business
Rose, runs into a small band of rebels in the woods, who are trying to survive the onslaught. The four wanderers decide it’s better to run and fight another day, rather than be completely outnumbered, fighting Queen Drucilla’s thugs. Rose, grabs a sword and goes charging back into the fray. Will, the ersatz lead warrior of the band of rebels confronts Rose before she can get herself killed. While he is doling out a harsh lesson on reality to her, Rose hears a doe trapped in the brambles of a poisonous thorn bush. Rose dislodges the animal only to discover it died from the poison. Somehow, Rose’s tears bring the young creature back to life.
Will and Rose are confronted by a warrior zombie-like creature. Rose tries to fight it when flames unexpectedly shoot out her hands. The warrior monster is not phased but suddenly smells something, mutters the name Thorne, and high tails it into the woods. Rose later learns that the Guardians of old had been corrupted/possessed and now mindlessly serve Queen Drucilla. Meanwhile, in a stark, frozen mountain cave, a giant statue of a panther comes to life. It declares; “I am done waiting. I am Thorne, the last of the great Khatz. It is time I found my Guardian.”
Rose #3 starts with a brief backstory of how Thorne came to be a statue. We also find out the one of Drucilla’s brother, Felix was in league with the Khatz. As Thorne is then confronted by a vicious turned-guardian named Avani, Rose’s powers completely manifest and her hair turns white. Ila, who turns out to be much more than just some old woman on the run, continues to tutor Rose on the history of the kingdom and her potential.
Rose #3 was created and written by Meredith Finch. Finch previously was the writer for the second half of D.C. Comics, New 52’s Wonder Woman series. Clearly Meredith Finch is proficient at writing stories focusing on strong women. There is a great deal of background story in Rose. Rather than trying to shove it all down our throats, Finch is doing a great job weaving a historical mosaic. There are enough moving pieces to keep the reader interested without needing to keep a flow chart of characters and time periods.
I grew up on Rudyard Kipling’s and Disney’s The Jungle Books. when done well, giant, talking black panthers always provide me with a nostalgic pleasure. On page 6 of Rose #3, Thorne emerges from his cave. This is a magnificent moment, highlighting the talents of both Brazilian artist, Ig Guara and colorist Triona Farrell. Guara previously has illustrated Blue Beetle and Batman: Arkham Knight. Farrell has colored such titles as Big Trouble in Little China/Escape From New York and Might Morphin Power Rangers. Thorne’s nobility flows from every panel. Page 23 is another terrific piece of art. If Marvel ever wanted to resurrect a Silver Sable series, they would be fools not to offer the art chores to Ig Guara and Triona Farrell.
Cardinal Rae is the letterer for Rose. I always enjoy is when different sets of characters have different calligraphy fonts used for their words. In this case, people have a more generic style while the zombiefied Guardians have a more corrupted font. Thorne’s thoughts are portrayed using a regal looking lettering style, aptly framing the panther.
Why you should buy this book? I won’t lie, there are some parts the series Rose that feel very familiar. There is a definite Jedi meets Tolkien vibe to it but, there is enough of a twist of those themes to make the material feel fresh. While discussing writing recently, a fellow columnist said that all stories are about the characters finding themselves. At the time I thought that might be a bit of an over-generalization. On giving it further thought, I saw the validity of his point. Rose #3 continues the progression of Rose finding out who she really is. I am looking forward to experiencing that journey with her and how she will shape her world.
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