Rose #1

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. Written by MEREDITH FINCH (Wonder Woman, Little Mermaid), and drawn by fan-favorite artist IG GUARA (Batman: Arkham Knight, Blue Beetle, The Ravagers).

So let’s get this out of the way: Rose apparently has nothing to do with Jeff Smith’s Bone. This was my first assumption, seeing as the names “Rose” and “Thorn” are pretty unequivocally linked to Mr. Smith’s series. There is a Bone prequel called Rose, which details the adventures of the character Queen Rose Harvestar, eventually known as Grandma Ben. To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, this Rose is not that Rose.

If all this seems confusing, I’m on your side. I’m not sure what this new Rose series is up to – whether the name similarities are a naïve coincidence (which is odd, considering how famous Bone is), or if it’s a misguided homage, or if it’s a sneaky attempt to get sales through association. Whatever the case, Jeff Smith needn’t worry: this comic is no match for his opus.

Let’s start with the art. I like Ig Guara’s linework, and the colors are quite good. Unfortunately his character models bear the worst aspects of Mainstream comics: exaggerated poses and costumes trying to cover up their basic lifelessness. While the images are extremely well-crafted, nothing pulls the reader in – the characters are just collections of lines.

But at least the artist has experience and technical prowess. Meredith Finch’s writing is a checklist of literary no-nos: There’s a long opening monologue; the protagonist has a “NOOO!” scene when her mother dies in her arms; the villainess spouts evil inanities; her general is nothing but a growl in a suit of armor. It’s not even camp – just flat and boring. The good guys are good, the bad guys are bad, there are magical cats – excuse me, “Khats” – involved, and it all adds up to a whole lot of nothing.

This comic is one of those weird specimens where the final product is nowhere near as interesting as the story of how it came to be published in the first place. What’s with the Bone name-associations? Or the awkward thank-you note at the beginning of the comic? How did an A-list artist get paired with a bush-league writer? Unfortunately the backstory isn’t my purview; I’m left with the rather dull finished product.

Final Verdict: 2 out of 5.

Rose #1 can be found at Image Comics

Geek-o-Rama received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments and opinions are those of the individual reviewer.

2 comments to Rose #1

  • Comic Reader  says:

    Thank you for the honest review of “Rose”. I stumbled across issue #2 and was thoroughly confused; I thought Finch and Guara’s “Rose” was a part of the Jeff Smith “Bone” franchise. I googled keywords “rose thorne meredith finch jeff smith bone” and stumbled upon this geekorama review (so glad I did). I agree with you, it is hard to believe that another author would move forward with characters and nomenclatures that are clear reflections of Bone’s Harvester family. I went back and read issue #1 and my initial thought when reading the very first panel was “Oh look, it’s Lucius Down.”

    I’m not trying to be a review fanboy, but continuing with your assessment of Ig Guara’s art, I also agree. I’ve loved Ig since his run on DC’s Blue Beetle. His talent cannot be understated. He is amazing. His landscapes in “Rose” are beautiful. Unfortunately, going through the issue multiple times, I kind of found the storytelling a bit inconsistent and muddled. I agree, the “NOOOO!” scene was trite, but to that I must add this: It all happened in a burning house! Uh, safety first people. Let’s all leave the smoke and ashes and finish this little convo outside. And, I don’t know, a few pages before–and I hate myself for honing in on this, but is that a standard horizontal metal door handle? Does this story take place thousands of years before or after Home Depot?

    Now, Ig is amazing, I know I said that before, but as I go on to issue #3, I feel like his style drifts throughout the first three issues from his own, to Disney-ish, to old school Todd McFarlane and Whilce Portacio, circling back towards Jerome Opena, and then finally back to Ig. No, I’m not OCD, it’s just what I see.

    I wouldn’t necessarily refer to Meredith Finch as “bush league”, but I would agree with the awkward Old Script, way-too-small-fonted “thank you” piece to open up the comic. It does set the “crowd-funded” tone for the book (I don’t know if this was a Kickstarter project, but like I said, it just has that initial feel). I haven’t read her work on Wonder Woman so I don’t know much about her other than Rose. I do know that the dialogue seems canned and dull–all quite unoriginal. I’m thinking that the book could be published with empty speech balloons and most seasoned comic fans could produce similar discourses if given the opportunity.

    Moving on with my I’ll-hate-myself-in-the-morning-for-being-so-negative-but-I-just-gotta-get-this-off-my-chest review, the characters are solidly stereotyped. Rose, Will, Ila, the queen, etc. all have that, yeah, “been there done” that feel to them. Then there’s the whole repackaging of familiar characters like Bjarke, the asian version of Little John of Sherwood Forest or the queen’s wraiths (end of issue #1)–Nazgul anyone?

    In conclusion, (yeah, I just said that), the story seems like it could have spent a few more months in development with a lot more direction and editorial guidance. I love, love, love, creator owned intellectual property and will always salute indies making indie comics, but with that comes the responsibility of coming up with something that isn’t corporately guided and shackled to a franchise. Indie artists and writers need to push the edges of story lines and characters, not stay safely inside them.

    Unfortunately, “Rose” is a glass showcase that patently displays the creators’ influences while leaving seasoned readers with nothing else to do but draw comparisons to seminal works.

  • Comic Reader  says:

    And feel free to grammar nazi my previous review, I didn’t run it through MS Word first. Cheers.

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