Emily Horn, Zac Thompson, Alberto Jimenez-Alburquerque, Raul Angulo, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
It isn’t too often that something in the comic book world presents you with a place or situation that you’ve never seen or experienced before. Finding a truly unique place or take either resides within a niche that only a few will explore or is so far out there it’s just “comic booky.” To have a book that doesn’t just rewrite the rules or simply have a neat twist to the well known, but instead defies conventions and creates a completely new way of thinking about current societal and global issues would be an absolute gem. Welcome to No One’s Rose. The description (from Zac Thompson) immediately sets the tone for this book (and even then you’re still not quite ready for the world that you’re immersed in upon reading). “Solar Punk” is the given name to the approach taken by No One’s Rose. The simple pitch is “V for Vendetta meets Avatar.” That’s actually an excellent quick descriptor that helps welcome you to the world created and outlook explored throughout the pages. The overt themes of those two works (such as fighting oppression, ignorance of group-think, and harm of ignoring nature) are a great jumping off point in regards to No One’s Rose.
The lens of optimism might be as perfect of a double edge sword as can exist. The hope, potential, and inspiration that can be found through it are capable of providing an inner power beyond what one could imagine. The blindness, irrational belief, and clouded judgement that can be found through it are capable of providing a danger beyond what one could ever see. Part of the mastery in No One’s Rose is that the book sees very clearly through this lens. The entire approach involves acknowledging, accounting for, and taking stock of the present day environmental concerns and still looking forward with hope. It isn’t blind or dismissive. Rather it uses all of the possibly cataclysmic dangers of today and uses them to polish that optimistic lens. The proof in the pudding here is the visual execution of the book. They stylistic choices, color pops, design, and equal detail given to everything from background landscaping to the domes green zone that encapsulates the lives of the characters. As with the message of the book the art delivers with purpose. Just as multiple elements have brought about the problems we face the artwork within these pages executes multiple approaches to deliver the message being transmitted. That message though, may not be exactly what people are thinking when they read the solicit or tag lines for this book. I mean, it is about that, but what that entails is likely going to catch people napping. Vault is very good at seeking out stories that do this and the creative team behind this book ramps this up to eleven. From the opening:
In the past, our relationship with nature was rooted in a lie. We said caring for the environment was an act of altruism. But having empathy for the planet was about all of us.
Yes it’s about all of us. It always has been, is now, and will forever be. One of the greatest plagues that humans suffer is that of projection. All that is broken, sour, deluded, and wrong about what sits in us is thrown up all over everyone and everything else. Whether it be on a personal level, group think, or as species we cannot help ourselves. The finger is pointed outward. Our pursuits of better either create an equal worse or are somehow tied to an equally negative outcome. No One’s Rose doesn’t only take all of this into account but uses it as fuel for the cautious optimism with which it handles a brave new outlook on how we can be what our best intentions strive to be. An entire reconstruction of a familiar, and oft distorted, concept is on display. Due to this issue one of No One’s Rose does an insane amount of heavy lifting and it does so in impressive fashion. Take out the new Solar Punk concept and you have an amazing first edition of a grand scheme science fiction saga. Remove yourself from the message being conveyed and you’ve got beautifully crafted panels that urge you to turn page after page. Don’t however, do either of those things. Don’t rob yourself of the mastery of this book.
Following in the new set tradition of Vault titles, No One’s Rose is so much more than the paper or digital pages that compose its make up. Kind of ironically the two ways to consume the book (old fashioned print and digital medium) are representative of the merging of present day and our future. The symmetry in that is just one more way that the intelligence poured into creating the message and world of No One’s Rose. The science involved in the story is based in the actual science of ecology. The narrative is expertly crafted in both the comic and real to life aspects it resides in. The visual journey strengthens the dialogue and amplifies the concepts it represents ten fold.
With the current state of our global society No One’s Rose shines a real time light on the plagues we suffer, the way forward, and the method by which we get there. Solidarity. This book doesn’t just rewrite the rules or simply have a neat twist to the well known, but instead defies conventions and creates a completely new way of thinking about current societal and global issues.