Published on September 5th, 2018 | by Dana Folkard
BLACKBIRD #1 ADVANCED REVIEW
Summary: Part magical mystery, part supernatural adventure.
Writer Sam Humphries and artist Jen Bartel join forces to weave an new ongoing series called Blackbird from Image Comics. Part magical mystery, part supernatural adventure, Blackbird explores hidden worlds, otherworldly beasts and supernatural powers, all with an unstable, pill-popping protagonist leading the way.
The story follows Nina Rodriguez, a young girl of ten who begins by telling the story of her first “vision” where she predicted a catastrophic earthquake. Distressed and filled with fear, she runs out of the house during the earthquake along with her sister, straight into another disaster. However, moments before a car falls from a collapsed bridge towards the two frightened girls, a ethereal magical monster suddenly appears and saves them from the plummeting vehicle. After saving the girls, the beast erases the memory of all of the witnesses, effectively deleting this encounter from their minds, all except Nina, who remembers everything.
Fast-forward to ten-years, and we see Nina depressed and addicted to pills as she struggles with life and her obsession of finding these magical “paragons”. In her mind, the best way to deal with things is to self-medicate and get high, so as to avoid the disappointment of never finding this magical world. Alone and helpless, she has a chance encounter that reinforces her suspicions and opens up a whole new door of possibilities and also problems.
Being a huge fan of modern fantasy, I had a sneaky suspicion that I was going to like this series before I had even opened the first page. Of course I loved it, even if I did find a few things to be a wee bit predictable. This hidden world of magic is the driving force behind the narrative, it was actually the character, Nina, that I found to be the most interesting aspect of this story. I always enjoy the complexities that a damaged and unhinged character brings to a story, as they offer an interesting dynamic and altogether, curious layer to the unfolding narrative. Clearly troubled by past traumas, and afflicted with an obsession to find this magic world, Nina is dealing with the repercussions of remembering her encounter with the otherworldly magical beast. She is plagued with unsettling visions that hint of a strange supernatural world hidden behind a thin veil that is just out of reach. I’m looking forward to seeing Nina develop and grow throughout the story and seeing how she is going to deal with the future challenges that no doubt await her.
As we all know, Jen Bartel’s art is gorgeous has a very distinct and eye-catching quality to it. I love how her art perfectly fits this magical setting, easily transporting me into this otherworldly realm. I especially love the gorgeous hybrid monster that she draws, and seeing its awesome reveal as it hulks over the frightened girls was an excellent moment. Bartel’s girls are always beautiful and flawless, possessing perfect hair and gorgeous good looks. Nina stands out from the rest, appearing to be a strong and resolute young woman, which you can tell from the way she holds herself and the determined expression she often has on her face. I also like the variety of facial nuances that we get to see with all of the people, helping to convey their emotions in a believable way. The colouring is eye-catching with everything awash in a vivid array of colours. This world is neon-saturated and glows in a warm and inviting way. It’s really quite pretty and perfectly captures the magical aura of this story.
Overall, I thought that this was a solid introduction to Blackbird. I like this take on a modern fantasy and believe that the leading character is a complex and interesting one. The art is stunning and absolutely magical and yep, I’m on board and keen to see where this tale is headed.
I’m giving this issue 4 out of 5 stars!
CREATIVE TEAM: Sam Humphries, Jen Bartel, Paul Reinwand, Nayoung Wilson, Jodi Wynne, Dylan Todd and Jim Gibbons.
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
GENRE: Modern Fantasy
PUBLICATION DATE: October 03, 2018
REVIEWER: Dana Folkard