Monday, March 27, 2017

Review - Beautiful Canvas #1 (@blackmaskstudio)


"...go kill someone and I'll give you lots of money."

The life of an assassin can be a glamorous one at times. Other times though, the weight of the assassination can weigh pretty heavy on the assassin. Further complicating that weight is if the assassin has a life outside of assassinations like Lon Eisley in Beautiful Canvas #1 from Black Mask Studios. The issue is written by Ryan K. Lindsay, illustrated by Sami Kivela, colored by Triona Farrell and lettered by Ryan Ferrier.

Lon Eisley is a hitwoman hired to kill a small child a few days after discovering her girlfriend pregnant. In a bold declaration of uncertainty, she saves the boy and hits the road, despite the fact her boss clearly wanted him dead for a reason. This warped crime dystopia delves into the emotional dichotomy of creator/destroyer as Lon tries to connect the two very different worlds she now inhabits.

There's a lot to unpack in Beautiful Canvas #1, but fortunately for readers Lindsay has a very good handle on things. The issue starts off as a pretty simple hit job that quickly devolves into a broader message about reconciling being a parent with being a person. Lindsay emphasizes that split with rapid-fire dialogue throughout the issue that doesn't really give the reader a second to catch up. What makes Beautiful Canvas #1 even more intriguing is a pretty big swerve about three-quarters of the way through that Lindsay handles flawlessly. Lindsay's direction is very bold, but he's garnered enough trust in readers to plan on him seeing things through in a way that will ultimately make sense.

There's really no other way to say it: Kivela's artwork is brilliant. Kivela presents linework that is very intricate and concise, showcasing a wide variety of characters and locales with relative ease. There's a subtle simplicity throughout the book that Kivela uses to great effect; the most notable of which is the innocence with which the small child is illustrated. Panels are staggered and stacked in a way that lends to the frenetic life Lon leads as a hitwoman, giving Kivela a chance to offer a dizzying array of perspectives. Farrell's colors are bold in a way that they don't jump out at the reader.

Beautiful Canvas #1 is a solid first issue that sets up a lot for the miniseries. Lon is a very capable and skilled assassin who's a little out of her element in much the same way that Léon was out of his element in The Professional. Lindsay's script is very well-thought out and demonstrates an attention to the end-game. Kivela's illustrations are gorgeous and effectively carry the visual weight of the dialogue. Beautiful Canvas #1 is an emotion-filled first issue that toys with quite a few societal expectations of women, children and men.

Beautiful Canvas #1 is available June 28.

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