Beautiful Canvas #1 (Black Mask)

Rating: 5/5 – Hitwoman With a Crisis of Conscience Hits the Road.
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall.

** Spoiler-Free Advance Review **
If you like comics that make you think…and after you think you may still be scratching your head thinking “What did I just experience?” then you should give Beautiful Canvas a try, out from Black Mask in June.  It’s rare that I review something well in advance of it’s “on sale” date, but writer Ryan K. Lindsay sent me an advance review copy and I loved it.  This made me want to give people an opportunity to not miss out on this gem.  Black Mask has been putting out some great comics, but they are not stocked in-depth at very many comic shops.  Beautiful Canvas is in the April Previews on page 290.  You can order the normal cover by interior artist Sami Kivela (on the left above) with Previews code APR171370, or the alternate cover by Christian Ward (on the right above) with Previews code APR171371.

BC1-Page1 excerpt

Excerpt from Page 1 of Beautiful Canvas #1 (used with permission of Ryan K. Lindsay)

So, what’s it all about??  I’m going to give away LESS than the blurb in the Previews catalog.  I read the comic before I read the solicitation and I’m glad I did.  There were several discoveries that I made along the way that gave me real “What the….?!?” moments as I caught on to something in Lindsay’s story that are given away in the solicit!

Beautiful Canvas is a story about hitwoman Lon Eisley (seen on the right above).  She’s very good at what she does, and what she does can be kind of messy (believe me, I cropped the image from the comic to create something that was as “safe for work” as possible).  It shows a small sample of Sami Kivela’s gorgeous art.  On her latest job for a billionaire, Lon ends up having a problem finishing the job.  Want the details spoiled?  Go read the solicit.  Suffice to say that she ends up on the road and on the run from a really bizarre hit team sent after her that tugs the story out of the straight crime genre into…something else.  You’ve got to see it to believe it.  More important that the “What?” is the “How?” (and maybe the “Why?”) but those are answers for issues past #1 and I’m really interested in figuring out exactly how some of the really off-the-wall things in this issue fit together and play into the larger story.

Lon is haunted by some of her past actions and seems to be trying to ease her conscience by traveling the path her decisions in this issue set her on.  We see these regrets in the form of a visualization of her inner thoughts, displayed for us on the page, and it helped me understand her better.  There is a complicated aspect to the pieces of the story fitting together.  Not all the pieces are there yet, but the pattern seems clear.  Lindsay inserts the statement “You’re overthinking it” into the issue (and on the back cover), and I tried to take that to heart.  There’s a lot to think about in this issue and there’s that fine line between thinking and overthinking.  I’ll stop dissecting the story and just make note of the elements that seem…odd.  I’ll let these resolve over the course of the series.

Sami Kivela shines on the art.  He takes a scene I’ve seen hundreds of times and makes it sublime; I’m talking specifically about page 4, where Lon enters a house to carry out a hit and Kivela’s staging of the scene, page layout with the inset panels, and the discrete moments in time he captures on the page really emphasize the artistry involved in telling a comic story.  The choices combine to make a mundane storytelling page something that really impressed me.  And he doesn’t stop there, there’s a lot more story to tell and Kivela’s page layout, camera angles, and the way scenes are cropped to place the emphasis on specific elements were amazing throughout.

Beautiful Canvas is not for the squeamish, there is language and graphic violence.  Aside from being a story about a hitwoman, we come to find that her boss is FAR worse.  There are some very twisted aspects to what makes the billionaire tick and I have a feeling we’ve only scratched the surface in issue #1.   Beautiful Canvas gave me a lot of things to think about (while being careful not to overthink) especially in light of the last panel revelation.  I’ve got a LONG wait in front of me before I read #2.  If you want to read #1, make sure you go to your local shop and ask them to order Beautiful Canvas #1 from Black Mask: Previews code APR171370.

Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
(bob@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ By Fans who Love Comics for Fans who Love Comics

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