Blackbird, Vol. 1 by Sam Humphries
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I took a chance on this, and I'm glad I did. This is a very good comic with gorgeous art. The story may be a bit familiar--our protagonist is Nina Rodriguez, a messed-up young woman whose mother is dead and whose singular moment in life happened ten years ago during an earthquake when she saw, or thought she saw, a "Great Beast"--but for the most part the art carried me through. This is a hidden wizarding world, an L.A. underbelly of "Paragons" (instead of wizards) and their cabals fighting over territory. Nina, the stubborn, headstrong heroine who does not have any idea what she's doing but plunges ahead anyway, thrusts herself into the middle of this power struggle.
Of course, there's a lot more to this than meets the eye, and along the way Nina discovers the truth (or some of it, anyway) about herself and her family. This is accomplished with the help of her magical cat, Sharpie, her "Sharp Little Man" who talks and has a third eye in his forehead. She also falls in with a member of an opposing cabal, Clint, who is being set up as her love interest. This will presumably come later, as the thrust of this storyline is solving the mystery of her past and confronting the mother who abandoned her, supposedly for her own good.
What is outstanding about this comic is the art. Jen Bartel does an excellent job, with her bright, sharp colors (Nina has dyed blue hair throughout, for example), her well-drawn faces and bodies, and the well-thought-out placement of her characters, panels, word and thought balloons that make the story easy to follow. (There's quite the use of thought balloons in this story, which might seem redundant, but I didn't mind them.) The lettering also uses a readable, not-too-small font, which unfortunately is becoming more and more important for me as time goes on.
This volume, which collects the first six issues, ends on an exciting moment that promises a lot more to come. As soon as I finished this, I went looking for the next volume (or even issue), which I couldn't find a release date for. I hope this comic continues, as it's quickly become one of my favorites.
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