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"Blackbird #1" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by Image Comics

Blackbird 1 00

Written by Sam Humphries
Illustrated by Jen Bartel
Layouts by Paul Reinwand
Colored by Nayoung Wilson and Jen Bartel
Lettered by Jodi Wynne
2018, 32 pages, $3.99
Comic released on October 3rd, 2018

Review:

Nina Rodriguez has always felt a little different. She sensed something lurking just out of view. After an earthquake revealed the presence of a secret magical world hiding in plain sight, she's been trying to prove its existence. Fast forward a few years to adulthood and Nina is drowning out these thoughts with pills and she's tired of everyone thinking she's crazy. Then she sees the magical monsters again and everything changes.

Blackbird jumps into high gear immediately. It's so easy to get wrapped up in Nina's life as we're introduced to her as a teenager. She runs out of her house during the earthquake to find a giant glowing lizard lion creature standing above an overpass. It looks like it's alight with blue flame, simultaneously gorgeous and terrifying. You can't tell at first if it's trying to help the people or eat them. This is the kind of magic we're dealing with.

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Jen Bartel's artwork is electrifying. She also handles the colors with help from Nayoung Wilson. At times, Blackbird is a trippy journey through fantasy before everything comes crashing back down to reality. It's no wonder Nina becomes obsessed with finding these creatures again because they represent the polar opposite of everything else in her life. They're this bright shining beacon of energy and she's in this drab, ho-hum normalcy.

The magical qualities of these beings also comes through in their speech. Letterer Jodi Wynne uses unique orange word balloons and an ancient-looking font. This creates an eerie feeling which works well as Nina is literally hearing something from another world.

Much of Blackbird #1 is spent learning about Nina and her life. We get a lot of information about her and some of it is presented as flashbacks. This is a tricky setup because it could come off as dry or boring. Fortunately, Sam Humphries spaces this out so it doesn't come across as a history lesson. Instead, it's more like a conversation with each new thought adding more to your knowledge of Nina and pulling you deeper and deeper into her world.

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Click image to enlarge

While Nina has some problems, we see her from a different perspective than those closest to her. Her sister Marisa wants what's best for Nina, but she is grounded in reality. She doesn't know what else is out there so she doesn't understand what Nina is really trying to do. Marisa only sees a damaged young woman that is so close to going over the edge.

Although Blackbird is more in the fantasy aisle than horror, there are a number of spooky and unsettling elements to the story that make it worth checking out. Nina's life is at times unbelievable and frightening as she struggles to deal with the terrors of what is lurking beneath the surface of our world. The idea that something sinister is happening right under our noses is a chilling one.

Grades:

Story: Fourandahalfstars Blackbird 1 Cover
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Art: Fivestars
Overall: Fourandahalfstars

About The Author
Spez Bio 2
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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