10th Feb2020

‘Blackbird: Volume 1′ Graphic Novel Review (Image Comics)

by Chris Cummings

Written by Sam Humphries | Art by Jen Bartel | Published by Image Comics | Format: Paperback, 168pp

blackbird-v1-cover

From writer Sam Humphries (Harley Quinn, Nightwing) and artist Jen Bartel (Black Panther) comes a new Image Comics neo-noir series. I was immediately struck by the gorgeous cover of the trade paperback which was also the cover of the very first issue, and so I dove in head-first.

We follow a young woman named Nina Rodriguez who, regardless of what everyone else in her life believes, knows what she saw ten years ago. She saw monsters and magic, she knows she did, but nobody else can remember. Why? Also, when he sister, whom she lives with, is kidnapped by a beast, she is forced into meeting those visions of her past once more, fighting to gain control of her life again and attempting to save her sister in the process.

The illustrative work from Bartel is what immediately hit me between the eyes here. It’s bloody beautiful, and it never stops being beautiful. Frame by frame it just keeps impressing, and with the colourful characters in a mixture of relatable and obscure places, it just works superbly. Nina is a character full of whimsy, angst and humour, and so following her story, from her messy and erratic childhood to her relationships with her late mother and her (now lost) sister, to her reliance on painkillers to get through the anxiety of life, bring a real depth to her.

The writing is peppy and funny, bringing in some dry wit and sarcasm to the neo-magical tale with its monsters, magic and paragons. Humphries really breathed life into each character, from Nina to Marisa, her sister, to Nina’s talking cat, to the world of magical characters we meet as we go along. I had a real blast with Blackbird, from the start until the end of the trade, and was glad I finally checked it out.

If you’re a fan of magic realism stories, of contemporary modern fantasy and of charming and delightfully drawn books like this one is, then I urge you to pick up a copy and read it.

**** 4/5

Blackbird: Volume 1 is out now in trade paperback, collecting issues 1-6.

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