Review – Beautiful Canvas #1 (Black Mask Studios)

Publisher: Black Mask Studios
Writer: Ryan K Lindsay
Artwork: Sami Kivela
Colours: Triona Farrell
Lettering: Ryan Ferrier
Release Date: 28th June 2017

“You’re overthinking it.”

Lon Eisley is a hitwoman with a dilemma.  On one hand, she wants to start a family with her pregnant wife, but on the other, she’s plagued by disturbing memories about past contracts that are making her doubt whether she’s actually capable of being a good person or not. And in this brand series from Black Mask Studios, Lon finds herself grudgingly taking a job that’s going to force her to make some pretty major decisions about where her priorities truly lie.

From the creative partnership of Sami Kivela and Ryan K Lindsay, who previously collaborated on ComixTribe’s “surf noir” story Chum, this new series takes an interesting look at the wonderful contradiction between creation and destruction. Lon is paid to take lives, but also finds herself involved in the creation of a new life, and when her latest job asks that she take the life of another child, she refuses, absconding with her intended victim in, and I quote, “some kind of buddy road trip”.

Lindsay’s clear passion for this project pours out of every page as he unleashes a shotgun blast of storyline buckshot, hitting us with a variety of different styles, genres and storyline threads over the course of this first issue.  Initially selling itself as a stripped-down character piece about a hitwoman dealing with contradictions between her personal and professional life, it doesn’t take long before we’re met with psychopathic billionaires, a mutated half-animal special ops team and a decidedly otherworldly twist in the final pages.  It’s a legitimately dizzying experience – but in a good way, y’know?

That said, there are some moments where Lindsay’s “buckshot” approach causes some slightly uncomfortable disorientation too as we zig-zag from the past and present tense and from the ordinary to the supernatural.  It sometimes feels like there have been pages missed as we hop from one scene to another, and while repeat readings allow us to get a better feel for the cadence of the story, that first read-through is likely to leave you with some raised eyebrows and burning questions.

One thing that doesn’t require repeat readings to fully appreciate is the artwork of Sami Kivela, whose slick, expressive style sizzles alongside Lindsay’s story, creating an effortlessly cool aesthetic.  A little bit David Aja, a little bit Tyler Boss, Kivela throws in some fantastically inventive panel layouts, including one particularly brilliant page where snorting drugs off a carrot leads seamlessly into a brutal ‘hit’ from Lon.  You can check it out in the preview below.

Triona Farrell also deserves a huge chunk of the credit for the look of the series, with a muted palette of pastel colours and the use of a distinctive washed-out colour set to differentiate Lon’s flashbacks from the present day scenes.  Oh, and it probably goes without saying, but Ryan Ferrier’s lettering is as slick and unobtrusive as you’d come to expect from the talented Canadian by now.

Beautiful Canvas is a story impressive in its ambiguity, with a compelling lead and a slick visual style.  It’s not what I thought it was going to be when I started reading, but that’s okay, because Lindsay and Kivela have aggressively grabbed my attention here, and I absolutely cannot wait for the second issue to find out just where the hell this story is going.

Rating: 4/5.

[Click to Enlarge]

ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
Article Archive: Ceej Says
You can follow Ceej on Twitter

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  1. Review – Beautiful Canvas #2 (Black Mask Studios) – BIG COMIC PAGE
  2. What They Say About Me & Sami – BEAUTIFUL CANVAS #1 Review Quotes | Without Fear

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