Review – Beautiful Canvas #2 (Black Mask Studios)

Publisher: Black Mask Studios
Writer: Ryan K Lindsay
Artwork: Sami Kivela
Colours: Triona Farrell
Lettering: Ryan Ferrier
Release Date: 26th July 2017

I’ve gotta say, it’s been a long while since I was let down by a Black Mask joint. Whatever it is, whatever strategy they’ve developed regarding the talent that they enable, it’s working – and whaddya know, along comes Beautiful Canvas to rather spectacularly continue that trend.

After that bruising, brutal fever dream of a first issue that blindsided pretty much everyone who read it last month – defying a set of about 20 different tropes and expectations – there was a lot riding on this second issue paying off on the groundwork laid. And boy, does it.

Craig said it, and I’ll say it again, the book looks incredible. Kivela’s lines are just gorgeous – in particular, his mastery of anatomy stands out, as well as his deft touch with the iconography he presents to us by way of his panel layouts. It’s a spoiler to tell you about the very best part, as it’s indeed saved for the very last page of the issue, so I can only say that you have to get out and grab it to see just how good it is. And it’s all beautifully coloured by Farrell, combining realistic character colouring with pulpy pastel backgrounds that give the story its wonderful dream-like texture.

Then there’s the lettering – and Christ, it’s been a while since I waxed lyrical about a book’s lettering – but Ferrier does such a terrific job with every aspect of it that he deserves a shout out. The whole shebang comes together to feel like The Wicked + The Divine had a dirty love child with The Long Halloween.

But the absolute show stealer is Lindsay’s script – the sass in the dialogue is real, man, and it both endears and revulses all at once. These are characters who operate exclusively within the shade of grey, and each has their own unique, crystal clear voice.

If I do have to level some criticism its way, it’s setting something of a trend at this stage of falling into the same trap a lot of stories with a central mystery are these days by raising more questions than it’s answering – epitomised by this issue ending once again on a fairly substantial cliffhanger. If it were in less gifted hands, I’d truly be able to hold this against it – but Lindsay has proven with his last two outings is that he is a master of the story plan, to say nothing of his extraordinary talent in the telling.

Is… is everyone else reading this? Why the hell not? Of course, we can hardly say for certain at this stage whether or not the arc will form into a sort of amazing Megazord of sequential art (timely reference is timely), but even if the story somehow ends up fizzling out at its denouement, what a fucking ride it’ll’ve been. Get yourself aboard this series, no excuses.

Rating: 4/5.

RSavThe Writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24

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