BLACKBIRD #1 / Writer: Sam Humphries/ Artist: Jen Bartel / Letterer : Jodi Wynne / Publisher: Image Comics / Release Date: October 3rd 2018
An urban fantasy? A team up between the writer of Jonesy and Jen Bartel? That’s got a gorgeous synthwave aesthetic? Sign me up sailor! Blackbird is, as far as I’m concerned, one of the best looking comics I’ve seen this year- and that’s up against some pretty stiff competition, especially in contemporary fantasy comics!
(Monstress is kind of in a league of its own- it’s more a case of what comes second to Monstress.)
That alone is probably enough to draw a curious reader in, especially if you love things like The Wicked + The Divine or Monstress, which is just as well. Whilst I was intrigued and drawn in by the story and potential it is already showing, the introductions did feel a tad clumsy and rushed. It’s not a deal breaker and given that a we do have to pack a lot in (the dual setting already seems to have a lot of complex and intriguing lore), it is very understandable. Again, I don’t think this will bother anyone who’s already on-board for the art alone.
I love Jen Bartel’s art so much. I need to get some of her prints, like, yesterday! It’s employed well here- she excels at the neon magic contrasting with a boxy urban environment. Again, it’s the synthwave aesthetic, but given a solid fantasy sheen that just works. Some of her more close up work is a little choppy, but much like the rushed character intros, it’s not that off putting. It’s definitely not put me off getting the next issue!
I feel this one might be held up in the future as a comic ‘typical’ of this era. It has everything: the colors, the crisp line art, the references to classic 90’s anime fangirl trappings (it’s hard not to spot the Sailor Moon references, just saying) and post-Craft teen witch iconography.
Also, I’m a sucker for stories about sisters, especially the kind between the two leads in Blackbird. It takes some painful turns, ones that I’m sure a lot of us can relate to, but there’s also a very surprising left turn later that I honestly wasn’t expecting!
I have a feeling this won’t be for everyone, but I also have a feeling that a whole generation of girls will latch onto this immediately and it will spark imaginations for a long time. I kind of envy them.
Verdict: 3.5 out of 5.
I’m a thirty something British nerd-mum and wannabe author, fueled by tea, poor decision making and a need to be distracted. Cursed to watch favourite characters die and ships sink.