Comic Book Review: Beautiful Canvas #1
Ryan K. Lindsay is one of the biggest rising stars in comic books today. After his excellent miniseries “Negative Space” with Owen Gieni, he’s run a couple of successful Kickstarters and took part in DC’s Writer Workshop. This week, he, artist Sami Kivela and colorist Triona Farrell launch “Beautiful Canvas”. “Beautiful Canvas” #1 is a hitman story unlike any other.
“Beautiful Canvas” #1 introduces us to Lon, a hitwoman who’s just found out that her girlfriend is pregnant. As she’s dealing with this news, she’s hired to kill a young boy. When she arrives to his home to carry out the hit, she backs down and kills someone else and takes the boy with her. This sets off a chain of events that forces Lon to hit the road as she tries to not only keep this boy alive but also keep a hold on her personal life.
“Beautiful Canvas” #1 wants to do a lot and it succeeds at what it sets out to do. This isn’t just a simple “hitwoman botches job cause of feelings” kind of story. There are a lot of layers to this story and what’s so amazing about this first issue is that it feels a lot bigger than it really is. Lindsay’s script covers almost every piece of this huge story without creating chaos within the narrative. A lot of information comes at you but not once does it become confusing.
One of the most interesting things about “Beautiful Canvas” is how it’s kind of full of a lot of different things that shouldn’t necessarily work together but do. On the one hand, you have a woman who’s trying to reconcile her violent profession with impending parenthood. On the other hand, there is an element of superpowers here that doesn’t necessarily match with the earlier parts of this issue. With that said, none of what happens in the last few pages feels out of place. It’s a contradiction in the building of this world that matches the contradiction of Lon herself and because of that, this is something incredibly unique and special. My biggest complaint about this first issue is that Asia, Lon’s girlfriend, feels like a footnote for now. She doesn’t do more than serve as a plot point for Lon.
Sami Kivela and Triona Farrell are a fantastic artist team. Kivela’s work is gritty and realistic with a flair. The violence Kivela draws has a purpose and is deliberate. It doesn’t exist to simply shock. Kivela’s art is full of raw, human emotion as each and every page features excellent character work. Visually, Lon is a stunning lead character. Your eyes won’t want to come off of her and as the focal point of the story, that’s a great thing. This script moves around a lot and Kivela is our guide to all that. His panel layouts are fantastic and he’s got a great sense of setting. He’s able to bring something different to each location this story takes us and he also brings a wonderful sense of movement to the later pages of the issue. Farrell’s colors are really interesting because they don’t go with a conventional darker look for this story. Farrell’s colors infuse bright pinks and neon blues in a refreshing way. This not only helps with differentiating flashbacks but also gives “Beautiful Canvas” #1 a very distinct look. Kivela and Farrell do so much on their own that it allows the story to be told with context without needing unnecessary narration or extra exposition.
“Beautiful Canvas” #1 is the start of something that will be very special. This is unlike anything else in the genre and this creative team is so in sync with each other that it’s hard to pass on this. I’m eager to see this story unfold.