File it under noir, action or sci-fi and you wouldn’t be wrong in this mind-bending original comic.
Hitwoman Lon Eisley took a job she didn’t finish. She ended up protecting a boy named Alex rather than killing him. While it might have seemed like the right thing to do at the time, it wasn’t without consequences, especially since the woman who hired you is rich, powerful and psychotic. There were also mutant thugs, a macabre photographer and torture gardening, but Alex’s secret power might be the most dangerous of all. Issue two shows us a few more pieces of the puzzle to try and put in place.
The debut issue of Beautiful Canvas packed a lot of inventory in a small bag. Character introductions, seemingly unrelated plot threads being plucked and a world that seemed close to ours, but not quite. For all the bouncing around issue 1 did, issue 2 has a narrative that was a little more straightforward.
Issue #1 ended with Lon and Alex being blindsided by mutant thugs modeled after knock-off superheroes from the dollar bin, who almost finish her off as she is protecting Alex. After a short beat-down nap, Lon awoke to find her attackers slain and the little boy she was protecting wasn’t exactly as helpless as she thought. Issue #2 picks up a short time afterwards, where Lon has taken Alex back to the place she shares with girlfriend Asia, to work on her next move. They also touch on their own relationship problems, which may or may not have to do with a creepy ghost kid that seems to be following Lon around, either literally or in her mind. Also to take note of in the issue: mechanical fisticuff armor, psychic toothpaste and a man with similar powers to Alex who may not have the best intentions.
I like what writer Ryan K Lindsey did with this issue a bit more than the first volume, as far as story structure. I mention in my review for that issue how I had to reread it when I was done. Part of that was trying to keep of track of the many new characters, but also because so many different situations were introduced that were only a page or two in length. Some didn’t gain enough traction with me because they weren’t revisited. That’s not as much the case with #2, as the only jumping around is to previously introduced characters. I still got Milla’s photographer confused with Eric, but overall the whole book felt like it progressed more naturally. In fairness, the length of comics is always a constraint and a larger volume that contained both issues 1 and 2 would make the first issue flow better.
There’s a good action scene towards the end, as we get to see some combat armor-assisted butt-kickery by Lon, courtesy of illustrator Sam Kivela. He also drew a neat panel when the “Trancers” invade Lon and Asia’s apartment and Asia’s eyes are reflected in the visor of the one confronting her. He put some nice touches throughout the issue and draws facial reactions on the characters realistically in the close ups.
Is It Good?
Beautiful Canvas still doesn’t feel like it’s found its pacing, but there’s still a lot of good things happening in its pages. It’s an inventive book and doesn’t give up its answers so easily that you’d get bored with it. However, main character Lon is silent and broody and whether I actually like her is up in air until there are some details to make her more three dimensional. All the elements are there for me to really like this book, but they haven’t quite come together yet. Still, it’s an intriguing book with enough mystery and inventiveness that I’ll stick with it for a while longer.