Blackbird #5 // Review
Nina Rodriguez has to find out the truth. For some reason she has to find out the truth on the westside of L.A. First, though, she had to nearly burn down North Hollywood. (But that was last issue.) Nina deals with this and so much more in the fifth chapter of Blackbird. Writer Sam Humphries continues a story drawn by Jen Bartel with color by Triona Farrell. The story take a few major turns in an issue featuring the single biggest revelation in the series thus far. Nina, her family and her cat Sharpie continue to hold ample appeal in a magical world of contemporary southern California.
Nina just burned down a property owned by her mother, who she thought was dead, but turned out to be a mysterious wielder of magic who wants her safely grounded in a mundane world outside of magic. Much to Nina’s surprise, her sister shows up and also turns out to be quite alive and outside of immediate danger...and in command of certain magics. Before issue’s end she’s given an ultimatum, her cat coughs up a vicious little screeching hairball and things get even more complicated.
Humphries’ composition of the fifth chapter in the series delivers a few major plot revelations in a steady progression. Action and drama dance around the center of the plot, occasionally coming to occupy the same space. The world-building settles-down this issue in favor of a focus on Nina and her rather unique mystical family dynamic. Sharpie loses a bit of his witty charm having coughed-up the curse that causes him to speak only in lies. He’s still a really cool, little mystical three-eyed black cat, but the lies added a fun weirdness about to the atmosphere that’s going to be missed in future issues. One gets the feeling that Humphries may have felt the joke was starting to get a little tired and he may have decided that this major shift in Nina’s narrative might have been a good time for the cat to engage in a little bit of character development as well.
Nina’s growing self-confidence has allowed Bartel to get more in touch with her body language. She speaks in more than just dialogue balloons and facial expressions than she has in previous issues. The increased physicality makes for a much more dynamic visual interaction between the hero and the world in which she exists, which is largely dominated by larger-than-life interpersonal drama this issue. The atmospheric signature of the issue takes a back seat to compellingly delivered drama in an issue that still manages to find enough moody radiance to keep Farrell’s colors.
The big revelation at the end of the issue delivers quite an impact. In a way it feels as though the end of the fifth issue reaches a resolution on so much that it almost reaches its own kind of ending. Not everything is resolved, but the central mysteries set-up in the beginning of the series have all been revealed. Humphries and Bartel could take the series in an infinite array of different directions from here. It will remain to be seen if they can keep the satisfying balance that they had achieved in the first five issues.