Indie Comics Spotlight: Beautiful Canvas #1, Doc Savage: The Ring of Fire #1 , and Agent 1.22 #1
By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)
Beautiful Canvas #1
“…go kill someone and I’ll give you lots of money.”
The life of an assassin can be a glamorous one at times. Other times though, the weight of the assassination can weigh pretty heavy on the assassin. Further complicating that weight is if the assassin has a life outside of assassinations like Lon Eisley in Beautiful Canvas #1 from Black Mask Studios. The issue is written by Ryan K. Lindsay, illustrated by Sami Kivela, colored by Triona Farrell, and lettered by Ryan Ferrier.
Lon Eisley is a hitwoman hired to kill a small child a few days after discovering her girlfriend is pregnant. In a bold declaration of uncertainty, she saves the boy and hits the road, despite the fact her boss clearly wanted him dead for a reason. This warped crime dystopia delves into the emotional dichotomy of creator/destroyer as Lon tries to connect the two very different worlds she now inhabits.
There’s a lot to unpack in Beautiful Canvas #1, but fortunately for readers, Lindsay has a very good handle on things. The issue starts off as a pretty simple hit job that quickly devolves into a broader message about reconciling being a parent with being a person. Lindsay emphasizes that split with rapid-fire dialogue throughout the issue that doesn’t really give the reader a second to catch up. What makes Beautiful Canvas #1 even more intriguing is a pretty big swerve about three-quarters of the way through that Lindsay handles flawlessly. Lindsay’s direction is very bold, but he’s garnered enough trust in readers to plan on him seeing things through in a way that will ultimately make sense.
There’s really no other way to say it: Kivela’s artwork is brilliant. He presents linework that is very intricate and concise, showcasing a wide variety of characters and locales with relative ease. There’s a subtle simplicity throughout the book that he uses to great effect; the most notable of which is the innocence with which the small child is illustrated. Panels are staggered and stacked in a way that lends to the frenetic life Lon leads as a hitwoman, giving Kivela a chance to offer a dizzying array of perspectives. Farrell’s colors are bold in a way that they don’t jump out at the reader.
Beautiful Canvas #1 is a solid first issue that sets up a lot for the miniseries. Lon is a very capable and skilled assassin who’s a little out of her element in much the same way that Léon was out of his element in The Professional. Lindsay’s script is very well-thought out and demonstrates an attention to the end-game. Kivela’s illustrations are gorgeous and effectively carry the visual weight of the dialogue. Beautiful Canvas #1 is an emotion-filled first issue that toys with quite a few societal expectations of women, children, and men.
Beautiful Canvas #1 is available June 28.
Doc Savage: The Ring of Fire #1
“That’s quite a dream, but as you can see, I’m not burned to ashes.”
Adventuring has its ups and downs, but you can’t really complain about the travel. And when you’re traveling to exotic locales in search of missing heroes while being one of the most renowned adventurers in the world is even better. In Doc Savage: The Ring of Fire #1 from Dynamite Comics, Doc Savage is that adventurer. The issue is written by David Avallone, illustrated by Dave Acosta, colored by Morgan Hickman, and lettered by Taylor Esposito.
1938: Amelia Earhart is missing, volcanoes are going off under US Navy bases, Silver Death’s Heads are trying to kill Doc Savage, and FDR is quite concerned about all of this.
Doc Savage is a hero from a different time and Avallone ensures that Doc Savage: The Ring of Fire #1 is full of plenty of that characterization. He spends a portion of the issue setting the stakes for the characters while also giving readers unfamiliar with Doc Savage an insight into how he operates. Doc Savage is a very bright and resourceful adventurer with a direct line to the President, yet Avallone expresses that in a way that’s more matter of fact. And getting to the meat of the story as indicated by the title in Amelia Earhart’s disappearance takes some patience, but Avallone gets there in a way that dovetails nicely with a larger plot. The plot is pretty standard for Doc Savage, but there will likely be some twists and turns throughout as Avallone gets into it deeper.
Acosta’s illustrations are a perfect fit for the tone of the character and the story. He gives each character an appearance that feels more rooted in reality and the physiology of human physiques, emphasizing the characters in ways that ground them in reality. Doc Savage especially is illustrated as more man than myth in in the issue as Acosta reinforces his impressive stature without going overboard. Characters are very expressive and Acosta focuses plenty on their facial features to convey a variety of emotions depending on the situation. And Hickman’s colors sport a wear to them that’s reminiscent of a newspaper strip from decades ago.
There’s not a lot of action in Doc Savage: The Ring of Fire #1, but business is sure to pick up sooner than later. Doc Savage is more than capable of getting through any situation regardless of how difficult it is and those traits will surely be on display throughout the series. Avallone’s grasp of the character is fantastic and reflects a knowledge of what makes Doc Savage tick. Acosta’s artwork is great and portrays Doc Savage as a person who’s a cut above the rest, but not so much that he seems to be immortal. Doc Savage: The Ring of Fire #1 is a very solid first issue that gives new readers and old a look at one of comic’s most durable characters.
Doc Savage: The Ring of Fire #1 is available now.
“I have so much more to give.”
There’s an inevitability to the future that we’ll have robots. These robots will either help or hurt us and some of them will even become capable soldiers and spies. Agent 1.22 in the aptly named Agent 1.22 #1 is one of those robots. The issue is written by Stephan Nilson, illustrated by Doug Shuler, and lettered by Charles Pritchett.
Agent 1.22 goes to Phobos to retrieve Project Vulcan from an outpost ravaged by the Tempest Virus. While there she must choose between the mission and a man.
Nilson’s script is packed with plenty of dialogue that lends itself well to a science-fiction story. There are pretty standard players throughout and Agent 1.22 is characterized more by her actions and less by her words. The other characters speak with an emphasis on the emotion behind their words – it’s as if Nilson was worried something like sarcasm wouldn’t come through with the dialogue alone. Nilson infuses much of the dialogue with examples of over-explaining things in a way that ensures the reader picks up on the nuances of the conversations. The larger story is pretty interesting though despite some of the dialogue issues as Nilson has a larger universe in mind that he’s working towards.
Shuler relies on a CGI look for the artwork that gives the book more of a video game feel. All of the characters look relatively clean in this style and Shuler manages to make the panels work as if they’re freeze-frames from a longer movie. Because of the art style though, there are also moments where characters look very rigid and unnatural, perhaps owing to the uncanny valley. And while most of Shuler’s perspectives are sound, there are a few panels that feel a little gratuitous in how they showcase Agent 1.22’s physique. The colors are futuristic and finish the artwork off with a sheen as well.
Agent 1.22 #1 is an homage to science-fiction tales of the past. Agent 1.22 is an efficient agent capable of holding her own regardless of the opponents. Nilson’s plot is straightforward and features a good mix of narrative and action. Shuler’s artwork is very heavy on the CGI component and lends itself well to the atmosphere. Agent 1.22 #1 will definitely appeal to readers looking for a good comic set in space.
Agent 1.22 #1 is available now.