Blackbird #5

Written by: Sam Humphries
Art by: Jen Bartel
Colors by: Triona Farrell
Letters by: Jodi Wynne

Most stories, in comic books or elsewhere, tell familiar tales. I thought Blackbird was going to be the story of a girl who lost her mother and consequently lost her way. That the discovery of magic, and the fact she was right to believe in it all along, was going to be her hero’s journey to redemption. I kind of expected her to have to avenge her mother.  But no, Blackbird is a different beast.

By revealing in issue 3 that Nina’s mother is not just alive, but a paragon herself, the story is flipped on its head. Reading this month’s issue continues breaking my heart for Nina. I had expected Nina’s mother to maybe have been revealed to be evil, or to be hugely caring but unable to have reached Nina. Instead her mother entirely ignores her. She does not reach out, she does not attempt to explain, she just doesn’t prioritise how all of these revelations impact her own daughter at all.

At some point, I’m sure, all of this will be explained. However I’m not sure if it will be by Nina’s mother. It’s visceral how uncomfortable this unfamiliar narrative is, where a long lost child isn’t embraced and apologised to. Issue 5 continues with these revelations and continues to make me root for Nina to find someone in the world who will care for her. She so clearly deserves and needs it.

As we get to see more of the world of paragons, so Jen Bartel’s art gets the space to flourish in brilliant design. These pages are like a box of treats, with each panel beautiful and almost shiny.

Some of the references in Blackbird go slightly over my head as a non-Hollywood, non-American reader, but none of that detracts from a stunning and fascinating series. I thoroughly recommend Blackbird.


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