In Blackbird #2, Nina searches for her spirited away sister Marisa and uncovers more clues about the magical world of the paragons while remembering her fraught past relationships with her family. The creators add more to Blackbird‘s worldbuilding in this issue while progressing the story and start to firmly establish what the action of the plot might look like in the issues going forward. Does the new issue keep up the momentum set up by the strong debut?
Co-creators Sam Humphries and Jen Bartel do a lot of work in this issue in both worldbuilding and building the emotional stakes through Nina’s relationship with her family. The script continues to convey a very grounded voice in Nina. By repeatedly returning to thoughts of alcohol or medication while narrating, her compulsions are made clear in a way that feels realistic. The dialogue in the flashback scenes showing a Christmas dinner with her family also felt real and grounded even with only a few pages worth of time to make those connections between the family members feel important. Nina’s dad feels a little one-dimensional so far, falling deep into “deadbeat dad” tropes that are far from new, but hopefully future issues will flesh him out a bit. Either way, the flashback is used well, making the characters likable while building the emotional stakes in Nina’s search for her sister.
Humphries and Bartel also develop the conflict through their excellent world building. This issue follows the first issue’s practice of drip-feeding information, but Nina’s interaction with the world of the paragons in this issue and what she gains from it had me very excited to see what happens next. Humphries and Bartel are beginning to show what the limits of magic might be in this world while continuing to deliver fantastical moments nearly as unsettling as they are wondrous. Sailor Moon‘s influence on the series is beginning to show more and more clearly, which is all the more exciting for readers like me who can’t say no to a magical girl moment.
Colorist Triona Farrell wields neon to great effect in this issue. There are a lot of blues accentuated by neon pinks all over the pages that give the issue a vibrant palette, but relaxing feeling through all the blue. Farrell’s subtle shading work also stays out of the color’s way while adding a lot of depth to the textures seen in outfits like those of the paragons seen in the issue. Bartel’s inking doesn’t add a lot of black to the page and Farrell’s shading and light work keeps the space between the lines breathable and letting the bright neon colors convey the mood. Whenever there’s magical business afoot, Farrell conveys the mystical through warmly glowing colors that trick the eye into thinking there’s a real light source emanating from the pages.
Paul Reinwand’s layouts give the issue an even pacing throughout, but they felt a bit stiff and conventional. Aside from one page that featured a more fantastical sequence, the panels are arranged uniformly enough that while they move the story along, they don’t do much outside the norm. I think the magical feeling of the series would be elevated with layouts that allow the panels to breathe and move around a bit more. Jodi Wynne’s lettering feels energetic throughout, especially when it comes to sound effects and emphasized shouts or exclamations. Sound effects that warp around Bartel’s line work during magic spells are especially fun to look at.
Overall, Blackbird #2 added a lot to the world of the comic and made me excited for the next issue to come out. The Sailor Moon influences are winning a lot of points with me and the emotional stakes feel grounded and important enough to keep me invested in Nina’s search for her sister.