The first issue of Canary was one of the best first issues I’ve read, blending horror, western, and an unnerving art style into a perfect intro issue. It left a lot left to be explored, which is both exciting and unnerving. Can writer Scott Snyder and co-creator and artist Dan Panosian keep up the high standards of the first issue? We find out today as Canary #2 is available on Comixology and continues Marshal Holt’s adventure in uncovering what is killing men around a cursed mine.
Canary #2 continues to reveal what happened to Marshal Holt and Hyrum Tell at a watering hole many years before the events of this issue that also happened to make Holt famous. This moment in Holt’s career blends the supernatural with the tall tale themes of the day, making the reader question Holt’s career. Was Tell a man with teeth in his throat who could take bullets without fear? Did Holt do the right thing at that moment, or did he murder a man in cold blood? These questions roll over in your mind while we see who Holt is in the now.
That man in the now is rugged, to be sure, but he’s also trying to see the last few missions before he can retire. He knows how dangerous this lifestyle is and aims to keep his head out of a noose long enough to ride off into the sunset. This mission he’s on takes him to a town called Canary and judging by the type of folks who live there, his days may be running out.
In these opening scenes, Snyder and Panosian reveal a new Geologist character Holt has been tasked with protecting to see through some detective work on the mine. Standing under a yellow streaky sky–that’s literally streaks of paint–the two make their way to Canary and meet some higher-ups who run the town. It’s clear early on something isn’t quite right, as if the townsfolk know there’s a secret they don’t want to get let out. Through Snyder’s dialogue, we get a bit of a cat and mouse game as the men want to sway Holt and the Geologist Edison Edwards. They may be all smiles, but they are devilish smiles.
Panosian makes you distrust the folks who are introduced as townsfolk of Canary. Like a scene out of Clue, you’ll ponder what each character’s real game is and what they’re hiding. Cool as a cucumber, Holt either doesn’t care or isn’t showing he cares, further complicating the characters’ relationship. Panosian makes every grin a little untrustworthy with hidden meaning throughout the issue. Heck, even a man sitting at a table eating his dinner in a bar leering over at Holt and Edwards seems to suggest something is fishy.
Compared to the first issue, this issue doesn’t have as good of a balance of action and dialogue. There’s some action in flashbacks, but the scenes in the present can only sustain your interest so much with Panosian’s great character acting. I was hanging on every word, but I wondered when these characters would shove off on the adventure. Thankfully this issue gets a lot of the drama between the characters set up for what will likely be an explosive third issue.
Richard Starkings’ letters also bring a lot to the dialogue, with a playful curve to captions and good emphasis on keywords. There’s also something unnerving about the yellowish word balloons with black text as if they are warmer and tension-filled.
Aside from the stark skies, there’s nothing supernatural in the present storyline, but one can imagine that may change at some point. While your mind reels with questions as far as the character’s intentions, the more profound meaning surrounding the hero Holt going back to a town that reveres him, and what the town itself stands for, you’ll thoroughly enjoy the ride it takes you on.
It’s not often we get westerns as good as Canary, but here we are enjoying one with horror themes too. While you hang on the words of the characters, you’ll ponder what their true intentions are. By the end of the issue, you’ll realize the threat may not be whatever monster lives in the mine, but the people that’ll cut our hero’s throat before he gets there.
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