By Ben Snyder
While still slim on details and purposely vague on hidden agendas, Beautiful Canvas #2 does enough to maintain the promise and expectations that the first issue started. Although the reader will eventually need some answers, as of now simply being a part of this intricate plot thread and amazing characters is enough to satisfy for a little while longer.
There really are so many questions in this story that I can’t wait to be answered. Some of the most basic questions include: what’s the deal with the powers in this universe? Is it something more akin to X-Men or is it something else entirely? Does the entire world exist knowing people have powers such as pyromancy or do these few act in secrecy? Beginning this issue with Alex’s surreal dream sequence only heightened these questions as the reader was forced to ask, "what the hell is actually going on?".
Despite all of these questions, the confusion is never bad or frightening- it never pushes the reader away. Every question, and every detail left out feels purposeful and planned to answer later.
Lon has to be one of the more complex and progressive characters in contemporary comic books. I am loving her internal turmoil over whether she believes she is fit to be a mother with her lover, Asia, despite her past transgressions. One powerful scene involves the two consoling each other as the literal ghost of Lon’s past haunts over the two.
But the real narrative drive of this story is Alex. Why is Lon so torn up over whether to kill him or not? Why are his powers so out of control but seemingly tied to his father? How does all of this fit into the millionaire’s dream story? All of these questions can become unwieldy and cumbersome when reading this review but I believe writer Ryan K Lindsay purposefully uses this confusion to put you in the place of Alex. Because if we’re this confused, I can’t even imagine what Alex is thinking or going through. This only makes the last scene where he jumps out the window even more impactful. It comes out of nowhere. I would be surprised if Alex does wind up dying though, he simply seems too important.
Artist Sami Kivela’s realistic art style is on full display here and two scenes, in particular, are of note. The first one being Alex’s extended dream sequence. The transition of Alex’s mother transforming into a dragon as Alex sinks deeper into the water is stunningly beautiful especially as Alex’s flames illuminate the horrors deep in the water. The surreal aspects of this scene truly stick out when in contrast to the normality of the following moment between Lon and Asia.
The other scene is the climactic battle scene in which Lon almost single handily takes out an anti-Alex strike force. As Lon dons her battle suit it is made known that this is not her first rodeo and the fluidity in which Lon systemically defeats the opposition is made apparent. She is a combat veteran, which only adds to her character. And although she does take a few hits she winds up leaving the victor. Asia also has her moment as she breaks a man’s back over her knee. There are some odd moments however as the instance where Lon breaks through the window to defeat Alex’s (presumed) father looked a bit wonky, but these are few and far between when taken in with the entirety of this issue.
I am really loving this story so far. Writer Ryan K. Lindsay and artist Sami Kivela are beginning one of the cleverest and mysterious stories I have read in a long time. And while eventually, we will need answers and clarifications, being lost in this intricate plot and characters is enough to make Beautiful Canvas #2 a standout issue this week.
Beautiful Canvas #2
Black Mask Studios