Betrayed by the people she loves most in the world, Nina is on her own with uncontrolled magical powers, caught between two major Cabals. Can she navigate her way between them?

Blackbird #5BLACKBIRD #5

Writer: Sam Humphries
Artist: Jen Bartel
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Letterer: Jodi Wynne
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: February 13, 2019

Previously in Blackbird: Nina and Clint go to the Observatory, where they find the Great Beast. Not only that, but the Great Beast is Nina’s mom, who died in the earthquake years ago. All Nina has wanted for years is to see her mom, who now acts like a complete stranger to her. Clint’s dad, Carter, shows up. There are political dealings among the Cabals of Paragons, and the two of them make an agreement. And then Nina’s mother uses her magic to order Nina to forget her. But, as before in her childhood, it doesn’t take, and instead, she remembers more from that time. Then she awakens in her sister’s apartment. When she goes out, she meets one of the police detectives she saw at the shoe store who has been trying to break up the Paragons for years because of all the murders they’re responsible for. After this, Nina cannot trust her own beliefs and doesn’t understand why her mother doesn’t seem to love her. She goes to her mother’s grave and digs up her coffin, only to find it empty. Her cat returns, and through its constant lies, helps her realize the truth. She has a Paragon gem with her and uses it. She gets into her mother’s gem dispensary, resists the Paragons who try to kick her out, and uses the power of the gem to set it on fire.


Blackbird #5 is very dreamlike, but it hits upon some hard truths. For most of her life, Nina has been searching for Paragons. Now that she’s found them, she realizes that she’s now searching for the truth. The fire she caused almost burned down North Hollywood. Her mother, Gloria, watches the blaze, and as she speaks, we learn that Nina is more than just a troubled girl. Then we see that Gloria is talking to Marisa, Nina’s sister whom she has been looking for. Marisa is also a Paragon. But why are they isolating themselves from Nina?

Nina runs from the fire, frightened of the huge amount of damage she caused. She stops to catch her breath and finds she has a handful of various gems from the dispensary. Marisa shows up to talk to her, and Nina realizes her sister is a Paragon. This is where the family drama comes back around. Nina is pissed that not only her mother but also Marisa, who both promised to stay with her, have both abandoned her (not to mention actually being Paragons). Marisa says it was for her own good. The argument escalates into a fight using magic, and in public. I think a lot of us can identify with this – a moment when we wanted to show we were grown up, only to be denied for our own good.

Nina goes back to her bar, and Clint shows up. She’s initially glad to see him, then remembers that she doesn’t trust him either. Then she asks him why the cop says that he’s dead. He says that’s the Paragon initiation – they give up their lives for power. But Clint says his dad wants to talk to her, and it has to do with how she can use the gems. Nina is still angry, and to try to get her to trust him, Clint shows her his real face, heavily scarred from the burns that killed him.

Carter tells Nina that Gloria had come to talk with him. She wants them to use spells on Nina to make her forget everything, including her and Marisa. Nina looks at Clint and his father, and sees they are both telling her the truth. Carter offers her a choice – they can do what her mother wants, and send her back to having a normal life, or they can make her a Paragon, but she’d be with their Cabal. But the decision isn’t hers – it’s up to Sharpie, her cat. As I said, very dreamlike.

Clint casts a spell which expels a curse from the cat (and ruins Clint’s fancy shoes). Sharpie tells Nina that Gloria cursed him, that she didn’t want Nina to know the truth, and that even Nina’s memories are lies. She thinks she’s already figured out the truth, but he says there’s more to it, and that he can help her to see it. She agrees and he shows her. The earthquake, the pivotal moment of her life – she didn’t survive it after all. She died that night.


Blackbird #5 has the most exquisite art. The lines are clean and delicate and the expressions are very clear. Nina burns with anger, but in between times she continues to have fears and doubts, and we can plainly see how driven she is, and how she is making decisions on the spur of the moment.

I really like the Paragons’ outfits. They’ve been on the border between stylish and almost outlandish all along, but they’ve all been consistently lovely. Now that the story is clarifying the Cabals, we can see that there are some color themes within them. Considering how individual everyone is, having some common colors among people really does help in keeping track of who is who.

And overall the coloring is gorgeous. Night skies are not black when they can be blue or purple and dotted with stars. The magical fire Nina started is vivid pink. Hidden Paragon buildings glow with a soft blue. The magical fight between Nina and Marisa has richly saturated color as well as really cool sound effects which vary depending on the magic being used.


While Nina started out as someone deeply depressed, in Blackbird #5 we can see her problems run deeper than that. But she’s also not someone to drown in her problems – she is stubborn and she is a fighter. It’s heartbreaking to see her memories of her family fall apart around her and to watch her struggle to build something new for herself.

Blackbird #5

A Solid Win

Blackbird #5 is very dreamlike, but it hits upon some hard truths.

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About Author

By day, she’s a mild-mannered bureaucrat and Ms. Know-It-All. By night, she’s a dance teacher and RPG player (although admittedly not on the same nights). On the weekends, she may be found judging Magic, playing Guild Wars 2 (badly), or following other creative pursuits. Holy Lack of Copious Free Time, Batman! While she’s always wished she had teleportation as her superpower, she suspects that super-speed would be much more practical because then she’d have time to finish up those steampunk costumes she’s also working on.

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