Review: ‘Canary’ #1 Is A Tense, Gritty Western With Horrors Bubbling Under The Surface

On the surface, Canary #1 by Scott Snyder and Dan Panosian is a gritty Western set at the turn of the century in the Utah Territory. A gritty backdrop with equally gritty characters inhabiting these last days of the “wild” west carved into each page by Panosian’s appropriately gritty art style. Even his lush, warm textured colours evoke classic Westerns of yesteryear such as Unforgiven, A Fist Full of Dollars and more. But, something wicked this way comes and it’s our would-be hero, Marshal Holt, who is set on a course to find out want horrors exist below the arid surface of America’s west.

Opening up on a murder scene the reader is initially encouraged to assume this may well be a murder mystery, but upon learning the identity of the murderer one cannot help but feel something is off. Especially when Holt hears of further bizarre crimes breaking out across the newly united states of America.

As part of the media’s long-mythologised history of this period in American history we get a lead character in Holt akin to other such masculine, testosterone-fuelled anti-heroes. A man who reflects his environment and thrives in it too. Although his dapper suit and profession as a Marshal would suggest otherwise. However, his actions certainly are that of prior Western icons. Think Clint Eastwood, but in a pin-striped suit.

But, it’s in the unfolding story of horror that Snyder deviates this series from the norm. And besides which, I’m a sucker for a good Western and with Panosian on art duties, this is a well drafted, tense and promising first issue that is far from your paint-by-numbers Western. Including elements of murder mysteries, horror and some well captured voices helps this issue engage with readers from the very off. The use of panoramic panels capturing the barren setting of the Utah Territory in the early throes of Autumn also gives this a sweeping cinematic quality too. The issue opens with a scene setting, tone-setting establishing shot before zooming into the crime scene and the introduction of Holt as he stands over the body of the murder victim, a young, prim-looking school teacher. These panoramic shots are used to great effect throughout the issue to better establish the rough terrain and helps sustain tension at the appropriate times.

Canary #1 is a Western/horror hybrid that’s suspenseful, compelling and thrilling read. It blends the familiar with the unfamiliar with the unnerving tension Snyder and Panosian capture and sustain so well throughout that cannot help to grab the readers attention and pull them in.

Canary #1 is out now on comiXology.

On the surface, Canary #1 by Scott Snyder and Dan Panosian is a gritty Western set at the turn ofCOMICONRead More

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