Horrors Unleashed In An Evocative Issue: ‘Canary’ #5 Review

by Olly MacNamee


‘Canary’ #5 really leans into the horror with a ghoulish looking creature running amok through the town. Scott Snyder and Dan Panosian are producing a gruesome Western-horror. A comic book that’s one part spaghetti western and one part video nasty.


In Scott Snyder and Dan Panosian’s Western-Horror Canary #5, the horror very much takes centre stages as we get the culmination of four issues worth of tense build up released onto the page via a creature terrifyingly rendered by Panosian. A jaundice-coloured zombie-like creature that sharply contrasts with the darker, blue and red pallet Panosian utilises in colouring the backdrop. The bright, burning red skies overhead helping set the appropriately horrifying atmosphere as the townsfolk run from this salivating, wrenched creature. A monster drawn in a style reminiscent of the late, great Bernie Wrightson, who Panosian seems to be channeling here. Very evocative stuff.

Alongside this very vivid, energetic and ghoulish monster raising Hell, we also get a slower building up of tension more suited to Gothic literature. As a flashback threaded throughout this instalment illustrates, our hero was once a happily married family man. But, the moment we meet him happily shooting the breeze with a local shopkeeper on his way home, you immediately know it ain’t going to be the happy welcome he was expecting. The foreboding and slow burning escalation of tension is gone very well, only adding to the tension of an issue balancing gore with suspense.

However, what I couldn’t fathom was how quickly – and off-page – the monsters are dealt with. It feels as though a scene was cut. Like when Bilbo gets knocked out in The Hobbit novel and comes round only after the big battle scene that, equally, Tolkien never included. This absence of the takedown of the ghouls felt like a wasted opportunity and, as a result, seemed to deflate some of the tension. 

Overall, though, Canary #5 is a thrill-ride of a comic book. The Western has always been a genre through which American creators have been able to mythologies its past, and so this period in America’s recent history lends itself well to a story of horror and ancient evils. Snyder has weaved a compelling story utilising many of the tropes of the Western, but shocking his readers with his injection of horror too. Panosian’s art is just sublime, with his brushwork providing a rough and rugged look to many of the characters in this series, as well as the stunning backdrops too. The Western offers rough environment that only the rough can tame. A world in which you could imagine dark horrors to exist in and thrive. Once Upon at Time in the West meets Evil Dead as published by Warren Publishing.

Canary #5 is out now on ComiXology Originals

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