There’s no easy way to put this, so I’m just going to say it. I’m beginning to dislike this book more and more. In fact, I’m starting to dislike all of Fletcher’s books. Gotham Academy is pure gold, but even it is suffering right now. Batgirl is in my list of least favorite titles, and Black Canary – which started off solid – has quickly fallen in quality. What I’ve noticed about each of these titles, is that they’ve become less about the character, and more about a gimmick. And that sucks.
Initially, I was unsure of the band concept for Black Canary. I was afraid it would be a gimmick, and I didn’t want that to negatively impact how great of a character Dinah is. But two to three issues in, my reservations subsided. I actually began to welcome the band aspect of the book. It felt like Dinah’s day job, while she did the super hero thing outside of it. Seeing Dinah as a singer was believable, and worked for her personality. And it matched what Fletcher spoke to during my interview with him at SDCC. But since then, the band element has taken the spotlight, and Dinah, as a character has essentially become the “back-up singer.”
Within a matter of two to three issues, this title went form steaming with potential, to representing style over substance. This notion is even validated in the art. Annie Wu makes a lot of interesting and unique decisions, but they tend to play into the noise of the narrative. All of this makes me a little sad because I really want to like this book.
If you haven’t been keeping tabs on Dinah Lance, she’s now the lead singer of a band that is fittingly named Black Canary. As I stated previously, it started off by presenting this as her day job, and I was fine with that. It has now, however, started to consume the book. Naturally, “work” and “life” will mix at some point, but this has gone a little overboard. One of Dinah’s band members, Ditto, is actually an alien, and other aliens from her home planet are after her. Ok… sure. I think it’s a bit of a stretch, but I’m still on board. Dinah swears to protect Ditto, and then suddenly the entire band becomes super heroes (perhaps “crime fighters” is a better word) in their own respect. This is where the book starts to lose me. I can understand Dinah’s bandmates wanting to fight with her, but the book takes it beyond that. We eventually move to see Dinah’s musical competition transitioning to become her actual nemesis, which leads to band battles, fighting with instruments, and actually fighting with music… as in sound… There are times that this is interesting, but mostly it just feels corny. In fact, this book has shifted to feel corny most of the time.
This issue deals with a trippy temporal inversion fold concerning Kurt and Ditto. Kurt, now much older, has insight into what’s actually going on in the present timeline, and as the last issue stated, he’s been pulling strings since the beginning. How involved he’s been may come as a surprise to some readers… or, then again, it may not. I did have some questions about the actual logistics of this temporal fold, but I’ll get into that later.
With Kurt’s guidance and planning, Black Canary and her band have come together to stop the alien forces that are after ditto. Naturally, Amanda Waller pops back up to add an extra layer of complexity, but she’s not the only surprise. Bo Maeve also has a part to play as this arc closes itself out, and the white ninja reveals herself yet again as well.
The Art: As I stated above, Wu creates some truly interesting art. What I miss in terms of the realism in her pencils are made of with the artistic touches and flares she adds to each page. I did criticize style over substance, but I don’t blame Wu for this. Instead, I feel like I make this criticism because she is scripted to highlight what I view as the weaker aspects of the narrative. The colors in Black Canary are amazing though, and worth every ounce of praise that it receives.
Breakdowns can be found in the spoiler tag.
The Good: Flashbacks. There aren’t any full scenes, but there are flashes of memories between Dinah and Kurt, and they are all extremely lovely. I wouldn’t classify Wu’s art as “beautiful,” but some of these panels capture some beautiful moments. Kudos to both Fletcher and Wu for this!
The ending. The set-up for next few issues is an interesting one. It looks as though it could play into what’s coming in June (have you noticed how many titles are playing with time streams and/or wiped memories are popping up in books at the moment?). The reason the ending of this issue excites me is because it looks like we’re finally going to leave this whole band storyline in the past, and focus on Dinah as a martial artist.
The Bad: Band battles. I mentioned this earlier, and in my last review. I don’t find this fun. I don’t find it cute. I don’t find it “different.” I think it’s annoying. Really annoying.
The big con. So… Kurt has been behind all of these events: Bo being released from the band. Dinah joining the band. Waller getting ahold of Ditto’s DNA and using it on Bo to give her abilities. Then bringing both Dinah and Bo together to stop the creature that is after Ditto, because the ONLY way to stop it is with both Dinah and Bo’s screams… It’s a little much. It’s just too perfect.
The happy ending. These guys get along way too easily considering everything that happened. Call me a pessimist, but this entire thing wraps up a little too nicely.
- You want to know what Kurt’s been up to.
- You’re curious to see Dinah and team can save Ditto.
- You like the band aspect of this book.
Overall: Black Canary continues to be brought down by this band gimmick, and it’s something that I can’t wait to see go away. When it’s presented as a layer of Dinah, it works well. When it consumes her character, the story falls flat. If you’ve loved this arc, then I’d recommend you grab this issue. If you haven’t been fond of the band element, I recommend you save your money and wait until next month to pick up this book.