After twelve issues, Brenden Fletcher’s Black Canary comes to a close. I won’t say I’m sad to see it go, because I’ve found it to be (largely) a hot mess. But the truth is, after these final two issues, Fletcher’s generated enough good will that I would have gladly read another few issues had they been in the pipeline.
With Rebirth changing the direction for all DC characters, great and small, this month’s finale brings Dinah’s search for answers to an end. Mysteries are solved, a final battle rages on, and the Five Heavens Palm is at last at Dinah’s…err…palm. Can Black Canary survive if Black Canary leaves Black Canary to be the Black Canary the DC Universe needs?
While I would posit that it took entirely too long to get here, Black Canary has finally started scratching at its potential; and while it’s true that it’s too late, it is certainly not too little. While #12 is more band-heavy than #11, Fletcher strikes a better balance than he did throughout the rest of the series. What before felt like an existential crisis—as though this were a “band book” because it was a neat idea rather than because there was a truly good story to be told—now works much better after two issues of narrower plot and character focus. Before, it was difficult to tell exactly what role Fletcher wanted the band to play; now it clearly serves as a detail—albeit more than a trifle–rather than playing leap frog with other, competing storylines.
Momentum helps a lot here, too. After the “Quietus” affair that concluded the series’ first arc, we began this second journey only to have delays and a filler issue cut the story off at the knees. That’s not to say I didn’t have any problems with Black Canary #8 and #10—clearly, I did—but they would have fared far better had the narrative begun after “Quietus” been allowed to build without interruption.
Better ingredients, better comics
Of course, momentum only works if you’re going somewhere, and Fletcher has shown (at last!) hints of greatness. The central conceit of the first half of this issue is a good one—one that may have you scratching (or shaking) your head for a few pages before answers begin to dawn. It even manages—like DC Universe Rebirth #1—to artfully redeem even those things that did not work so well up to this point. By the end of this, I no longer hate the band concept, even if I don’t like how it played out throughout the rest of the series. That’s saying something, too, because I disliked this series—because of the band—the moment it was announced, and reading it didn’t help. The Five Heavens Palm, the tongue ninjas, Orato—I am able to make peace with all of these, because they at last recede to their proper place in the narrative, no longer screaming “look at me” from heavy-handed references.
Great work by Wu
Having Annie Wu back doesn’t hurt, either, but it’s amazing how much better Sandy Jarrell’s pencils look when the script carries its own weight. I still prefer Wu’s style—I think her brand of “messy minimalism” looks nicer, and that she has better instincts about which lines to include and which lines to leave out—but Jarrell’s work benefits from a partner, and Fletcher’s script improvements have paid off for the artist here at the end.
Great. So why the 6?
I don’t want to spend too much time on the negative, here, because these final issues have earned more praise than scorn, but I couldn’t score Black Canary #12 much higher than average, because for all of its successes, it ends in a rush. As I said near the top, Fletcher hit his stride, but he hit it too late, and while the opening half-plus of this issue is quite well-done, the space required to pull it off left very little room for tying up the conflict and the series. If it weren’t for the filler story that took up #9, Fletcher might have been able to stick the landing, but sadly, the end suffers instead.
- You (thankfully) ignored my advice after #10 and stuck with it anyway, and you’d like one last taste of what this book might have been.
- You had trouble enjoying Black Canary but would rather have fond memories about the series than remember its struggles.
- You want Dinah to have a better transition from DC You to Rebirth than we got in last week’s Green Arrow: Rebirth #1.
This final issue gets a 6, but it is in part paying for the sins of its fathers. In reality, I enjoyed Fletcher’s end to this series quite a bit, and I wish he could have found this late-coming quality sooner. If I’m being honest, I won’t likely read this run ever again; but I can just as truthfully say that I had a good time with it here at the end.