Writer: Brenden Fletcher
Artist: Annie Wu
The Buzz: This one seemed to come out of nowhere, its greatest buzz being the amazing screech-rock cover art which sold the concept good and loud: Black Canary as a rock singer. Annie Wu has a lot of cred riding high from her run on Hawkeye, and Brenden Fletcher is the writer behind Gotham Academy, the recent breakout teen comic for DC, as well as the writer of the new, indie-vibe Batgirl of Burnside. So it all looked promising…
All You Need To Know: Literally nothing. I mean, it probably helps if you know or like Black Canary as a character. She’s playing the mystery woman, a lead singer in a rock band because she needs the money after her life was destroyed. But the mystery of the comic isn’t actually about Dinah (or rather: DD) at all, it’s about one of her bandmates and the weird monsters that are following them. This is a version of Black Canary I’ve never seen before, but it reminds me of some of my favourite versions of the character. She’s angry, she’s violent, and she doesn’t run a flower shop.
One point that might need elaborating on – the Dinah/Black Canary of the New 52 and the current DC universe is Dinah Drake (also known sometimes by her married name Dinah Lance), not her daughter Dinah Laurel Lance (it’s like a Mary Wollstonecraft/Mary Shelley kind of thing), which I presume is what the DD stands for. I’ve struggled with this a lot in recent years, because while I love both Black Canaries, I’m highly invested in the pre-New 52 Dinah Lance’s relationships and friendships and found it really jarring to shift into this new/old version of the character.
Story: Black Canary is a band, not a person – an up and coming grrl rock band, featuring angry lyrics and an even angrier lead singer. DD, the anonymous blonde in the fishnets (finally, it’s a long time since they’ve given us a sensible context for the fishnets) has a tendency to pick fights with the audience, and her fellow bandmates are getting sick of it. The characters are all interesting, with plenty of tensions going on, and I want to know more. Like Hawkeye and Gotham Academy, this is a story about non-superheroes living in a world full of superheroes. Love the indie, down to earth vibe, and spiky Dinah. This also feels very much like *my* Black Canary, with so many of the things I like best about the characters distilled down: her snarky humour, her crankiness (she was soooo cranky in the late 80’s), and her intense martial arts ability.
Art: By far the best feature of this comic is the startling, arresting visuals from Annie Wu, who has brought her A-game to this reinvention of a classic (practically vintage) comic character. Her women, her men, and I believe at least one genderqueer character, come across as gorgeous, interesting people rather than comic book characters, and there’s a fierceness to the music scenes that matches the fight scenes for tone and style.
But What Did I Miss?: Apart from fleeting mentions to Dinah’s lost dojo and her former sensei, and a throwaway Justice League joke, there are no continuity references to get tangled up in. This is a new, cranky Black Canary, surrounded by an ensemble of brand new characters. Start here.
Would Read Issue 2?: Yep, absolutely.
Read it if you Like: Hawkeye, Gotham Academy, Batgirl
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