In Review: Black Canary #1

I'm not feeling impressed by the story or visuals.

The covers: A pair of covers that hit you like a sonic scream. The Main cover is by interior artist Annie Wu. Dinah Lance has gone to one knee on stage while her band, Black Canary, plays on. The image is very stylized and the coloring really bold. This is an excellent example of what readers can expect within. I really like the look of the logo, which is broken apart as if Dinah is screaming. This definitely sticks out against all other books. The Variant cover is by Tula Lotay, who’s been doing some cool covers for Dynamite’s epic summer series Swords of Sorrow. This cover is also a rockin’ image with Dinah going crowd surfacing. It looks as if this cover could also be on its side and look just as good. She’s shown in a full body shot with a lot of hands reaching up to help her on her way. The colors are stark oranges, with Dinah in a teal top, witch matches all the helping hands. This also looks super. Overall grades: Both A

The story: The first two pages are written by Tantoo la Biche for the Burnside Tofu, “The zine for people with the right kind of taste.” It’s discussing how the current tour of the band Black Canary has been literally tearing up the road. Violence has occurred during five of their last seven concerts, making people wonder if lead singer “D.D.” is more of a UFC fighter than a singer. The front page of this zine then transitions to Dinah getting ready to go on stage. Biche’s commentary continues, “As venues and promoters begin making noise about striking the band from upcoming bills, could Black Canary’s song be over before it begins?” A full page splash shows Dianh on stage with the crowd whipped into a frenzy. Page 4 takes place after the concert when new young manager Heathcliff goes to collect the band’s pay for the evening. The club owner balks because of all the damage Dinah caused, which is then shown through flashback. I really liked the way this book opened, written by Brenden Fletcher. Using the Burnside Tofu to introduce the characters and the conflict was slick. I really liked the first two panels on Page 5, the introduction of the band on 6, and the antagonists rearing their heads on 9. Things take a turn on Page 14 and my enjoyment faltered as the true nature of the villains is partially revealed. It seemed cliché, especially with the unexplainable reactions of her bandmates. This is obviously just setting up things to come, but I had no tension and felt empty when the conflict was over. The ending was straight out of Big Trouble in Little China. I expected better. Overall grade: C+

The art: This is a very stylized looking book, which is what DC is going for given the success of Batgirl. Annie Wu does the visuals and they look okay, but I have one big issue: Dinah looks about ten years older than everyone else in the band. I believe that Wu is going for a Lady Gaga look on the character, but because she looks constantly tired or is fighting, she appears older. Page 2 is a solid introduction to the character as she’s getting ready to perform and the splash on 3 shows her in action. The rest of the band is designed to be the typical eclectic group of youthful outsiders making music. The villains initially look as though they could be agents from the Matrix, which is the expected contrast for the band, but they have a hidden appearance that becomes revealed in the final eight pages. It’s not a look that fits with the rest of the book and they seem like they were created in a hurry. Their exit is impressive, though. When Dinah gives her one scream during this issue it’s understood as an action because of her stance and the coloring. I really would have preferred to see the circular swirl that the character has traditionally used, and is used within the book’s logo. I was disappointed in its absence. This book has got a distinct style but not one that I’m being wowed by. Overall grade: C+

The colors: Joining in the stylized visuals are very stylized colors by Lee Loughridge. For example, the last panel on Page 2 and the splash on 3 uses blacks and whites against hot pink backgrounds. This gives the book a very bold punch. Every panel, if not page, is colored like this: various degrees of blacks and whites with one color and its many shades used. On Page 4 the top of the back uses violets, while the bottom half uses oranges. It gives the book a flair, but does have me wondering what the book would look like with “normal” coloring. Still, I’m liking Loughridge’s work. Overall grade: A

The letters: Four different fonts on the front page of the Burnside Tofu, opening title and credits, dialogue, a computer site’s text, a handbill, sounds, and next issue’s tease are on the playbill thanks to Steve Wands. He’s doing a wide array of fonts and all are completely appropriate and interesting. Reading all the different ways Black Canary is reported on is a visual feast. I really like the way that Wands did this issue’s story title. Overall grade: A+

The final line: I’ll give this one more issue. I’m not feeling impressed by the story or visuals. Overall grade: C+

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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