In Review: Black Canary #2

A slight improvement in story, but a slide in visuals.

The covers: A masked antagonist holds up a gun target, while Paloma, Ditto (wearing a comical Black Canary head), Dinah, and Byron react to something unseen. This Main cover is by interior artist Annie Wu and looks sharp primarily for the unusual coloring that makes this stand out. The three members of the band could have been eliminated from the cover for a larger image of Dinah, but what’s here looks fine. The Variant cover is by Batgirl illustrator Babs Tarr. This is a cover I like! Dinah is shouting her siren scream as she’s kneeing some guy in his most vulnerable spot. I love the ticked off look on he face and the coloring is, again, outstanding. Overall grade: Main B and Variant A

The story: Out in the middle of nowhere, in a desert, Dinah is showing Paloma, Heathcliff, and Byron how to shoot. The reason for such training is in case one of the monsters from last issue show up again for Ditto. Paloma is reluctant to shoot the gun, leaving Dinah with a muttered “Remember to be a singer in a band and not a gun-Yoda.” Looking for Ditto, Dinah finds the short girl holding her guitar, sitting on the bus’s front bumper. She brings up that her husband taught her how to shoot well, but this factoid doesn’t inspire the girl to talk. Dinah asks the silent guitarist to spill on some of her secrets, which are more numerous than those that she has. The one secret she really wants to know is “what happened on stage the other day when you were playing…The sound that came out of your guitar was like…I dunno, something I’ve never heard before. But something like I felt, like inside my body. It felt –” and then she’s cut off from a scream from Heathcliff. He and Byron claim someone is watching them. Byron says it was a “shimmer kinda thing. Like looking through frosted glass for a moment.” She sees nothing, but it’s revealed to the reader that there’s a massive floating ship before her. The resolution to this stand off from writer Brenden Fletcher is odd. I didn’t like it. I can’t believe after witnessing Dinah in action last issue, this is the choice she makes. The band then continues on their tour, until someone from their past appears, yet doesn’t bring anything to the story. My issue with this character’s appearance is that it’s a retread of what’s stated in the pull-out poster within the issue. I read about her there and her appearance adds nothing beyond what’s stated. The helmeted antagonist from the main cover does appear on the final pages, and it’s a decent squabble with Canary, but the final panel seems cliché. This was a little better than last issue’s premiere, but not much. Overall grade: B- 

The art: I’m not liking the artwork on this book. Annie Wu’s got a specific style, but it’s not what I want to have on a super hero book. It’s a little too cutesy in spots, such as the “Grape Job!” on the first page and the bunny-Heathcliff at the bottom of 3. This imagery doesn’t work with a story with such a solemn lead. There’s nothing about this group in their free time nor on the stage that lends itself to visual levity. The first five pages on the book look okay as the band practices shooting and does/does not encounter the cloaked ship. Though I don’t see how so many panels are necessary to communicate the silent portions of the story. Pages 6 and 7 contain too much wasted space and are a jarring experience after the tiny panels of Pages 2 – 5. The scenes with the assailant are good, but, again, are this many panels necessary? During the fight on Page 8 I would rather see the combat in larger panels than the final image on the page which shows a character being tossed from an odd angle. Most of the drama from the book’s revelation in the end is dissipated by being shown from a distance. The entire left side of that final panel is worthless to the story and mood. Overall grade: C-

The colors: Last issue, I loved the colors. This issue, not so much. I was fine with the first two and half pages of bright yellows and oranges, as they’re appropriate for a desert. On the bottom half of Page 3 Lee Loughridge has the coloring go Hunter S. Thompson acid trip, and there’s no reason for them to do so. The double-paged spread of 6 and 7 have left Loughridge without a clue on how to color so much dead space, so the photos are colored various neon colors, while the background is left a dead grey. When the fighting occurs, I did like the use of violets to indicate a dark setting — these looked good. Though once outside, the scene goes sickly pale pea green. Why? How does this relate to the mood or theme of the tale? It’s coming off as too random, like a dartboard is being employed to determine how this book is colored. Overall grade: C-

The letters: Steve Wands creates the opening title and credits, dialogue, a muttering, a yell, ‘zine text, handwriting on Polaroids, and next issue’s tease. Wands seems to be having a blast working on this book and it shows. Overall grade: A

The final line: A slight improvement in story, but a slide in visuals. I’ll go one more, but if it doesn’t click, I’m out. 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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