A mild-mannered event planner by day and masked vigilante by night, Becca can usually be found sipping an iced coffee and scouring the stacks at her local comic shop. She splits her time between the TARDIS, Burnside, and Avengers' Tower.
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Black Canary is one of DC’s most noteworthy heroines, and fans have been excited to see her leading a solo comic this summer. Black Canary #3 just hit shelves last Wednesday; if you haven’t started reading this book, you’re missing out!
With the creative team of Brenden Fletcher (Batgirl, Gotham Academy) and Annie Wu (Hawkeye, Batgirl Beyond) leading this comic, Black Canary has already more than lived up to its description as a “kung fu rock and roll road trip” and we’re only three issues into their run. Black Canary picks up after the events of Batgirl #40, with Dinah having accepted a gig as a part of the rock band Black Canary. (It’s worth noting that in this comic, Dinah goes by “D.D.” while “Black Canary” refers to the band.)
But you needn’t have read Batgirl to pick up with this story.
Black Canary kicked off a tour to promote their soon to be released EP. They have gained a reputation as “the most dangerous band in the world” when 5 of their first 7 shows end violently, typically in the form of their mysterious lead singer D.D. laying waste to any perceived threats. The majority of the first issue is spent laying the groundwork for the rest of the series by introducing the cast of characters and many potential sources of conflict.
In addition to their master martial artist D.D., the band is made up of three other members: Lord Byron on drums, Paloma Terrific on keys, and a young girl known only as Ditto on guitar. Their tour is managed by a recent graduate of Gotham Academy named Heathcliff Ray.
As you might expect with such an inexperienced group, there are missteps aplenty, but that starts to change around the midpoint of the issue when Lord Byron and Dinah have a conversation about what Black Canary means and how everyone needs to work together to succeed. And it looks like they might have figured it out until mid-show three peculiar strangers show up and attack the band! Dinah leaps into action but is thwarted when the strangers transform into skeletal black monsters. Not one to be easily shaken she then uses her trademark Canary Cry to literally bring the roof down on them. The encounter leaves the band shaken, especially since it was revealed that the monsters were after Ditto. The issue ends with Dinah declaring that they will start hand to hand combat training the next day.
Issue 2 picks up in the midst of a Black Canary training session in the middle of the desert. Dinah is struggling to get her band mates to take the training seriously, finally storming off after Paloma makes a remark that sets her off. While walking with Ditto, Dinah reveals some of her history (up until this point a mystery), telling the girl that she learned to shoot from her husband a long time ago. The training session is interrupted when Dinah senses an invisible air craft near the tour bus and she rallies the band to get out of that location. This is where things this issue start to get really interesting as we are confronted by the former lead singer of Black Canary, a young woman named Maeve. Maeve has had bad blood with the band since she was dropped in favor of Dinah for the tour. The confrontation ends quickly (and without bloodshed) and we follow the band into a local music shop where Ditto reveals some more of her strange powers, causing guitar strings to vibrate in tandem with Dinah’s vocal chords. But Black Canary can’t stay out of trouble for long. They’re soon attacked by another group of men wearing masks, including Kurt, Dinah’s husband.
Black Canary #3 hit shelves this past Wednesday, and in my opinion, really started to shine in this issue. There is plenty of Black Canary doing what they do best, taking down anyone that stands in their way. This time, however, Dinah isn’t acting alone, as her band mates are using the training she’s provided to take down the strange group that is still in pursuit of them. It’s confirmed by Kurt that the group is after Ditto, and that she is in fact, an extra terrestrial. There are multiple groups in pursuit of the band, and they all want Ditto for her unknown powers. In a twist that made me gasp out loud, Kurt reveals that Dinah’s Canary Cry was a result of government experimentation on Ditto and Dinah. Unbeknownst to Kurt and Dinah, Maeve is listening to their conversation and sees an opportunity to get her band and her 15 minutes of fame. Maeve kidnaps Ditto.
My absolute favorite part of this series is the look and feel. Fletcher and Wu have taken the rock and roll concept and woven it into the very core of the story, but never in a way that feels forced. The very first issue opens with a spread that reminds me of the zines I used to get at the dingy little New Jersey club shows I went to as a teenager. It’s a spread that appears in every issue, and for me, really nails the heart of Black Canary. (So far my favorite has been the spread that came in Issue 2, printed on the back of a tear-able tour poster designed by Wu.) It’s beautiful, but in a deliberately unrefined and imperfect way, much like Black Canary themselves.
In particular, I love the way that Wu captures Dinah, typically with a facial expression most closely resembling a sneer. Dinah is pretty, but that’s not what you notice first. You notice that she is fierce, and then beautiful. This characterization is carried through Fletcher’s storytelling as little bits and pieces of her back story are revealed. She is tough, but for good reason. She’s had a hard life, and she doesn’t trust easily, but she is a devoted friend and very protective of those that she does trust. The fact that the story-telling and art style work so well together is a testament to the prowess of this creative team.
Even with excellent story-telling and superb artwork, Black Canary wouldn’t be such a treat without the colours brought by Lee Loughridge. The palette of the series is very bright and very warm, featuring a lot of intense neon pinks and oranges offset by denim blue and pale plums. It’s a color scheme that is not repeated on any other book that I’ve seen recently, further differentiating this series.
This is the comic that I recommend to friends looking to get into or back into comics. It’s not saddled with decades of continuity or a traditionalist approach. It’s fun, full of mystery, and action-packed without being overly violent. If you aren’t already reading Black Canary, you should be.
And you should listen to this Spotify Playlist while you do.
Becca Tyrrell is a Contributor To ComiConverse. Follow her on Twitter: @ArrTee
It’s fun, full of mystery, and action-packed without being overly violent.