Review: Black Canary

by GregFahlgren

Reviewing the two collections of DC's amazing solo title, BLACK CANARY

Hello everyone!!! Welcome to my latest review, and one that I have been DYING to dive into. Due to the popularity of her appearances of Arrow, and in light of increasing fan demand, Dinah Lance, better known to comic book readers everywhere as Black Canary, was finally getting her own solo series! (Pause for dancing and jumping).

Black Canary is one of DC’s oldest characters as well as one of its first prominent lady superheroes along with Mary Marvel and Wonder Woman. Through the years she’s had her ups and downs, but for whatever reason, she never quite got to the same level of respect as her peers. Over the last decade or so her status has climbed exponentially, and with the success of her appearances on Arrow, the time had finally arrived to let Black Canary fly on her own.

Now, this review is going to feature the entire run spread across two collections, as the title was cancelled due to the Rebirth event. However, its cancellation does not mean that the book was not good. In fact, it was a hilarious, exciting, and heart-warming story of a hero that has been down on her luck and slowly trying to rebuild her life. This is one of the best comics in recent memory, and I’m going to explain why that is, and why anyone that loves comic books, Black Canary, or just a good read should pick these collections up, pronto.

Personnel

Before we start, as always, let’s meet the creators!!

Writer: Brenden Fletcher

Artists: Annie Wu, Pia Guerra, Sandy Jarrell

Colourist: Lee Loughridge

Letterer: Steve Wands

Covers: Annie Wu

Art

Starting with the art, I want to quickly say that many times in comic books art and story don’t always link up. The tone of the art HAS to match the writer’s script, otherwise the book can fall short of what it’s supposed to accomplish. Thankfully, Black Canary did not suffer from that failing. The art and story link up near perfectly, together bringing a fresh and exciting tale of a woman trying to pick up the pieces of her life after suffering some major losses.

Annie Wu lead the charge for the team, drawing one of the most unique styles I’ve seen in a comic book. For lack of better terms, the book had a real punk rock feel to it. It was a little darker than most, the edges a little rougher, and didn’t look as clean or polished as many other books. However, that was why it worked, because that was what the script felt like. This was not a clean cut superhero book, and the art reflected that on every page. I will admit that there were so panel sequences that I had to look over multiple times to get 100%, but overall the art matched the style and tone the script was going for.

Following up on Wu’s pencils was colourist Lee Loughridge, who really took this book to another level. Every shade fit in perfectly, the colour matching panel for panel the tone of the script and the attitude of this alternative, punk rock of a comic book. I can’t overstate how good the colouring was in this book, Loughridge adding that extra punch the art needed. Letterer Steve Wands was on top of his game as well, picking just the right fonts for each character, closing out for the art team in the best way possible. Good letterers are an underappreciated commodity in the industry today, and Wands is definitely a great letterer worthy of praise.

Though there were some sequences that didn’t quite work for me personally, the art for Black Canary was the perfect fit for the tone and direction of this series, and I hope to see more from this team in the future.

Story

This book was very much a reset for Dinah Lance, whose adventures in the New 52 universe has left a lot to be desired (see Birds of Prey). When we meet Dinah in issue 1, her life is pretty much in shambles, setting up Brenden Fletcher’s story as one of both redemption and self-discovery. This woman, one of the most tenured and powerful in DC, was rebuilding her life from the bottom up, and trying to find her place in a world that had been so cruel to her.

That fresh start leads Dinah to go into hiding, joining a band (not-ironically named Black Canary) under the alias DD as their new lead singer. From there, she goes on a series of adventures, oft times with rival bands fighting her much to their eventual regret. Over time, dark forces begin to gather, forcing Dinah back into the superhero life while still trying to make the bands tour dates (because even superheroes need to pay the bills).

As the stories progress, we are reintroduced to Dinah’s ex-husband Kurt, deepening the emotional weight of the adventure, and the layers begin to peel off of why people keep attacking the band. Through both collections we witness countless battles, AMAZING guest appearances by Batgirl and Vixen, and some of the deepest, most emotionally draining storytelling I’ve read in recent memory.

Brenden Fletcher really gets Dinah, and is the first writer since Gail Simone that I feel understands the character at her core. Sure, Dinah’s a badass, but there is more to her than just a scream and a right hook. She’s a fighter, a warrior, and one hell of a good friend that will sacrifice EVERYTHING for the people she cares about. Fletcher gets that, and puts it on full display, giving Dinah her best outing since the beginning of the New 52.

The best issue for me was the dream sequence where Dinah sees her future, or what her future would be if she didn’t become who she needed to be. Heart-wrenching and harrowing, Dinah rises from those nightmares stronger than ever to fight back, becoming the Black Canary we all know and love in one glorious moment.

I was really impressed by Fletcher’s writing, though there could have been a few more light moments to break up the darkness of this book, though that darkness did fit with the one of the story Fletcher was trying to tell. The book ended with issue 12, but I would very much like to see Fletcher work with Dinah again someday, his work giving us the best Dinah Lance in some time.

Final Verdict

Black Canary is a perfect example of what happens when you take a team of talented creators, give them a character they love, and let them run with the ball. This book was just awesome. The art was top notch, the story fun and emotionally driven, and together the two sides of the creator coin came together to form one of the best comic books I’ve read in recent memory. Yes, there were some sequences I didn’t quite get, and I felt there could have been a little more humour, but all in all, I think Black Canary was a wonderful book that I highly recommend to everyone.

Unfortunately, with Rebirth sweeping DC, Black Canary was cancelled, but this book should be remembered for helping bring Dinah Lance back to prominence in a big way. The evidence of that is that she is featured in two major DC titles since Rebirth, building on what Fletcher, Wu and company did with this book. Cannot recommend this book enough, and any fan of Black Canary needs to have this series in their collection.

Check Out My Other Reviews

Reviewing the Secret Wars Tie-In that introduced Marvel's best new team of badasses!
Reviewing the 2nd Collection for A-Force, Marvel's newest Super-Team book.
Reviewing DC's Original Graphic Novel featuring two of the companies best Super Heroines.
Reviewing the first collection of Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk's MOCKINGBIRD.
Reviewing Part One of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s masterful re-imagining of the origin of the Caped Crusader!
A in depth review of Alex Ross's classic graphic novel, JUSTICE!
Reviewing for the Wolverine Classic and soon to be motion picture, Old Man Logan
An in depth review for one of comic books most revered titles.
Reviewing the start of Gail Simone’s amazing run on Red Sonja as she teams with a host of all-stars for a series of stories for everyone’s favourite She-Devil.
Review of the first collected edition for Gail Simone's critically acclaimed Red Sonja run.
Reviewing the second arc of Gail Simone's awesome run on Red Sonja!!
Updated: 01/06/2017, GregFahlgren
 
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