Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Black Canary #6 - A Review

I honestly want to like the DC You Black Canary series. Dinah Lance has always been one of my favorite heroines but I don't think The New 52 has served her very well as a character. And after six issues, I don't think this series is doing her any favors either.

The centerpiece of this issue is a literal battle of the bands between Dinah's band, Black Canary, and a new group fronted by Dinah's self-styled rival, Bo Maeve. Bo has a grudge against Dinah's band, who ditched her in favor of a lead singer who was less of a diva. And now, with the assistance of Amanda Waller, Bo is back with sonic superpowers to rival Dinah's and a bad-girl group with powers of their own.

This should be awesome and taken in terms of pure visuals, it is.  The artwork by Annie Wu is amazing and the strongest aspect of the series. The action of the issue flows smoothly throughout and the color art by Lee Loughridge is as vivid and wild as a punk rock guitar solo.

The effect is not unlike the band battles in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, save that we don't get any lyrics for the songs here. And I find myself wondering if the lyrics were left out so as the reader could imagine Black Canary's sound for themselves?  Or if writer Brenden Fletcher just didn't bother to write them?  This is just one aspect of the script that seem incomplete and I fear it's because this may be because it's easier to pass a lack of explanation off as mystery than to write a proper plotline.

For instance, I originally thought Fletcher avoided discussing Dinah's past with the Birds of Prey and Team 7 in the early issues of this series to make it more accessible to new readers. Now that the series has referenced that past without answering various questions about it, I wonder if Fletcher just wanted to milk the mystery out long enough to decompress the story to trade-paperback length. The end of the issue suggests some answers may be forthcoming but at this point I'm skeptical of a satisfying resolution.

Ironically, for all my complaints about the series not telling us enough about what is going on in its world and backstory, the book simultaneously violates the "show, don't tell" rule.  We're told that Dinah loves her band-mates but there's little to indicate that.  Dinah is a generic strong female protagonist, who doesn't display any emotions beyond anger.

The supporting cast is even worse in this regard. I can't even remember any of character traits or names apart from Ditto, and Ditto is a MacGuffin rather than a character!  Come to think of it, there's no real definition to any of these people apart from Bo, whose character can be summed up as "jealous diva".

That's my problem with Black Canary in a nutshell. It's got visual style but there's no substance to the writing or characters.  And the only reason I'm picking up the next issue is the hope that there will finally be some kind of resolution to this drawn-out opening arc.

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