Thursday, April 14, 2016

Black Canary #10 - A Review

The only kind thing I have to say about Black Canary #10 is that it gives a shout-out to John Constantine's old band - Mucous Membrane - in the form of Dinah's T-shirt. That momentary sight-gag allowed me to momentarily think of better comics than this one. It proved a welcome relief, given that I am hard pressed to think of any other thing this comic managed to do right.

Brenden Fletcher continues to "tell, don't show" with every bit of dialogue he writes. Over half of this issue is devoted to scenes of Black Canary and Batgirl telling each other things they already know or recalling conversations that took place off-panel during the action of previous issues. The vexing thing is that these conversations could have taken place on-panel if Fletcher had been buggered at any point in the previous eight issues to have written a straight-forward conversation regarding what the heck is going on!

And just what the heck is going on, you ask?

In brief, Black Canary is trying to find out the truth about her past and Batgirl is helping her. They get attacked by the same group of ninjas that abducted Black Canary a few issues ago, only now to learn that said ninjas want the knowledge of some secret technique that they think Dinah knows.

Why they didn't ask her for this information when they were forcing her to fight in their arena two issues ago is not explained. Nor is it explained why Dinah - who we're told thinks of her band-mates as a second family - hasn't bothered to make contact with her band-mates ever since escaping from an evil ninja clan's Arena of Death.

Of course I'm still waiting for an explanation as to why an ex-secret agent/vigilante trying who is wanted by the government and is trying to lay low would ever agree to become lead singer of a punk band with a major record label that uses her code name as the band name. I doubt we're over going to get an explanation for that one. The damnable thing is that Fletcher himself inadvertently points out the stupidity of it all, with the thugs that Dinah is beating up at one point recognizing her from the band!

The artwork is similarly troubled. Moritat seems to be trying (and failing) to emulate Annie Wu once again, with unusually forced poses such as Batgirl singing into a hair-brush despite not singing in the dialogue. Sandy Jarrell's pencils are better, but still uncharacteristically sloppy. Even the usually excellent Lee Loughridge seems off-form this month, with Babs and Dinah's coloration being mixed up in one panel (thanks to Jeremy Williams for pointing that one out to me) and the color art only serving to highlight rather than disguise how rushed the pencils and inks are.

The heck of it is I can't even blame the creative team for how thrown-together this issue feels. Given the approach of DC Rebirth and this issue's revelation that Dinah's parents were a private eye and a florist, coupled with the suggestion that Dinah was given implanted memories (exactly like what's going on in Batgirl right now), it seems likely that Fletcher was put over a barrel and forced to turn his Black Canary into the classic Black Canary and reestablish all the backstory that got thrown out the window five years ago.

In that respect, I wish I could be happy. But given that Dinah's apparent destiny is to be Green Arrow's muse, I can't. Problematic and contradictory as this book has been, it at least let Dinah be her own character.

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