The band has just gotten together, and now “Black Canary” #2 finds the group hitting the road, dealing with unruly crowds, bandmate infighting and a team of deadly assassins.
Written by Brenden Fletcher
Illustrated by Annie Wu
In the wake of their first major fight, Dinah has realized that her new bandmates are completely unprepared to keep themselves alive in a scrap so it’s time for a training montage! (Cue the squealing guitars!) Plus: Who is Bo Maeve, and why does she hate Black Canary so much?
Here’s a little tip that I found incredible effective. When reading this issue, play the chase music from Mad Max: Fury Road on repeat. The issue is great on its own, but the combination of fast-paced action and pulsing beats fits perfectly with the tone of the latest “Black Canary” series.
The book picks up after Dinah Lance has temporarily hung up her superhero mask and picked up a microphone to become the hard-rocking Joan Jett of the DC universe. The band is spending their time walking the streets, a loaded six-string on their backs. They’re playing for keeps, because they might not make it back. Dinah is putting her new bandmates through a little bit of weapons training before band practice, just like Bono and the U2 fellas used to do it. Their goal is to protect Ditto, their silent guitar player who can open new worlds with her music but is on the run from mysterious forces.
Brenden Fletcher is really great at establishing great dynamics between unique characters in a fairly short amount of time. Like “Gotham Academy”, Fletcher has taken a familiar story setting, in this case a touring band instead of a boarding school, and used it to flesh out unique feeling characters without throwing the audience quickly into the deep end of the story.
The overall story is still unfolding at a fairly deliberate pace, but Fletcher doesn’t let this issue feel like it drags or just shuffles along at any point. The great thing about making a comic book about a band is that the creative team has license to pay homage to the classic tales of egotistical rock band infighting that we have heard about for years. The band has to deal bitter ex-members, accusations of selling out and the dreaded possibility of creative differences. Bandmates Heathcliff and Paloma don’t come off like typical superhero sidekicks, nor are they forced to act as some kind of audience surrogate in order to throw exposition at. Even though Dinah is still the driving force, the pair are still active participates in the story with their own personalities and quirks.
Annie Wu blends together punk rock imagery and hard-hitting images to create a singular look that has quickly defined the book. Those of us who remember the 80’s and 90’s will feel a pang of nostalgia with the moments of bright mono-chrome colors and high contrast images that harken back to classic punk rock posters. Fans of her work on “Hawkeye” will be happy to see that Wu has managed to maintain a sense of humor in her artwork through her use of images not typically found in superhero comics. For example, a mention of intense hand-to-hand combat training is paired with a technical image of stick figurines going step by step through a fight maneuver that looks like it comes from an Army training manual.
The decision to place the travel band in the American Southwest was a wise one, as Wu gets to subtly invoke classic rock imagery that is familiar to anyone who has seen a Bon Jovi music video. Combined with the weapons training, it casts the group as group of cowboys about to mount their steel horses. She visualizes the tour through the use of Polaroid’s and other pieces of road memorabilia, in a manner that is fun while efficiently moving the story along.
Wu’s team on “Hawkeye” has proven that she is more than capable of penciling action packed hand-to-hand combat scenes. Her stylized images manage to convey the brutal nature of the fights, without feeling to grim or gritty. The way the musical instruments are combined into the fight is a great way to tie the major themes of the book together, while adding a bit of humor.Continued below
One of the most impressive things about the book is the way that it expertly balances its dual premises. Dinah does appear to be committed to the band, while she knows from her experience in this world that superheroes don’t really get to walk away. She is combining her two worlds, trying to please all those around her. Dinah quickly accepts that she can’t just leave the superhero behind, so she is facing the challenge. As told by Fletcher and Wu, this is a very welcome change from typical angsty heroes who constantly lament the struggle to balance conflicting aspects of their lives. Dinah is determined, confident and more than capable of holding her own, which makes “Black Canary” a very enjoyable read.
Final Verdict: 8.5 – Fletcher and Wu have combined to create a uniquely entertaining series, which again proves that DC is capable of producing comics that shake off tropes and give something new to the readers.