Review: BLACK CANARY #1

Black Canary #1 opens in a very stylish way – a magazine article describing the adventures of Dinah Drake, known here only as D.D., and her band, The Black Canary. The issue then segues into a concert as Dinah prepares to take the stage. Energetic, Dinah rocks it for her fans, that is until some guys begin harassing her female audience members. Dinah jumps into the crowd and gives them the butt-kicking they deserve, but this only causes trouble for the band as the venue owner tries to skate out of paying them.

In what has become a disturbing pattern, all of The Black Canary’s concerts have ended in violence, and the band members try to get more info out of D.D. as to just who she is. She remains tight-lipped, but when supernatural entities go after one of her bandmates, Dinah takes it on herself to protect them and train them.


Black Canary 1 002THE POSITIVE

Black Canary #1 gets so much right, it’s hard to keep track of. The first thing that will catch readers eyes is the artwork. There’s a punk-rock aesthetic that carries throughout the issue. It starts with Annie Wu’s linework. Wu’s lines have a free-wheeling sketch-like quality to them, but in truth they are incredibly refined. This is most easily viewed in the range of emotions displayed in the characters. Dinah, as the lead, goes through a great transformation in taking the stage. From behind the scenes, she seems to have an expression of weariness – this is not something she wants to do. But when she takes the stage, she comes alive, and readers can feel her energy as  if they were actually listening to the concert.

Lee Loughridge’s colors help to emphasize this transformation. Throughout Black Canary #1, Loughridge uses a palette of primarily cool blues and purples, creating a dingy atmosphere. But Loughridge brilliantly contrasts this with brighter yellows and oranges, as well as a couple of neon flourishes to emphasize key plot points.

Brenden Fletcher’s script is equally fantastic. The travelling band aspect to the story gives a perfect reason to keep scenes moving; this comic never feels stuck in one place. Fletcher wisely provides information as readers need it. There are no pages of exposition introducing readers to Dinah’s bandmates. Readers meet the members of the Black Canary Band through their actions. The rock-and-roll premise also gives new reasoning for Black Canary’s costume. A leather jacket and fishnets might not make the most sense for a vigilante, but it’s perfect for the lead singer in a four-man band. Annie Wu’s artwork helps here as well. While Dinah oozes cool and has sex appeal, she’s never treated like an object for the fans to ogle her. Dinah is a butt-kicking rock star and Black Canary #1 makes sure readers believe it.

Rounding out the creative team is letterer Steve Wands. Most readers don’t notice lettering, but Wands is doing something brilliant in Black Canary #1. The use of a typewriter font and slanted caption boxes gives the whole issue a rock magazine type feel that encapsulates the mood the book is going for. It’s a great sign for Black Canary that the entire creative team is so in touch with what the book needs to be.

THE NEGATIVE

There isn’t much negative criticism that can be lobbied at Black Canary #1. One could argue that readers aren’t fully introduced to Dinah’s bandmates, but there’s enough information to get a grasp on them, and the series will likely build on them in future issues.

Black Canary 1 003

THE VERDICT

With a solid premise, a great script, and beautifully fitting artwork, Black Canary #1 is a fantastic debut that shows how diverse stories in the superhero genre can be. Brenden Fletcher, Annie Wu, Lee Loughridge, and Steve Wands are a creative team with all the synergy of a four-man band and it shows in the book’s quality. Dinah Drake is back with attitude, and Black Canary #1 is the debut that both long-time fans and new readers have been waiting for.

5outof5

Robert Reed

Robert Reed

I am from Omaha, NE, USA and an alumni of the University of Nebraska. My first experience with comics was a little tome called Age of Reptiles by Ricardo Delgado, which brought me from my love of dinosaurs to my love for graphic storytelling.
  • Matthew B. Lloyd

    This concept seems about as far removed from Black Canary as I could possibly imagine. It really says, “Dude, you are an old man,” to me. I just don’t get it. Batgirl is the same way. Don’t get it. Really wish the BC solo series had a different direction, one I was actually interested or seemed somewhat remotely related to the character.

    • I understand where you’re coming from. I do think this series was targeted at newer and/or younger readers who aren’t as familiar with the character. Thanks for reading the review.