Writer: Brendan Fletcher
Artwork: Annie Wu, Lee Loughridge
Release Date: 27th January, 2016
Let’s set the scene, shall we? Dinah Lance – or “D.D.”, as she’s now known – lead singer of the band “Black Canary”, has spent the last six issues utilising her certain set of skills to protect her bandmates from a seemingly endless stream of unpleasantness. Unpleasantness which, it appears, is all centered around her mute guitarist Ditto, who seems to be something of a magnet for trouble, both terrestrial and… well… other.
Featuring razor-sharp banter, a dry sense of humour and a distinctly rock-and-roll sensibility, both in terms of story and artwork, it’s safe to say that Black Canary has absolutely blown me away so far. And now, as we reach the final chapter of the first arc, it’s time to see if the creative team can truly do this story justice.
For me, the fact that the series has had such a leisurely pace to this point without ever feeling slow has been one of its strongest points. In spite of the aliens, ninjas, conspiracies and explosive encores, this has first and foremost been a series about people, and writer Brenden Fletcher has taken his time in gradually immersing us into the lives, quirks and worries of the various members of Black Canary. It’s perhaps a little jarring then that this final issue feels like it’s rushing things somewhat, bombarding us with some pretty ‘out there’ concepts and twisting the story into a worryingly convenient showdown against a just-introduced “big bad” without much in the way of explanation.
These niggles aside, there’s no doubting that Artist Annie Wu continues do her thang here, providing an issue which looks like absolutely nothing else on the shelves right now, “big two” or otherwise. Blending familiar superhero dynamism with reality-melting panel structure and some boundless creativity (seriously, the “sheet music” action sequence may be my favourite page in any comic so far this year), Wu has been given an opportunity to flex her creative muscle to an almost unthinkable degree here, an opportunity she has clearly grasped with both hands and a wild-eyed grin.
As wonderfully distinctive and creative as Wu’s artwork is, perhaps the true hero of this series, for my money at least, is colourist Lee Loughridge, who injects the pages with such a quirky sense of energy courtesy of his rapidly-shifting tones. This is a series with music at its heart, and Loughridge continually brings that music to life in a truly visual, visceral way. Time and time again Fletcher cuts out the dialogue completely and lets Wu and Loughridge carry the story, and in these exchanges, it’s the wildly unpredictable yet strangely precise colours that do the lion’s share of the heavy lifting.
As an entire arc, I’d be hard pushed to give Black Canary less than a 4.5-out-of-5, maybe even a perfect 5, but as a single issue, as gorgeous as it undoubtedly looks, this feels like a slightly rushed and overly-convenient resolution to an utterly gripping series. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a great issue by anyone’s standard, and Fletcher’s slick plotting and dialogue continue to make beautiful music with Wu and Loughridge’s retina-scorching artwork. It just didn’t quite stick the landing like I hoped it would.
Regardless, Black Canary has cemented itself over the last seven issues as one of the brightest, boldest and most original books currently on sale from DC Comics, and with an almost painfully tantalising cliffhanger, there’s absolutely zero doubt that I’ll be picking this one up once the next arc kicks off. I’d strongly advise you to do the same, and if you haven’t got on board yet, make sure to grab the first trade when it hits shelves on March 2nd.