Monday, December 28, 2015

Black Canary #5 Review and *SPOILERS*

Written By: Brenden Fletcher
Art By: Pia Guerra, Sandy Jarrell, Lee Loughridge
Letters By: Steve Wands
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: October 21, 2015

The Battle of the Blands

*Non-Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*

Some music is so sublime that you just need to see it performed live in order to believe it exists. Other acts you want to see live because they break their instruments and get naked on stage. Black Canary is a group that occupies part of the middle ground between these two extremes, a record-label created all-female band of talented musicians, one of whom is a telekinetic alien-type kid named Ditto, and another is our hero Dinah “D. D.” Lance, who has the Black Canary cry. Isn’t that a bit like juicing in sports? I mean, you have a super power to emit piercing sonic waves that can topple buildings, seems pretty unfair to the rest of us with stupid old normal voices. Dinah’s nemesis Bo Maeve, who once sung for the band that would be Black Canary, seems to agree with me, that’s why she went and had voicebox surgery at the end of the last issue. And then what happened? Read on to find out!

Explain It!:

Despite the attempted kidnapping of guitarist Ditto by spurned songstress Bo Maeve last issue, rock band Black Canary continues its Tour of Destruction across America unabated. The tour isn’t called Tour of Destruction, incidentally, that just describes what has been happening at every gig when ninjas or shadow monsters try to snatch Ditto away while they are performing. The band and Dinah’s former boyfriend/ currently maybe brainwashed spy, maybe, Kurt discuss as much as they roll along in a van, then set up a campsite, then sit around a fire eating s’mores. For four solid pages. One-fifth of this book is sustained chatter in word balloons, and let me tell you that ain’t rock n’ roll. Canary pieces together clues that imply the label is behind everything that’s happening, which was obvious to any reader who has seen how cagey band manager Heathcliff is all the time. While they sleep, a ninja takes some of Dinah’s blood and takes off after impressing her with some smooth moves.

At a record store signing in Wainfleet, most of the band members’ hometown, Black Canary the band is called out by all the other bands that have been wronged on B.C.’s Tour of Destruction. They tell Dinah that they must battle…in a battle of the bands that has spontaneously replaced that evening’s show. To make things even more ludicrous, Heathcliff tells Dinah that they have to do this battle of the bands as a favor to the promoter, whose venue they trashed last time Black Canary was in town. As contrived and unbelievable as this seems, I kind of like the idea of B.C. facing their opening acts in an evening of performance, has a sort of Scott Pilgrim vibe to it. As we will see, it comes to nothing in this issue.

While hanging out backstage after sound check, we learn that a fifth band has been added to the lineup: Bo M, the new group of former B.C. singer Bo Maeve, whose hometown is also Wainfleet. You will recall that though she failed to kidnap Ditto for that nefarious shadowy organization and/or hellspawn monster aliens last issue, they still did the surgery to give her the Canary Cry. She unleashed said cry on Dinah and the audience, to their shared shock and physical detriment. So I guess we won’t be seeing any of the other bands perform in this battle, considering Bo M went on first for some stupid reason and already wrecked the place. So long, hopes of Scott Pilgrim.

Frankly, I don’t know what to make of this book. I am used to story arcs being padded out for better reading as a trade collection, but now we’ve hit that usual issue five wrap-up and we’re nearly as clueless as we were in issue number one. It makes me wonder if there was ever any plotting to this beyond “Black Canary tours and keeps getting beset by ninjas and monsters.” A lot of the characterizations have become annoying, particularly with Kurt and Dinah, and at this point I just want some answers instead of more circular chit-chat. Pia Guerra does okay on art, but many of the daring choices made in previous issues seem absent here, like things had to be rushed along. Contributing to this theory is the fact that Sandy Jarrell does fill-in on several pages, and does a fairly capable job aping Guerra’s style so there isn’t any confusion brought on by the artwork, but the story itself still spins it wheels and offers very little in the way of satisfaction.

Bits and Pieces:

After four issues of not a lot happening, we get a fifth issue infodump that sounds exactly as entertaining as it reads. The conspiracy against Dinah, and the mystery behind Ditto and those who would kidnap her is detailed through dialogue, but without anything resembling a conclusion. Odd, I would have expected the first arc to conclude with this issue due to the regular practice of writing for trade collections, yet here we are headed into issue six and we still barely know what’s going on. The more important question should be: do we still care?

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