Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Black Canary #6 Review and *SPOILERS*

Written By: Brenden Fletcher
Art By: Annie Wu, Lee Loughridge
Letters By: Steve Wands
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: December 30, 2015

Industry Rule #4080

*Non-Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*

This is it folks! The music event of the century! Burnside hometown sensations Black Canary (the band, not the character) and Bo M (the band, not the euphemism for poop) face off in an axe-grinding battle to determine which is the least inferior representation of punk rock in the series. I mean, here’s the inherent problem with depicting the life and times of a touring rock band in a comic book: you don’t hear comic books. You read them. While the magic of our imaginations allows us to hear whatever music we like while reading, it’s never been clear to me whether Black Canary sounds like Siouxsie and the Banshees or Ace of Base. Maybe the music doesn’t matter, baby, as long as the comic swings—so does the latest issue of Black Canary (the comic book, not the rare bird) swing? Read on to find out!

Explain It!:

Last issue left Dinah “D.D.” Lance and the attending audience members reeling as her musical nemesis Bo Maeve revealed her ability to use the Canary Cry after hijacking an impromptu Battle of the Bands. We, the readers, weren’t left reeling, because we’d already seen her getting the necessary throat surgery in the previous issue. Super-spy and ex-husband Kurt Lance figures out what we largely knew: Amanda Waller has employed Bo Maeve’s band, Bo M, to capture the weirdly-powered guitarist for Black Canary, Ditto. Or maybe to distract Black Canary so Ditto can be captured. Whatever the case, clearly the secret organization A.R.G.U.S. is hot on their tails, so they decide to scram before shock troops or whatever descend on the venue. But first: Ditto has written some weird graffiti on a mirror!

It’s a sound wave that, when scanned and played with some smart phone doohickey, ends up being an audio sample of Dinah’s on-stage patter from the tour. This is a pretty interesting if convenient trick of Ditto’s, one that might allow us to finally hear Ditto’s side of the story, if Heathcliff didn’t bust into the green room and announce that the band is expected on stage to duel with Bo M—simultaneously! Is this something any music fan would want to see or hear? Two rock bands, performing at the same time, through the same sound system? This would sound like the most cacophony! Though this is how they used to have DJ battles back in the 1970s, and whoever had the most robust sound system would win the battle. The concept in this comic book, however, lacks that sort of dynamic.

What is dynamic right here is Annie Wu’s art and Lee Loughridge’s colors. Two bands on the same stage performing at the same time might be a stupid idea, but Wu is able to render it using a simple red and blue palette that is really creative. Naturally, both bands duke it out as they wage their sonic war, and it turns out each of the members of Bo M have their own powers and tricks but D.D. kicks their butts anyway with some assist from her band mates. The whole show devolves into a one-on-one face off between D.D. and Bo M, both shouting their Canary Cries at each other, which really is something you’d see in a Steve Ditko-era Dr. Strange book: two characters pitting invisible forces against each other. Wu represents this as ever-converging sonic bubbles, which is not really how sound works, and Ditto is caught in the crossfire of this assult! Kurt Lance jumps over to Ditto to save her, and both are disintegrated into a puddle of goop for some reason—though later, when the club has cleared out, the goop does show some movement.

Everyone hightails it out of the venue and waiting for Black Canary is a limousine with executives from their record label, A&B Records, ready to whisk them away to their offices and provide some much-needed answers. Black Canary threatens them for fun, and when they get into the office they bust into the CEO’s office to find the person responsible for all of this weird mayhem—and it’s Kurt Lance, but somehow old and gray-haired! And who orchestrated this whole cockamamie adventure? None other than Ditto! Huh?

There is a lot to like in this book, namely the art, and a lot to dislike about this book, mainly the all-too-convenient plot devices masquerading as story that are shoved into a few pages before and after the great battle between Black Canary and Bo M. The ability of Ditto to communicate through written sound waves is somewhat intriguing but comes to absolutely nothing in this story and slows things down just as the tension is mounting. Also the idea of two Canary Cries expanding like two force fields from their criers is, in a word, dumb. But Annie Wu and Lee Loughridge did a great job depicting this claptrap as something visually entertaining—at times even arresting—and despite my whining about not knowing what music I’m expected to hear while reading this book, I did really enjoy looking at the pages that were supposed to depict said music and action. I think this issue provides enough back story that someone could jump on here and be as lost as the rest of us who have been reading all along, but I’m not sure I would recommend that you bother. So far, I’ve found most of this series to be pretty flat. Get it? Flat. That’s a musical term, right?

Bits and Pieces
Poor pacing and lame plot contrivances make this story somewhat of a dud, but the artwork by Annie Wu and Lee Loughridge is really creative and should be celebrated. Though I don’t hear any music while reading this book, some of these panels surely did sing. There is a big reveal at the end, which only opens another host of questions, and the way the series has been unfolding thus far I don’t know if I care to know the answers. If you can flip through this book at your local comic shop without getting your knuckles rapped by the owner, I’d say it’s worth that much of a peek.

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  1. I took a chance on this series and gave it the 6 issues. Now that it's over, it's time to move on to other things. This series hasn't really grabbed me.

    1. I'm with sucks because you waited so long for this issue only to be let down. The delay really threw me off and because it's been more "style over substance", I ended up not really caring even before this issue and gave it to Reggie to read because he liked it enough...but it looks like we are all in the same boat now.


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