Thursday, June 9, 2016

Black Canary #12 Review and **SPOILERS**

VH1’s Behind the Timestream

Written By: Brenden Fletcher
Art By: Annie Wu & Sandy Jarrell, Lee Loughridge
Letters By: Steve Wands
Cover Price: $2.99
On Sale Date: June 8, 2016


Ladies and gentlemen, we have a rilly big shew for you tonight: the final issue of Black Canary! It’s hasn’t been a very long trip, but we can certainly say it’s been strange. Dinah and the band have fought ninjas, demons, a kaiju monster…then ninjas and demons again, and through it all, we couldn’t hear a note. Do you see the inherent problem with making a comic book about musicians? You have to draw music. This is why the Maniaks never took off…well that, and the comics were terrible. Annie Wu and Lee Loughridge certainly blazed new trails in drawing music, and there were some memorable layouts and panels in the series (until this last arc, frankly speaking.) Well Annie Wu is back for the last performance, but will readers want an encore? How the hell should I know? I’m only one person. You can find out what I think if you read on!

Explain It!

Here is the benchmark for any band’s final performance:

If you can’t outdo that, then don’t even bother. I mean, clearly you will have a final performance, but if you’re not going to inject it with the same emotion, awkward smiles, and closed-eye singing as the final episode of California Dreams, then don’t bother making an event of it. Black Canary, the band, has earned a little recognition, so their final show is quite an event—but not the end of Dinah “D.D.” Lance, who goes on to make more music with her manager/producer, Izak Orato. Wait, didn’t he skewer her with a samurai blade in the last issue? I know what this is: it’s a What If…? issue! Specifically, what if Dinah lost against Izak and her demon aunt Rena, and they turned into the world-annihilating beast Ravedeath? Well, it turns out Dinah would have a bunch of hit songs and continually reinvent herself by way of Madonna. As we go almost twenty years into her future, members of Black Canary seem to shimmer in and out of reality, and Wonder Woman vists her at her recording studio, asking that she come back to the Justice League to fight Ravedeath. Dinah begs off, saying that the music she’s making is important—to her bank account! Heyooo!

Speaking of Ravedeath, it’s really put a number on the world outside of Dinah’s rock star lifestyle. She catches glimpses of it from time to time, but seems to be shielded from most of the carnage, most likely by Izak Orato’s design. In her forties, Dinah is summoned by the Justice League Ladies’ Division (aka the Justice Ladies, you can have that one) consisting of Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and Barbara Gordon to break some bad news: her husband, Oliver Queen, died while on an outer space mission against the unquenchable Ravedeath, now having turned its attention to other planets. Not only is Oliver Dinah’s hubby, but he’s her baby daddy—and Dinah looks minutes away from dropping the load! Sixteen years later, the baby is a teenager and Dinah is very sick. While her daughter tends to Dinah in bed, she changes to Ditto and suddenly it all comes flooding back: the Five Heavens Palm!

Having realized something about her favorite combination platter, Dinah rushes back to the present where she’s got a sword stuck in her midsection, and then uses the Five Heavens Palm to heal herself. Incidentally, I sort of remember her getting stuck in the back last issue, but here the hilt is sticking out of her front…the whole band plus Vixen battles a bunch of German ninjas, and then are confronted by the decidedly demonic-looking duo Izak and Rena, who need desperately to be knit together and become Ravedeath. So Dinah acquiesces and uses the Five Heavens Palm to put them back together—and destroy them forever! Is there anything this Five Heavens Palm doesn’t do? It slices, it dices, it juliennes fries! When Dinah uses the Five Heavens Palm on Ravedeath, you see four versions of her character from various points in the DCU plus her mother in a quilted robe—yeah, Dinah’s mother was involved in this story, too, but I figured it was confusing enough without bringing that in.

After this, it wraps up pretty quickly: Dinah’s ex-husband Kurt has died, and she pays her respects, then plays an actual final performance with Black Canary where she formally hands singing duties over to the original vocalist (and her former antagonist) Bo Maeve. Then Black Canary struts out of the back door, ready for whatever adventures face her in the future, which look to be whatever is happening in the new Green Arrow title. I liked the concept of this issue, and most of its execution was good, but boy have we taken the long way around to get here. There was a whole thing where Dinah was able to summon her mother using the Canary Cry that seemed to come out of nowhere, every issue of this last arc in the series seemed to reveal something I felt I must have missed in the previous issue. As stated in the introduction, there are some memorable panels and layouts from Annie Wu’s time on the title, but most of what’s happened has seemed to have little consequence on the character Black Canary and will probably be ignored…along with nearly every other run on Black Canary.

Bits and Pieces:

This issue's concept was cool and handled fairly well, despite a clunky story about Dinah's mother and some demons that need to form like Voltron. Well, a two-piece Voltron, anyway. Maybe they form more like Firestorm. Annie Wu's return this issue is felt in the creative captioning, expressed as handwritten notes in the header margin, but it doesn't make this superfluous arc seem necessary. Some interesting artistic choices throughout this run will probably never be seen due to its relative banality.

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