Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Black Canary #7 Review and *SPOILERS*

For Those About to Infodump, We Salute You

Written By: Brenden Fletcher
Art By: Annie Wu, Lee Loughridge
Letters By: Steve Wands
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: January 27, 2016

*Non-Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*

We return to the inaudible sonic blast known as Black Canary, a comic book containing some of the best visual representations of sound anywhere. It’s been a fun ride, but at seven issues in we don’t know a whole lot more than we did at the outset. Perhaps this issue will turn that trend around? Perhaps we will finally get some answers as to what Ditto is about, and why Kurt Lance has been farting around, and what the hell was the deal with that dimension-warping song that Dinah and Bo Maeve sang in tandem? Perhaps I am asking a bunch of questions that will be answered in my review of the issue? Perhaps you should read on!

Explain It!:

I used to love watching Charlie Chan movies, back when late-night television was reserved for the “smokers and tokers” demographic. I saw them as sort of a silly anachronistic kick, some throwback racism and contrived mysteries that would always be solved by a last-minute accusation from Chan which led to the guilty party’s complete confession. I loved Charlie Chan movies because they were so delightfully stupid on multiple levels. Surely, a good mystery doesn’t involve someone just rattling off the entire plot’s synopsis in one scene chock full of chattering, right?

Well, Brenden Fletcher doesn’t seem to think so, because to begin this issue we have nearly all of our questions answered by a suddenly aged Kurt Lance, who turned out to be the hidden record label owner behind all the mishegoss that Black Canary—the band—has been dealing with. So let’s see what we learn in this scene:
  • Ditto is an alien that is the physical embodiment of sound.
  • When Dinah and Bo Maeve sang simultaneously, this disrupted Ditto and caused she and Kurt to fall outside of time and space.
  • They returned to our dimension at a slightly different point, and in the duration, Kurt got old.
  • Ditto’s people don’t like her because they can’t turn sound into physical objects, which frankly I don’t recall Ditto being able to do either but I’ll accept it.
  • Ditto’s people want to kill her using a giant monster called the Quietus that eats sound like Eric eats Taquitos from 7-11.
  • Dinah trained her entire life with an assassin, and the Black Ops team she was on gave her the Canary Cry.

I mean, I didn’t even know I was lacking that last bit of information until she said it. Trained with an assassin? She was a member of a Black Ops team? Why are we just learning about this now? This is all told during a helicopter ride from Kurt’s skyscraper to Gotham Stadium, which has been outfitted with the best and loudest sound system around. The idea is Black Canary will play some hits that will draw Quietus, and then they will defeat it because good always wins? It’s not really clear what Kurt expects to happen once Quietus crosses the threshold. Bo Maeve shows up and is part of the plan somehow—hopefully Dinah and Bo’s combined cry can send the big silence monster to Time Out, but it really seems like a “cross your fingers and believe really hard” sort of situation here.

Just before the band can launch into their set list, Amanda Waller comes cruising in on a hovering disc straight from the Galactic Senate in the Phantom Menace to tell them that the neighbors have been complaining and she’s come to collect Ditto. Now here’s a weird scene: Kurt Lance tells Waller that she needs to let the band rock out to defeat Quietus, and she just acquiesces. Isn’t she supposed to be one of the biggest ball-breakers in the DCU? At the very least, Amanda Waller usually needs to be tricked into thinking something is her idea before she goes along with it. Anyway, Black Canary—the band—starts rocking with a fair degree of rolling, and that’s when this book makes a complete U-turn.

I’ve mentioned before that making a comic book about a rock band is a fool’s errand, due to the inherent silence of reading comics. Yes, we can muster voices and some sound effects in our heads, but music is something a little more difficult to mentally render. It’s not an impossibility, however, because Annie Wu and Lee Loughridge do an absolutely incredible job with this half of the book. They start directing their music towards Quietus—Amanda Waller briefly becomes a studio engineer for some reason—and the big sonic sponge sops it all up like Thanksgiving gravy. As it eats everyone’s sound, Wu uses the “mute” symbol that is prevalent on web browsers and practically any music-playing device these days. Dinah then leaps into action and starts kicking Quietus’ butt—strange, since I didn’t feel it had a corporeal form by the way it was drawn—in an absolutely awesome panel that looks like a silhouette of D.D. beating down a silhouette of the giant monster along a page of sheet music. Oh, it is so awesome, I want to show it to you guys so badly…I shouldn’t show it, though, it wouldn’t be fair to the creators and this is definitely something worth seeing you guys. Should I show it? I should just show it, right? It’s such a great panel you guys, I really think I should just show it.

I’m not gonna show it.
Dinah makes some headway but Quietus is fighting back with gusto, then some ninja shows up and starts chucking cymbals into the creature’s body? Uh, okay…then the band chucks cymbals into the monster’s body and they all start beating on them, which discombobulates Quietus. Dinah and Bo Maeve clasp hands and team up for one final big Canary Cry that I swear is just like the final scene from the awesome animated movie Rock N’ Rule. Here, check it out:

This sends Quietus off to who-the-fuck-knows-where and the day is saved. Waller still wants Ditto’s sweet, sweet DNA, so Kurt informs her that after having traveled through the fourth dimension with Ditto, he now has her DNA. This sits okay with Waller, who must have taken her gullible pills before this issue started. In all the ruckus, though, Dinah seems to have disappeared and wound up in some room with that ninja that saved them!

This issue really seemed like two comic books, with the first half being a blatant and wordy infodump that essentially answered ninety percent of the questions we’ve had since issue number one. The second half was an awesome display of art and creativity that needs to be seen by anyone who, uh, likes to see art and creativity. There’s really nothing wrong with the general conceit of this book, and despite Waller’s characterization being a little wonky the rest of them are pretty consistent and cool. It just seems to be unfolding like a ton of bricks falling from the back of a dumpster, and on that last brick is written the sentence “Ditto is the physical embodiment of sound.” Is that so hard? To write your plots on a brick? Or is that too potential a portent?
"Unforgettable!!! That's what you fucking are!!!"
Bits and Pieces

The first half of the book is given over to many word balloons as we get the infodump to end all infodumps: virtually the entire plot is revealed and most mysteries revealed in about nine pages. I find this annoying because it seems like we spent six issues dicking around for no reason. The second half of this issue is a sonic battle that is rendered so well by Annie Wu that I couldn’t get enough of it. So this issue is a tough one to rate. Overall, despite my snit over getting so much exposition in one spot, at least there’s some payoff and it wraps up to be a pretty entertaining issue. So you could give or take a half a point here, depending on your personal crankiness.


1 comment:

  1. I suspect this comic would work much better as an animated music video