Black Canary has a long history in the DCU. As Dinah Lance, she was married to Green Arrow and as Dinah Drake she was (or is) married to Kurt Lance. She’s a martial arts expert. She founded the all-female vigilante team the Birds of Prey. Most recently, she was Batgirl’s ally in Burnside. The list goes on. But the great thing about Black Canary #1 is that you don’t need to know any of that.
Dinah Drake–or D.D. as her bandmates call her–is supposed to be a little mysterious and you get the sense that if any of that past history becomes important, they’ll let you know. Right now, she’s a former accidental vigilante who only plans to be lead singer of the band Black Canary until she has enough money to rebuild her dojo—if she can stop ending every gig in a fist fight first. As a result, Black Canary is somewhere in between a superhero comic and Phonogram. It’s also f–king awesome.
A lot of that is thanks to the look. Annie Wu, in her first monthly comic (great as her work on the LA Woman arc of Hawkeye was, she wasn’t the headliner), gives every panel an incredible sense of energy. The thick, rough, black lines and constantly varying panel size propel the action forward with a rhythm closer to jazz than rock ‘n’ roll. Colorist Lee Loughridge deserves just as much credit for the book’s sense of style. His bright, solid colors recall gig posters and give the whole comic a sort of loud, underground, transgressive feel that fits Black Canary’s reputation as “The Most Dangerous Band in America.” It would be worth buying for the artwork alone.
Luckily, the story is just as engaging. Brenden Fletcher (Batgirl, Gotham Academy) spends most of the issue letting us believe that Dinah’s past is the source of the band’s trouble only to reveal that her bandmates aren’t just backup. While beleaguered band manager Heathcliff and drummer Lord Byron (who looks like a mix of David Bowie and Grace Jones) seem like real, good people for Dinah to be around, the silent, young guitarist Ditto is the most intriguing. Not to spoil anything, but just because she owns a cat onesie doesn’t mean she doesn’t have secrets. The only weak link is keyboardist Paloma Terrific, whose only defining trait seems to be disliking D.D. for some reason that will probably be explained later. But this is a first issue. In-depth character work can come later. As a set-up, an opening number if you will, Black Canary #1 is just about flawless.