“Black Canary” #3 gives Brenden Fletcher, Annie Wu and Lee Loughridge a chance to draw some parallels between a band touring and a team of heroes fending off attackers. It’s the dumps of exposition, though, that feel like the book’s slowing down a bit as it tries to appeal to a wider audience.
In the first half of the issue, Fletcher, Wu and Loughridge shift back and forth, intersecting the band’s fight with their stage performance. Pages are often split in half, with Loughridge using a deep ocean shade of blue for concert panels and desert yellow for the fight scenes. In many ways, this is the best part of the comic. I love to see Wu draw Dinah jumping up with a high kick while singing at the concert, with the next panel showing one of the motorcycle foes staggering back during the chase. It’s the level of quality that goes into this back-and-forth that makes it work so well; Fletcher, Wu and Loughridge clearly thought this through very carefully, like the scene where Dinah crowdsurfs after a stage dive, which is sharp in part because it replaces Dinah’s leap off of the top of the van and successful return on one of the motorcycles that was piloted alongside of her tour bus. This is high-energy and runs quite smoothly.
On the other hand, the parts where we learn a little bit more about why everyone is after Ditto more or less grinds the comic to a halt. To be fair, it’s a somewhat thankless position that Fletcher is in, trying to both appeal to new readers as well as older ones, and he juggles Dinah’s past alongside her present. Honestly, I’d have been fine if we never saw her ex-husband or a mention of Team 7 again, but there are probably just as many readers who are looking for those in order to stick around. In trying to please everyone, though, it’s hard to wonder if both sides will end up a little frustrated as everything stops to dish out information.
I’m more than willing to accept the slow-down in this issue so long as things pick back up next month. As inventive and fun as the exposition heavy two-page spread from “Burnside Tofu” is, this additional background is a tiny bit unfortunate in that it happens in an issue that already feels slower than normal. There’s more than enough potential to come back next month, though, and — with a good cliffhanger to lead into “Black Canary” #4 — it provides that lure. Ultimately, it’s not bad, but it’s a bit of a letdown after two much stronger issues.