Black Canary: Ignite – Meg Cabot, Writer; Cara McGee, Artist; Caitlin Quirk, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Ray: The DC Zoom and DC Ink lines have been reinventing popular DC heroes and heroines as teenagers since the onset, and while Ink has usually plunged those heroes into thorny real-world situations, the Zoom line has a lighter touch – taking the everyday stresses of middle school and fusing them with a journey of superhero self-discovery.
I don’t know if there’s a better character for this kind of treatment than Black Canary, because this stand-alone OGN may be truer to the character’s original incarnation than most comic books in recent years. Dinah Lance is one of the heroes most altered by the New 52, as it erased the fact that she was one of the first DC legacy heroes. Her storyarc of taking over for her mother and joining the Justice League was one of the DCU’s earliest compelling storyarcs.
The character is one of the big selling points here, but the top one is probably on the cover – experienced young adult author Meg Cabot, one of the biggest names in fiction and the woman behind the extended Princess Diaries series. Making her comic book debut on this OGN, she’s possibly the biggest get the line has had so far and I expect this book to be a superstar seller for DC.
She’s joined by manga-style artist Cara McGee, who brings a great sense of energy to the story and has some of the most amusing facial expressions I’ve seen in a comic in a while. This is a perfect fusion of an old-school talent in Cabot and an up-and-coming phenom in McGee, and I could see this book pulling in fans from across several generations. (Note: My fellow DC reviewer, Corrina Lawson, has an interview with Cabot and McGee about Black Canary: Ignite over at GeekMom.)
The story picks up with thirteen-year-old Dinah Lance dealing with the everyday dramas of Middle School. She wants to follow in her dad’s footsteps as a police officer, but her blustery mustached dad doesn’t want his little girl in danger. (I don’t know anything about Dinah’s dad in the comics, but this felt a lot like Commissioner Gordon with another teen vigilante).
She’s in a band with her two best friends with a big show coming up, and her florist mother seems to be keeping secrets from her. Complicating things, whenever she gets upset or angry her voice seems to get extra-loud and break things around her. The priggish principal is convinced she has some sort of special ability and makes clear she’s targeting Dinah, but Dinah is more concerned about the school bully who keeps hassling her.
As the story goes on, Dinah gets a better picture of her abilities and her legacy, and the story presents her superhero coming of age not quite as a grand adventure but as another challenging point on her schedule as she tries to juggle everything in her life. She begins training with her gym coach – who has his own ties to DC history and may know more about Dinah’s mother than he lets on – and her friendships become strained as her band time becomes more limited.
The stakes are raised by the return of one of the original Black Canary’s old villains, Bonfire – who has a distinctly non-all-ages plan for Dinah and her family and has been stalking them for a very long time. When the story shifts into action mode, it almost feels a little out of step with the rest of the book. Playtime is over and the stakes are very real.
Black Canary: Ignite isn’t a perfect comic, but its biggest flaw is that its 140-page length can’t quite do justice to every element of this packed comic. Much like Superman Smashes the Klan, this is a book that I think would have easily worked at double the length to let segments like Dinah’s training and the final battle breathe. But I’m hoping it’s just volume one in a new series, and this book is full of fun easter eggs to DC history. There’s even a reference to Super Hero High from DC Superhero Girls worked in.
This is a book for kids getting into superheroes for the first time, but its’ story has enough nuance and a character-driven focus to be a great read for anyone. It’s another win for a line that’s quickly transforming the DC lineup for the better.
To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.