Black Canary: Ignite by Meg Cabot and Cara McGee
|Black Canary: Ignite by Meg Cabot and Cara McGee|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A reasonable start – but only a start, mind – for one of the more under-used DC heroines.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 128||Date: October 2019|
|Publisher: DC Comics|
|External links: Author's website|
Meet Dinah Lance. Frustrated that her policeman father will not allow her to try and follow in his footsteps, and seemingly lumbered with being a cheerleader at school, she is desperate to find her voice. But it's actually more a case of her voice finding her, as when she gets frustrated or plain dissed at school her vocal outcry can shatter glass better than any opera singer. You could almost call it a weapon, or a power. But in order for her to call herself a superhero, there has to be a whole path of steps for her to take – one of which will be into her past…
I like Black Canary. As one of the Birds of Paradise heroines from DC lore she stood out for not having a token superpower, but still kind of made some sort of sense, with her ability to use sonic waves as weapons married to unarmed combat skills. She dressed with chutzpah as well, with fishnet tights and a ballsy attitude. To me, even if she has had very little place in the DC cinematic universe so far, she seemed ideal to be visited by the tweenage DC Zoom imprint of book-sized comics for young readers. So why did I feel a little let down?
Well, this is very much an origins story and nothing else, and I've often seen how the best origin stories manage to go further than this – to provide a full opening adventure, and not just set-up. We see her get her powers, and become aware of her legacy and talents, but that's about it. For a first enemy, the baddy here is pathetic. The writing all told was unremarkable, and I had to pinch myself that this was the world-renowned Meg Cabot providing us with this.
But of course there is more to it than Dinah's ability, and her nemesis here. This is a story for pre-adulthood children, and predominantly pre-adulthood girls, about a pre-adulthood hero. And it's not just her abilities she has to explore – this young Dinah bird has to discover her voice in more ways than one, putting her foot down as to her path in life, finding her own individuality alongside her equally unconventionally-dressed girlfriends. So the book is showing us someone finding her way, much more so than showing us someone finding out she can put villains away.
Which is probably for the better, as – to repeat – the writing offers little in the way of really memorable scenes, and the artwork is not entirely distinctive (and not a patch on the more moody, arty designs of the older-but-still-not-adult DC Ink volumes). Now, sometimes I will rate a book not as I fully view it, but more as I see the target audience viewing it – if I am obviously not the intended reader it's not fair to berate an author for that disconnect. Here, however, I haven't – while I will state publicly the girl this is designed for may feel it worth more stars than I do, I still don't think they will come to love it. They will see the book lacking in visual nous, and not really managing to portray the sonic force Dinah produces; and while they will see a very likeable hero in the making, they will also see a real demonstration of the subtitle – this is a flash-bang presentation of a burgeoning character, and not a fully-formed novel.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
Super Sons: The PolarShield Project by Ridley Pearson and Ile Gonzalez was the first DC Zoom title, and at the time of writing will be gaining its first sequel soon. Mera: Tidebreaker by Danielle Paige and Stephen Byrne is from that older DC Ink imprint, but offers little the target readership of this will not connect with.
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