That’s what drew me into the excitement of Black Canary. One of my favorite DC ladies of all time was in a badass band. But not only was she in a band, but she kept her martial arts skills intact while trying to build a new life.
With artists Annie Wu and Pia Guerra, writer Brenden Flectcher and colorist Lee Loughridge, Black Canary absolutely slays everything you ever expected to come from Dinah Lance. The comic centers on our lady Dinah Lance as she tries to ease herself into a situation she’s completely unfamiliar with. She’s joined a band and signed a deal that will allow her to start a new life for herself after the tour and her contract ends. The creative team created a world where Dinah Lance was not only her code name, but the name of her band as well. Adding some new faces and borrowing some from other DC works (there’s some fantastic Gotham Academy and Batgirl nods), they’ve done something new with the powerful weapon that is her voice—music—making it something wonderful and relatable. (As relatable as any superhero can be).
And right from the first issue readers wondered about what kind of music the band would play. What would Dinah’s voice sound like? What would Ditto’s axe sound like? How is Paloma on the boards? What about Lord Byron’s drums?
After some clever marketing there was a feeling in the air that this fictional rock band was about to give its readers some real material. Before the release of Black Canary Vol 1: Kicking and Screaming, DC’s publicist Clark Bull was tweeting up a storm about Black Canary material: giving away the most subtle of hints, releasing mockups of the band poster next to Burnside Pizza boxes, and pictures of the back of a van with the words “new music drops 3/1/16.” It felt almost too good to be true. Was our new favorite band about to release some actual material that we can listen to?
Well, Black Canary released their first EP, and I honestly can’t stop listening to it.
The EP contains three tracks. “Fish Out of Water” is a powerful signature song for Black Canary. “Old World” is a soft but heavy kind of dream pop. These two are original songs by the writer of Black Canary, Brenden Fletcher. Last but not least, “The Man with the X-Ray Eyes,” is a perfect cover of a Bauhaus’ song (listen to the original here). “The Man” immediately hits you with a static shock opening. It doesn’t take long to be drawn in by the stellar voice of Michelle Bensimon of Caveboy (if you haven’t listened to this band, stop everything and check them out now).
The EP mixes genres like dream pop, new wave, goth and shoe gaze, and sounds like you’re about to enter the world of The Most Dangerous Band in the World. With Brenden and Joseph Donovan of Receivers (check him out here) backing Michelle up, it’s a match made in heaven.
When I first heard “Fish Out of Water,” it sent me immediately into Siouxsie and the Banshees state of mind. Michelle’s vocals are almost reminiscent of Siouxsie’s, but she makes Dinah’s voice her own, giving her the power, creativity and uncertainty that Dinah has in Black Canary. Michelle’s voice is something different and it merges wonderfully with what Dinah Lance should sound like. When she sings “Fish Out of Water” and “Old World” you can imagine how much power Dinah gives on stage with Lord Byron, Ditto and Paloma. She’s incredible. Her voice takes you on a journey with Dinah, but the lyrics stand out as well.
Brenden is one of my favorite comic writers. From his work on Gotham Academy, Batgirl and, the soon to be, Pink Ranger series, I can only hope to get to his height of being awesome someday. Brenden not only gives you Dinah’s story in the pages, but he gives you her story through the lyrics as well. “Fish Out of Water” compliments Dinah’s uncomfortable and uneasy presence in the band. Her making the journey into something that she doesn’t know and that she’s never known, but finds out she’s actually VERY good at. “Old World” is very reminiscent of her not being able to get away from the bullshit that comes her way. After Dinah is finished with the band, she plans to make her life anew, but this Black Canary EP proves that you can’t just make the past go away. The lyrics read, “Outside is a common story. Should have known it would come again. Should have known it would always be there. I shouldn’t be surprised at all.” Tell me that doesn’t make you think of Dinah Lance.
“The Man with the X-Ray Eyes” is the most epic cover of the Bauhaus I’ve personally ever heard. When I was younger, Bauhaus, as well as Joy Division, was my go to band. Seeing “The Man with the X-Ray Eyes” on the track listing was very exciting to me. Michelle gives you some of that Peter Murphy flare with a hint of Siouxsie still lurking underneath. The band managed to keep the same tone of coolness from the original song but made it something their own.
This EP is just a sneak peek in seeing what Michelle, Brenden and Joseph have for Black Canary. I didn’t expect for Black Canary to sound like this, but I am more than happy it does. It’s powerful, engaging and immediately draws you in just like the comic. I’m honestly a bit upset there isn’t more to listen to, but I’ll listen to these over and over until I get a full album out of Dinah, Lord Byron, Ditto and Paloma Terrific. Hey, if they let Bo Maeve guest star, I’m all about that too.
For now, we have the EP, which you can listen to and buy it on their bandcamp for $3.50 (definitely worth it). If you haven’t gotten the chance to pick up Black Canary Volume 1: Kicking and Screaming, you still have a chance to catch up with the adventures of this awesome band.
I can’t wait to hear the full album and get some more from them. I’ve said this on my Twitter and I’ll say it again: Why aren’t we letting more comic book bands record music?!