Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Black Canary reboot: Damned if you do ...

Black Canary's new plumageYou know who this is? As far as I can tell it's the new costume for Black Canary, redesigned as part of the much vaunted DC reboot that launches next month.

I stumbled across this by accident a few days ago and thought: hey, if that is Black Canary, DC have done a pretty good job on this particular redesign. I won't pretend I'm a fan of Wonder Woman's new blue longjohns or Superman's jeans, but this one works.

Well, that's what I thought, but apparently I was wrong. I trawled the web today trying to find this particular image to post here. It took me a while and, when I did find it again, I must admit I was surprised to find it was in a forum in which disgruntled fans were nominating it as a contender for the worst of the new costumes in the rebooted DCU!

This really did take me aback. To me, it keeps everything that's iconic about Canary (well, insofar as anything can be "iconic" about a B-list character!) but updates it in a way that's far more ... now.

She still sports a flowing mane of blonde hair, of course; she still wears what appears to be black leather; her 1980s cropped biker jacket has gone but only to be replaced by a more modern jump-suit tunic (reminiscent of those worn by the X-Men in their recent movie incarnations); and, most importantly, she may now be wearing some kind of quilted or reinforced leggings instead of her trademark black fishnets, but the criss-cross patterning very elegantly manages to pay homage to her former leg-wear of choice. How could anyone object to that?

What every smart-dressed Canary is wearing in Smallville these days!I don't often feel sorry for Dan Didio and DC but, on this occasion, I really do feel they've fallen foul of Bart's Law: you're damned if you do, and you're damned if you don't!) After years of being regaled for keeping the character's outfit fetishistic, they've finally changed it only to find that they're just as much under fire as they ever were. No one cares that the new look is both modern and respectful to the character's traditional appearance. The only thing they care about is that it's changed. At all! Fandom, it seems, just isn't happy unless it's having a good moan!

Personally, I think we should all be grateful. This redesign could have been so much worse. Remember this laughably atrocious look they gave her when Black Canary appeared in Smallville? Part Formula 1 driver, part bondage model: now that was a redesign worth complaining about!


  1. I completely agree that the fanboys/girls militantly oppose ANY substantial change, but I have to admit I don't find this redesign particularly appealing. It's just not recognizable - it's not simple and iconic enough. But that's what it has in common with all of the redesigns I've seen - they're all too complicated for no good reason.

    I have to add that in the end, I don't care at all, though. Because I just don't care about DC's characters at the moment. Which is quite sad, because for a decade or so, I was quite immersed in the DCU.

  2. I think not being immersed is probably a healthy way to be! I must admit I don't particularly "care" either. I'd like to say we're probably too old to really care about these things, but I have a sneaking suspicion that those who are up in arms probably ARE our age (or even older!)

    To be honest, I don't think there's anything the mainstream comic titles could do to make me want to buy them (with or without costume changes!) I do buy the occasional TPB if it's garnered enough attention, just so I can have my own view on what all the fuss was about. Other than that, I'm happy to get my superhero fix from the DC and Marvel animated films and series.

  3. Oh, that's a bit surprising! I thought you were reading at least some (mainstream) superhero comics regularly.

    I think whether your reading habits (do or should) change with age is a different discussion entirely. I meant to say that DC comics aren't too attractive right now, and not just because of my particular age. I was let down repeatedly by the DCU books, so I was conditioned not to buy them. But I do enjoy reading some of Marvel's books (whoever's not reading Brubaker's Captain America is missing out, in my opinion).

    As for the age thing: If anything, I'm less concerned about what is "age appropriate" for me right now. Thus, I am probably reading more nerdy stuff than ever before ;-) But I'm reading a lot of diverse stuff, and superheroes aren't what comes naturally to me. A superhero book has to transcend the genre in order to be really interesting for me.

    And on an unrelated note: I just read on the BVC frontpage that Shades "Volume 2 should be available in something just over a month from now" - and that was written in February. Any news on that...?

  4. No, no regulars! When I go into London (which is not that often these days) I make a point of visiting Forbidden Planet and buying a selection of GNs and TPBs: a couple of mainstream superhero titles, a couple of "serious" or "arty" books and at least one collection of Golden or Silver Age stories. I think the last mainstream TPBs I bought were the "Trinity" books by Kurt Busiek. Solid DC JLA stuff but, despite the length, nothing special. At about the same time I bought I Kill Giants and Kiki. But I'm as likely to find fault with those as I am with DC's output. I don't discriminate between superhero stories and other GNs - I'm equally hyper-critical whatever I'm reading!

    And, yeah, Shades Vol 2 is behind schedule. It's silly considering how long the art has been finished, but I'm still having trouble writing an "Afterword" I'm happy with. (You know how I like to agonise over words!) I'd say it should be ready in a couple of months but, of course, I have said that before!

  5. Ah, the bane of the afterword. I usually write ten versions and scrap them all, and just spare readers the agony of an imperfect (and in my case, painfully pretentious) afterword altogether.

    Just make sure there won't be a whole year between vol. 1 and vol. 2, and I'll be good ^_^

    (I know I Kill Giants, but what is Kiki?)

  6. Well, I think I'm beyond my ten versions now. Maybe I should just give up and let you write it! ;-)

    Kiki de Montparnasse (full title) is the biography of Alice Prin, Parisian music hall star and one-time model, mistress and muse of Man Ray and various other artists of the early 20th Century. The artwork is exactly what you'd expect from a slightly pretentious "arty" GN (scratchy B&W inks that make even me think I could do as well!) and the story is ... well, it's interesting from an art history point of view, but it didn't strike me as being especially well written. (Although I assume it was translated from an original French version, so it's possible I'm being a little unfair there!)