The world of comics is still, much to the chagrin of many female fans, largely a man’s game. A few more releases like Zatanna and Black Canary Bloodspell, and that may not be the case for long! Please don’t take that to mean that I’m insinuating this is just a graphic novel for girls. Yes, it focuses on two female protagonists and alludes to more than a few ‘girls’ night out’ clichés. But this is a crime story with a blossoming friendship at its core, and it’s suitable for comic book fans of any sex.
That’s a refreshing change of pace for a superhero story, which are so often all about saving the day – Batman and Superman don’t usually get the chance to grab a beer and talk trash about each other’s football teams. Focusing on characters rather than story, although there is a decent story here too, necessitates smart writing. Fortunately, the writing in Black Canary & Zatanna: Bloodspell is smart as a whip. Fair warning: Bloodspell is actually pretty funny, but a lot of the humour relies on sexual innuendo. See below for an example…
That’s probably not a deal-breaker, but scenes like Black Canary shattering a vase with her Canary call mid-intercourse make it unsuitable for youngsters!
I’ve seen the art criticised elsewhere for looking like Archer but, personally, I like it…barring a couple of weird ‘up nose’ shots that make Black Canary look like a pig. I also enjoyed the Las Vegas backdrop – I’m always surprised that more comic books don’t take advantage of Sin City’s glitzy neon backdrop (only Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas springs to mind), as it lends itself very well to the medium.
The story is solid, if not mind-blowing, and Dini avoids the temptation to bring in more well known characters (although Wonder Woman and Green Lantern have very minor cameos) to bolster the action. Green Arrow does appear too but he’s cast very much in a sidekick role, which is a neat reversal of how it feels in a lot of Green Arrow/Black Canary stories.
If Black Canary/Zatanna is a favourite character of yours, this is definitely a must buy. If, on the other hand, you don’t know much about them this is a pretty great introduction to the characters and their (albeit pre-New 52) backstory. Plus, when else are you going to come across a graphic novel branded with a fishnet design?!
Zatanna & Black Canary Bloodspell Review: 8/10
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