When DC's innovative rock 'n' roll series Black Canary launched in June, writer Brenden Fletcher and artist Annie Wu admitted they were challenging themselves quite a bit by trying to portray sound in a comic book.
But with this week's Black Canary #7, readers found out that not only has the main character's music been important to the story, but the mystery behind the band's guitarist Ditto was specifically linked to the idea of sound. In fact, Ditto is the manifestation of sound itself.
And now that readers have learned the answers to some of the unknown plot points in Black Canary, #8 will begin to explore Dinah's past in the "New 52" — as well as getting some answers about the mysterious white-clad ninja.
And lest anyone think DC's upcoming "Rebirth" event will disrupt comic books like Black Canary, Fletcher indicates that he and Batman Group Editor Mark Doyle have plans for Dinah's solo title that will take it well into 2017.
Newarama talked with Fletcher to find out more about the creative team's approach to visual sound, what this week's issue's revelations about Ditto meant, and what comes next in Black Canary.
Newsarama: Brenden, have you gotten any feedback from fans that gives you an indication of what kind of audience you're reaching?
Brenden Fletcher: I'm not exactly sure who the audience is that's reading it. You can narrow it down and try to talk about a section of it, but I think there are aspects of this comic that appeal to classic Black Canary fans. I'm finding a lot of people who didn't connect to the "New 52" version of Canary when she was introduced and they've found the things Annie and I have been doing — the return of the iconic costume, as an obvious point — they've found them to be more appealing than what was published before.
Now, the version we've done is a continuation of what was introduced in the "New 52," but we're trying to building more of the classic and iconic elements. So I think it brought in old fans as well as appealing to new fans who didn't really know anything about the character before.
So I think the audience is a fun mix.
And a lot of music fans!
Nrama: Yeah, let's talk about that. It's unusual that a book is so dependent on sound — the one thing that's probably the most difficult to convey in a comic book! And we found out in this week's Black Canary #7 that what's behind many of the mysteries in this story is very dependent on sound. How did you and Annie decide to challenge yourself with that one, and can you share anything about how you accomplished it?
Fletcher: It's something we talked about really early on, I think even before Annie had confirmed that she was on the book. It was a point of conversation between editor Chris Conroy, group editor Mark Doyle and myself, trying to figure out how we were going to tackle it in the series, and we didn't come to any firm conclusions.
But when Annie came on the book — after we talked costumes, which was one of the first conversations we had — we got straight into what we were going to do with music on the page, and how we were going to reference that visually.
Of course, because it's a major plot point, we had to come up with some ways of showing sound. And we've got a handful of them, but you can only go so far with it and only get so much of the job done on the page. And there's a comment made there, in the seventh issue, about the silent nature of words and pictures and how we read books and how we sort of create this other element in our head as we read, as the main antagonist robs all the characters of their ability to make sound — they're left with just the pictures on the page.
I hope it works. I think it was a fun experiment. I think it's been a wild ride, and that issue #7 is definitely the craziest issue of a comic that any of us have ever worked on.
Nrama: Yeah, it was pretty wild. Let's talk about some of the things that came up in this issue. Can you explain a little about Ditto, and the revelations about the character in this issue?
Fletcher: Well, Ditto is in fact sound. She is a living wave form. She's like a sentient vibration.
It's what Dinah's voice does, is vibrate particles and move air quickly enough to hit a frequency that we perceive as sound, and a destructive one at that.
Ditto is a sentient version of that.
She is potentially almost a living Canary Cry.
She's more than that. She's the embodiment of what we're trying to represent on the page, and as such, the rules of the physical universe, as we know them, don't exactly apply to her. So in addition to being a fun character to explore, she's also potentially a really useful device in telling superhero stories, because she can manifest all manner of… potentially manifest all manner of superpowers, or travel backward and forward in time.
Not to spoil anything, but she was essentially blown up on stage, and that didn't have the effect it would have on normal matter.
It's a big idea wrapped in a small package that we're going to continue to explore in the next few issues.
Nrama: Right, and the ramifications of what we've seen with Kurt and Ditto and Amanda Waller and, obviously, this huge battle in Black Canary #7 — now that it's somewhat resolved, what does it mean for the comic going forward?
Fletcher: One of the subplots that played lightly through the first seven issues comes to the fore as of #8. So we're finally going to find out, in a very concrete way, who the white-clad ninja is, and how that affects Dinah's life.
So we're going to enter into a new phase of the Black Canary story.
I'll also say that the white ninja provides a lot of information about Dinah's past. And a specific person from Dinah's past, who's very important to her and very important to the Black Canary story.
We'll learn more about her past and where she comes from, and things that she's able to do that she wasn't fully aware that she can do.
Nrama: Do you have a long-term plan for this story? And where Black Canary would go from this point, at the end of the first story arc?
Fletcher: Oh yeah. This has been a conversation that we, as a group, have been having for a long time. We've got exciting plans for Dinah through the next arc and into 2017. We just had a conversation last week — the editors and I — about things that will take Dinah through the rest of the year. It's going to be a lot of fun.