Saturday, 8 March 2014

Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell Review (Paul Dini, Joe Quinones)


Dinah Lance aka Black Canary infiltrates a gang of all-women criminals planning a heist on a casino and gets in a tangle with the leader, Tina Boccali, who’s skilled in both martial arts and black magic. After an aerial fight, Tina dies in an explosion and that seems to be the end of that. A year later, the remaining members of the gang are dying in mysterious circumstances – is the vengeful ghost of Tina Boccali killing them off? This is a job for Black Canary and Zatanna! 

Bloodspell makes a change to a lot of recent DC books as it’s a comic that’s easy-going, humourous, and not afraid to poke fun of its heroines. Dinah and Zee go shopping, Zee turns a couple of guys (who look a lot like Joe Quinones and Paul Dini) into frogs for cat-calling them at the mall, there’s some cute relationship stuff between Dinah and pre-New 52 Ollie Queen (aka Green Arrow), and Dinah and Zee’s first meeting is pretty cool. Tonally it’s very different from the overwhelming rash of “dark and gritty” comics DC are currently publishing which is definitely refreshing to see. 

But, though I liked the tone and hope to see more DC books that aren’t so grim, and there are a few nice moments here and there, it’s not a terribly interesting story. Dinah and Zee track down suspects and quiz them, basically killing time until the whacky fight at the end (I imagined Benny Hill music playing as I read it – it is a very silly sequence!). It’s pretty straightforward, unsurprising stuff that’s unfortunately not very engaging. 

Joe Quinones’ art is fine though I felt his depictions of Zatanna to be a bit inconsistent. Her face seemed to change quite a bit depending on the angle. And, because his style is very cartoony, the more serious scenes where the female criminal characters are in dire circumstances – on the verge of a breakdown, about to commit suicide – didn’t feel as dramatic as they perhaps should. 

Dinah and Zee have great chemistry and Dini writes both characters perfectly, it’s just a shame the main story of the book wasn’t great as well. I usually love Paul Dini’s stuff – he is unquestionably one of the greatest Batman writers ever – but Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell is a very forgettable and uninspired book.

Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell HC

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