The DC Icons series is a series of young adult novels centering around a specific DC character. They are all standalone novels, in a vein similar to Elseworlds stories, that you can read individually (not having to read one to understand another). As of this post, there are five novels in the DC Icons series: Batman: Nightwalker, Catwoman: Soulstealer, Wonder Woman: Warbringer, Superman: Dawnbreaker, and the topic of this review, Black Canary: Breaking Silence.
I have read Batman: Nightwalker a few years ago and Black Canary: Breaking Silence earlier this year. I plan to eventually get around to reading the other three, only having read the graphic novel version of Wonder Woman: Warbringer. However, today, I would like to discuss Black Canary: Breaking Silence.
I will briefly go over the synopsis of the novel before going into what I liked and disliked the novel and my overall rating.
Black Canary: Breaking Silence was a novel about seventeen year old Dinah Lance. When she was seven she had heard a voice singing one night in an abandoned theater. Women singing had been banned since the Court of Owls took over Gotham. One day, she tries to sneak into the same abandoned theater only to get caught by a Talon. Her father would get her out of any trouble, but she was told not to go back there again.
During the story, Dinah is a budding high school student with a bit of a rebellious streak. She’s tired of the fear and control the Court of Owls and their Talons have brought to Gotham. Dinah wants to do more, but her father, a ranking police officer, is cautiously overprotective of her. Especially since her mother is dead, who we don’t learn about until later in the story.
Dinah’s life starts to change when Oliver Queen moves to Gotham and enrolls in her school. Oliver is not all that he seems, but as we learn throughout the story, neither is Dinah. And it isn’t until she is taken to an event held by the Court, that things begin getting stranger and more dangerous for Dinah.
For Dinah has a gift. One that goes against everything the Court of Owls has been strictly enforcing from the beginning. A gift given by her mother, and gives her a voice. Along the way, Dinah will meet an old friend of her mother (and possibly more based on implication) and what exactly her mother was known for. All of this giving her a new sense of justice and a skill to help her fight against the Court.
The story itself is certainly an interesting one. The Court of Owls taking over Gotham is an angle that we’ve never seen. As someone who enjoys anything Court of Owl related, of course I’d see that as a plus. They brought an interesting fear factor to Gotham. And with no Batman around, they certainly take up residency without him to its fullest.
I did enjoy Dinah in this for the most part and it was wonderful to see Barbara as Oracle, which we haven’t had in a while in comics (she returned to Batgirl in the New 52 and only recently seems to be taking on the role of Oracle as of now). I loved the relationship she and her father had. Even if he was a bit over protective. He, in a way, had a reason, but I wouldn’t disagree that he’s overprotective.
How she got her iconic scream was also done pretty well. Since women can’t sing (pretty literally), something like her Canary Cry wasn’t expected. So when she finally awakens it, it suits the situation.
There are certain characters that are blander than others. Her friends are kind of forgettable and, while he wasn’t terrible, I wasn’t as invested in Oliver. Though he did provide some good development for the story. Some reviewers will say that how they handled the whole women can’t sing and the whole handling of misogyny/sexism could have been handled a bit differently, which I can see. However, I don’t think it was a total failure. But that will depend on the reader.
The biggest complaint I have with Dinah’s character was how emotional she could get at times. I can understand that she is young and the situation is pretty intense, but it felt like she shouldn’t be as emotional in some instances. I’m not saying she can’t be sensitive despite her tough girl persona. The emotional shift simply felt weird at times.
I certainly won’t say that it is a perfect book, but out of the DC Icons stories I’ve read so far, I’d certainly say it was my favorite. The story’s concept was an interesting one and I loved how it was a Dinah Lance story. The cover art is beautiful and it uses the Court of Owls in a pretty interesting way. I’d recommend it for anyone looking for a What-if/Elseworlds young adult story.