Saturday, February 28, 2015

Episode 1: The Origin of Black Canary

Spinning off from Flowers & Fishnets: A Black Canary Blog comes the podcast that celebrates DC Comics' blonde bombshell, Black Canary. This episode, host Ryan Daly recalls how he came to appreciate the popular character. Also, a review of "The Canary is a Bird of Prey", the first printed origin of Black Canary from 1978.

I have already covered this story for the blog. Click here to read my review and follow along with the story!

Flowers & Fishnets is available for download on iTunes by clicking here, or you can check out the show's RSS feed by clicking here.

Music this episode:
"It's a Man's Man's Man's World (Glee Cast Version)"
Performed by Dianna Agron/The Cast of Glee
Columbia Records, 2010.


Check out this episode!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

New Black Canary Series Coming in June

I gave up on DC comics more than a year ago, convinced that no amount of convergences or divergences or creative turnovers or or shameless cries for attention in the form of variant covers and weekly alternate universe experiments could bring me back. My apathy toward DC extended even as far as the older Silver and Bronze Age books I had been covering for this blog. All of my attention had shifted to a handful of Marvel stories and a whole bunch of Star Wars tales that would fuel my new project, the Dead Bothan Spies Podcast.

But it looks like DC has found exactly the right bait to lure me back to the House of... whatever the opposite of ideas is.

Suck it, Ultimate X-Men Dazzler!
That's the first promotional piece--and possibly the first cover for Black Canary #1, the new series premiering in June written by Brenden Fletcher and drawn by Annie Wu.

I admit to knowing next to nothing about this creative team. Fletcher contributed to the sweet Flash story in the sweeter Wednesday Comics, but that was mostly Karl Kerschl's show. More recently, Fletcher has taken over the softly rebooted Batgirl title as well as Gotham Academy, so it sounds like he at least has some experience writing young and fun characters. That should bode well for Black Canary.

As for artist Annie Wu, I'm sure I've seen her work on Marvel's Hawkeye but it never left a distinct impression on me. On the other hand, looking at some sample work from a basic Google search yielded this little gem on the right.

From these two pictures alone you can see what kind of influence youth and music culture has on her work. Neither of those are bad concepts to attach to Black Canary; I have always thought that her day job would make as much sense as a singer or musician as it would a florist. Hell, it falls right in line with her sonic-based superpower.

But honestly, none of that would have mattered. I still probably wouldn't buy this new series if I hadn't seen that promotional image above, because I hated the New 52 Black Canary--hated her! Her origin was stupid. Her costume was stupid. Her stories were stupid. Birds of Prey and Team 7 were awful books, and the people who worked on them were awful writers and editors.

Look at that picture, though. She's got the fishnets that I consider a defining part of the character. She's got the black leather, also essential. She's got the blonde hair, a canary necklace/choker, and she's sporting cleavage, even if it seems to be a see-through part of her shirt. All of that looks amazing. It looks iconic. It looks like Black Canary. I don't know if she's going to be the lead singer in a band or if that's just part of the promo piece to set the tone for the book. I can see either case being true.

Bottom line is, I will definitely be checking out this book when it launches. And you know I'll be reviewing it right here on Flowers & Fishnets. More than that, though, I think it might finally be time to review Dinah's last ongoing series, the twelve issues that ran in 1993. Look for those reviews to start by the end of the month.

See you soon, fellow Canary fans!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Black Canary on CBR's Grumpy Old Fan Blog

What has two thumbs and a name-drop on Comic Book Resources this week?  This guy!

(You can't see it but I'm holding my thumbs up to indicate myself.)

Grumpy Old Fan, a regular columnist over at CBR's Robot 6 blog, posted a well-researched and thoughtful history of Black Canary in DC comics. And he was cool and gracious enough to mention this website in his introduction.

The author's subject is well-timed as the Canary's identity on Arrow is going through a pretty big shift during the third season. What I particularly like, though, is how Grumpy Old Fan (also known as Tom Bondurant) focuses on the various Dinahs and their relationships with other heroes of the DC universe.

"Her history is an excellent example of how a shared-universe environment can give a character the tools she needs to thrive."

Check out the entire article here.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Action Plus: ACTION COMICS #444

In the early 1970s, Green Arrow joined the "Action Plus" feature of Action Comics.  Black Canary made numerous guest appearances in her boyfriend's strip, sometimes in her costumed identity, and sometimes as civilian florist, Dinah Lance.


Action Comics #444 is cover dated February 1975 and hit the shelves on November 28, 1974, according to Mike's Amazing World of DC Comics.  The lead Superman story is written by Cary Bates with art by Curt Swan and Tex Blaisdell and a cover by Nick Cardy.

The ominous-sounding Green Arrow strip called "The Black Canary is Dead" is scripted by Elliot S. Maggin based on a story by Mike Grell who also provided the art.  The story begins with Green Arrow arriving at Star City Police Headquarters where the cops play a recorded message for him.


One of the detectives agrees with Green Arrow that the tape's assertion that Black Canary is dead must be a lie, because it was sent to the cops with evidence--a lock of blonde hair.  But the cops have identified the blonde hair as coming from a wig, which they think proves the Canary must be alive.  Only Ollie knows the truth, that Black Canary is naturally dark-haired and wears a wig in her crime fighting guise.

Green Arrow storms out of the police station and thinks back to a moment in the recent past when he was approached by an elderly Italian immigrant named Mr. Genetta who begged the Emerald Archer to save his grandson Tommy from losing his life to drugs like so many other teenagers these days.  But when Green Arrow visits Tommy, the boy tells him to get lost and boasts about the head of the drug trafficking syndicate, Max Looker, is so successful.

Ollie leaves Tommy, reflecting on his awful track record for not dealing with junkies in a mature, patient manner and thinks back to his ex-sidekick Roy Harper.  His attention is diverted, though, when he sees a well-dressed man getting out of a fancy car in the poorest, most dangerous part of town.  He follows the man down the street to a vacant lot.


Surrounded by street toughs, Green Arrow cuts loose, taking out half a dozen punks in the alley.  In the process, though, he loses track of the man in the suit.

Green Arrow goes to the police and describes the well-dressed man to the police sketch artist.  One of the cops identifies the mystery man as Peter Lazenby, one of the "Four Horsemen" known to control all drug trafficking across the globe.  The cop says they have identified three of the four drug kingpins, and believe the fourth one is Max Lucker, the man name-dropped by Tommy the Junkie.  The cops tell Green Arrow they don't have anything concrete on Lucker, but he runs a casino outside of Star City.

Ollie needs help roping in Lazenby and Lucker, so he goes home and recruits his lover, Dinah Lance.


Green Arrow busts into Max Lucker's office and demands to know if he's responsible for flooding the streets with drugs.  Lucker calls security into his office and Green Arrow disarms them easily.  He fires a couple arrows that pin Lucker to his chair, and as Ollie leaves, Lucker vows vengeance.


Is Black Canary really dead?  You'll have to come back next week to find out... but (spoilers) she totally isn't.

I'm loving Mike Grell's art on these backup strips lately.  It's definitely more of a DC house blend then his later stuff with these characters, so the transition from Dicks Dillin and Giordano isn't so jarring, but he throws in some personal flourishes with the action and the facial expressions.  And his Dinah, even in one panel, looks as sexy as ever.

Come back next Monday for another tale of Green Arrow and Black Canary in Action Comics...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Action Plus: ACTION COMICS #441

In the early 1970s, Green Arrow joined the "Action Plus" feature of Action Comics.  Black Canary made numerous guest appearances in her boyfriend's strip, sometimes in her costumed identity, and sometimes as civilian florist, Dinah Lance.


Action Comics #441 is cover dated November 1974 and hit the shelves on August 29, according to Mike's Amazing World of DC Comics.  The lead Superman story is written by Cary Bates with art by Curt Swan and a cover by Nick Cardy.

The Green Arrow strip called "The Mystery of the Wandering Dog" is written by Elliot S. Maggin with art by Mike Grell.  Like the first chapter in this story that I posted yesterday, I'm such a big fan of this story I'm just going to post the pages below and offer my commentary afterward.







Were you able to solve the mystery before Ollie and Dinah?  The mystery dog was Krypto all along!

I shared my love of dogs and Mike Grell's art in yesterday's post.  Both are just as applicable to this part of the story.  As far as that story goes, it's a little on the thin side considering that two out of the six pages are devoted to recapping what happened in the previous chapter.  It's a little silly that Green Arrow has to free Professor Steelgraves from police custody in order to find out where all his mad-sciency equipment was being stored.  The police ought to be able to get that information themselves.

Regardless, there are two highlights in this story for me.  First, Dinah actually suits up as Black Canary for the first time in a while in these backup strips.  What's more, she looks damn good drawn by Grell until she's made to look old and ugly when Steelgraves uses the aging ray on her and Ollie.  The other standout part of the story is that Krypto saves the day.  I know how destructive dogs can be, so I got a kick out of him ripping the lock off of Dinah's flower shop door, and then smashing into Steelgraves' crazy contraption.

It was cool to see Clark Kent make a cameo in the final panel.  I haven't read the story where Krypto's amnesia is explained or resolved, but I know it all works out.

Come back next Monday for another tale of Green Arrow and Black Canary in Action Comics...

Monday, September 22, 2014

Action Plus: ACTION COMICS #440

In the early 1970s, Green Arrow joined the "Action Plus" feature of Action Comics.  Black Canary made numerous guest appearances in her boyfriend's strip, sometimes in her costumed identity, and sometimes as civilian florist, Dinah Lance.


Action Comics #440 is cover dated October 1974 and hit the shelves on July 30, according to Mike's Amazing World of DC Comics.  The lead Superman story is written by Elliot S. Maggin with art by Curt Swan and a cover by Nick Cardy.

The Green Arrow strip called "Little Dog Lost" is written by Maggin with art by Mike Grell.  I love this story so much that I'm not going to summarize it.  I'm going to post the six pages below and offer my commentary afterward.







I believe this issue marks the first time Mike Grell drew Green Arrow and Black Canary.  He would continue to chronicle their adventures in Action Comics and World's Finest before taking them to unparalleled places (both heights and depths) with The Longbow Hunters and beyond.  At this early point in his career, Grell's work looked pretty similar to the DC House Style that Giordano and Dillin used on earlier Green Arrow and Black Canary stories.  But you can definitely see where Grell provides a flourish with facial expressions and body language in some of the close-ups.

As for the story, it grabbed my heartstrings immediately.  I'm a dog lover.  I have two dogs and I love them more than some of my family members.  I'm Facebook friends with people who run animal rescue shelters, so my wall is filled with heartbreaking videos of dogs being rescued and reunited with returning veterans.  All that is to say when I opened this comic for the first time, I fell in love with Grell's rendering of the mystery dog's curiosity-filled eyes.

The action in this story is terrific.  Maggin does a great job of creating three villains with distinct personalities in such a short amount of time; Professor Steelgraves--why hasn't this guy come back to haunt Star City more often?  Large Maxie--who doesn't love a hired goon who talks in the third person?

As with so many Green Arrow backups in Action Comics, Dinah Lance only appears in her civilian identity, not as Black Canary.  And the most action she gets is hallucinating and judo chopping a dog. That I didn't care for, but the storytellers make it clear she didn't hurt the dog seriously (as if she could), so I kind of let it slide.  I'm not wild about her naming the dog Demian.  Such a weird, unlikely dog name except for a vicious snarling guard dog, perhaps.

Of course, this story is only the first chapter of a two-parter.  Where did this mystery dog come from?  What could explain its unusual abilities?  What will Ollie and Dinah do with the mad science device retrieved from Steelgraves' boat?  These answers and more will be revealed tomorrow when I review Action Comics #441.  See you then!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Birds of Prey #17 (May 2000)

Previously in Birds of Prey...


Birds of Prey #17: "Nuclear Roulette" is written by Chuck Dixon with art by Butch Guice.  His cover, depicting Power Girl desperately catching or stopping a nuclear missile pointed at New York is exciting, but the text on this cover is a little bizarre.  "Where are the Birds of Prey?  Power Girl would like to know."  Um, is that question supposed to be rhetorical?  Because Black Canary and Oracle are all over this issue.  And Power Girl is with them, working alongside Dinah and getting updates from Oracle.  There is some tension between them, yes, but it's not like the Birds have disappeared or like they're not trying to stop the Joker's plan to murder everyone in New York City.

Anyway, the issue opens with Black Canary flying over the ocean looking for the ship carrying a nuclear warhead bound for the Big Apple.  How is Canary flying?  Well, it has a lot to do with Power Girl and her post-Crisis crazy-ass Atlantean origin and powers.


Power Girl and Black Canary find a Liberian ship and Power Girl scans it and knows that this is the ship they're looking for.  She tells Oracle to get off her back, so there is clearly some history between them and PG doesn't care for her.  The blondes drop onto the ship where they immediately come under heavy fire from the crew.

Power Girl is mostly impervious to the bullets so she takes the brunt of the crew's attack while Dinah fights her way to the bridge to interrupt the missile launch.  She arrives too late, though, as the captain presses the button.


Six missiles launch from the ship, one of them slamming into Power Girl who is hovering in the air.  The missile that bumped her careens out of control and detonates in the water.  Oracle screams at Power Girl to get away from the blast sight, but Power Girl tells her it was only a conventional missile, not a neutron bomb.

Black Canary decides to interrogate the ship's captain to see how many, if any, of the missiles are nuclear.


As Power Girl races through the sky to stop the missiles, Oracle updates her that only one of the five remaining is neutron capable.  Then Power Girl shows an embarrassingly poor understanding of rudimentary mathematics, so either she's an idiot or Chuck Dixon is.  But anyway, Power Girl takes out two more of the missiles, neither of them being the nuclear bomb.

Now it's up to Oracle and her back up plans to stop the three remaining missiles.

The second half of the book is some tense Tom Clancy stuff, full of technical jargon pertaining to the Navy and national security (and kind of an awkward slam against President Carter).  I won't go into as much detail because you lose a lot of the suspense, but it's a cool sequence.

Essentially, Oracle contacts Major Van Lewton at the Pentagon and coordinates attacks with the United States Navy along the Atlantic Coast and violates some international laws.  U.S. Warships shoot down two of the three remaining missiles.


For the last missile, Oracle takes control of several satellites and bounces a laser off more than one, doing a "bank shot from pool" in order to blast the last missile before it hits New York.  The day is saved, everyone rejoices even though no one can ever speak a word of what happened hear because they all violated laws and treaties.

Back at the ship, Power Girl talks cryptically about why she doesn't like Oracle.  I have no idea what this tension is about, because PG just worked with Oracle a couple issues ago and they seemed fine.  Also, Power Girl's white and gold costume in this issue is stupid and her Atlantean origin is stupid.

This was a better issue than the last one.  It was nice to see Oracle do her thing and do it well, but Black Canary was shoved to the way background for this chapter.

Come back next week for a review of Birds of Prey #18.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Action Plus: ACTION COMICS #436

In the early 1970s, Green Arrow joined the "Action Plus" feature of Action Comics.  Black Canary made numerous guest appearances in her boyfriend's strip, sometimes in her costumed identity, and sometimes as civilian florist, Dinah Lance.


Action Comics #436 is cover dated June 1974 and hit the shelves on March 28, according to Mike's Amazing World of DC Comics.  The lead Superman story is written by Elliot S. Maggin with art by Curt Swan and Vince Colletta and a cover by Nick Cardy.

The Green Arrow strip called "Young Man with a Drum" is written by Maggin with pencils by Dick Dillin and inks by Tex Blaisdell.  The story opens with Black Canary handing an unsolved mystery off to her boyfriend, Green Arrow.  Two panels on the first page are the only appearance Dinah makes in this story, but oh well...


Green Arrow changes into civilian clothes and, as Oliver Queen, checks out a band called Great Frog that's playing in the park.  Great Frog just arrived in Star City after touring the country, so maybe they're involved in the case.

Unexpectedly, Ollie recognizes his former kid sidekick Roy Harper playing drums for the band.  He hasn't seen Roy since the boy headed out on his own after the historic events of Green Lantern #85 and #86 where Ollie discovered Roy was addicted to heroin.  Now he figures Roy has infiltrated the band as part of an unknown undercover operation, y'know, rather than a teenager just living every kid's fantasy of touring with a rock and roll band.

Ollie then changes back into his Green Arrow duds and snoops around the band's dressing room.  He finds false-bottoms built into the band's instrument cases and stolen cameras and merchandise inside. He theorizes that someone is concealing the stolen goods inside the band's equipment so that Roy and the others are unwittingly transporting the contraband throughout the tour.

I'm not sure why he doesn't suspect the band themselves; I guess he just really trusts Roy, who, as we mentioned earlier, has a drug problem.  Green Arrow assumes Roy knows about the stolen goods and is about ready to close the case.  After the gig, Roy comes back into his dressing room and finds his old mentor there.


Damn, Roy, we all want to smack Green Arrow now and then, but dude!

Archie, the manager who walked in the room, is suitably impressed that Roy seemed able to take out a costumed vigilante with one punch.  He pulls Roy aside and confides in him the secret that the music tour is really a nationwide smuggling and fencing operation.  As they walk out of the room, Roy tosses a small object that lands next to Ollie, who opens his eyes, alert but not ready to give that intelligence away to Archie.

Later, a pair of goons come into the room to dispose of Green Arrow's body, but he springs up and effortlessly takes them out.

Meanwhile, upstairs, Archie takes Roy to see Mr. Aubrey, the man who books the band's cross-country tour and the man who runs the criminal operation.  He tells Roy he could have a bright future in fencing and drug trafficking, which is just want Roy wanted to hear.  At that moment, Green Arrow swings through the window and kicks Aubrey across his desk.  Ollie fires off two arrows that pin Archie to the wall and plug the barrel of his gun.


Aubrey confesses to the whole criminal enterprise and the police take him and his goons away.  Green Arrow chides Roy for the impractical use of the radio transceiver he threw down in the dressing room after pretending to know Arrow unconscious.  Roy tells him he would have had the case solved and the bad guys taken out whether Ollie showed up or not.  Ollie tells him not to be so headstrong and to ask for help once in a while.


Sorry to say, Roy, but I don't think Great Frog has a very bright future.  Also, you must not have been a very good drummer, because Darwyn Cooke pegged you for a bass player on his variant cover for Teen Titans #5 this December.  I mean, you do seem more like a strings guy, right?


We don't get much of Black Canary in this story, but it's still a pretty enjoyable tale, and Maggin makes nice use of continuity by extending the tension between Ollie and his ex-partner.  Green Arrow acts like he wants to it out, like he expects Roy to come back and everything will be the same, which was always Ollie's problem when it came to Roy.  When it came to any of his friends and family, actually.  For all his pretense about social activism and progress, Oliver Queen doesn't handle change to his personal life well at all.

Come back next Monday for another tale of Green Arrow and Black Canary in Action Comics...

Friday, September 12, 2014

Justice League #37 Variant by Darwyn Cooke

In December, a whole lot o' DC comics will ship with covers illustrated by Darwyn Cooke.  By then, Birds of Prey will be long dead and I have no idea if Black Canary is slated to end up in another book because I haven't paid attention to the solicits since, um, April...?

However, Cooke included Black Canary in the background of his cover for Justice League #37.

That's her way back behind Superman and Batman.
I wondered if there was any reason for this specific assemblage of of heroes.  Cooke expertly depicts a nostalgic sense of whimsy in his covers, so it makes sense that he uses the seven original members of the Justice League of America--Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash, Green Lantern, and J'Onn J'Onzz.  But he also includes Cyborg, a founding member of the New 52 Justice League.  But what about Green Arrow and Black Canary?  I can't imagine this is the lineup of the team in issue #37 since J'Onn and Ollie are in Justice League United and for some reason I think Hal Jordan is still off the team playing space cop.

I would be happy if Black Canary joined the main Justice League team.  I think she deserve a shot at it, but it might take a creative team shift to get me interested in reading the comic again.  I like most of what Geoff Johns does, but I don't think he ever had a firm grasp on the League like he did with Green Lantern, the Flash or Justice Society.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Fire & Water Podcast Episode 100: JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #200

Soon to be a direct-to-Netflix series starring
Jason Momoa and Robbie Amell.
My first cousin, Rob Kelly of The Aquaman Shrine, and my best friend, Shag D'Angelo of Firestorm Fan, just celebrated a milestone: the 100th episode of the Fire & Water Podcast.  To commemorate this momentous occasion, Rob and Shag covered the epic Justice League of America #200, where the original seven members of the Justice League battle Black Canary and the newer members before they all join forces and fight the Appellaxian warriors form the League's origin.

As a special treat for their followers, Rob and Shag invited several of their regular listeners--members of the podcast and blogging community--to help them recap the various chapters of the story.

For instance, Diabolu Frank of the Martian Manhunter blog, the Idol-Head of Diabolu, joined Shag in breaking down the J'Onn J'Onzz vs. Firestorm chapter.  After that... well, a whole bunch of people I don't care about talked about other characters.  But all importantly, they asked me to come on and talk about the Batman vs. Green Arrow and Black Canary chapter.

Art by Brian Bolland, the guy who drew the origin of Zatanna backup in 52.
You can listen to the episode by clicking this link here, or check it out on iTunes or the Fire & Water Podcast's website.  If you're only interested in listening to me babble about this chapter, you can skip ahead to roughly one hour and twenty-five minutes into the episode.  However, I recommend the whole show, particularly the introduction read by none other than Gerry Conway, the writer of Justice League of America #200 and the man who wrote Black Canary's first and best origin story in 1978.

As a bonus, take a look at this incredible piece of fan art by one of the podcast's regular listeners, Xum Yukinori.


Check out Fire & Water's 100th episode and read Justice League's 200th issue; they're both fantastic!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Black Canary Cosplay by Holly Brooke

Continuing the theme from yesterday's Dragon Con post comes a handful of wonderful cosplay photos featuring model Holly Brooke as Black Canary.


I found these pictures of Brooke as Black Canary on Monday at the website ComicBookMovie.  All of the photos were taken by Lucky Monkey Photography, and you can see fourteen pictures from this awesome session at their Facebook page.


I encourage you to check out all of Brooke's Black Canary pictures; they're gorgeous!  And I have to say she is one of the best Black Canary cosplay models I have ever seen.  She's got the attitude.  She's got the wide-spaced fishnet stockings.  She's got the blue jacket that looks like a denim style but made of leather or vinyl or something reflective--very cool!

What's more, this particular look for Black Canary comes as a breath of fresh air after seeing so many recent convention photos of the last year with Canary in her Arrow costume.  I get why it's so popular, because it's on TV and it's relatively simple, but I love the classic interpretation with the fishnets and either blue jacket or blue stockings.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Dragon Con 2014 Cosplay Crossover

My best friend, Shag Suarez of Firestorm Fan, recently returned from Dragon Con 2014 with tons of photographic evidence that will eventually be used against him in court.  I have never attended Dragon Con, nor have I seen any pictures of actual dragons there, but what the con definitely has an abundance of is cosplayers.  Dedicated, talented cosplayers.


If you squint, you might find Brother Power the Geek in the above photo!

There were, of course, a handful of Black Canary cosplayers in attendance.  At least one woman wore the classic fishnets, but the new standard for Canary cosplay that I've noticed in photos from every convention is the version worn by Caity Lotz in CW's Arrow.


At least it's a cool, sexy costume.  One of the cosplayers even brought a version of the character's handheld sonic weapon, her own little take on the Canary Cry.


The Arrow Canary might be the new norm in cosplay, but that doesn't mean there aren't adventurous women willing to think outside the box when it comes to dressing like the Blonde Bombshell.  One woman even dressed as the DC Bombshells nightclub singer version of Black Canary.


The photos used in this post were taken by Shag.  You can see dozens more at his Flickr and other pages for Dragon Con 2014.

But hey, this is a DC Blogosphere crossover!  For more iconic DC heroes and villains, check out the veritable Justice League of Bloggers listed below.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Action Plus: ACTION COMICS #434

In the early 1970s, Green Arrow joined the "Action Plus" feature of Action Comics.  Black Canary made numerous guest appearances in her boyfriend's strip, sometimes in her costumed identity, and sometimes as civilian florist, Dinah Lance.


Action Comics #434 is cover dated April 1974 and hit the shelves on January 31, according to Mike's Amazing World of DC Comics.  The lead Superman story is written by Cary Bates with art by Curt Swan and Vince Colletta and a cover by Nick Cardy.

The Green Arrow strip entitled "Zatanna's Double-Identity" is written by Elliot S. Maggin with art by Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin.  The story opens with Green Arrow recounting the most recent frustration in his terribly burdensome life.


Dinah Lance is hella pissed that her Justice League teammate, Zatanna, is locking lips with Oliver Queen, Dinah's boyfriend.  But what pisses her off even more is how Zatanna acts like she is Ollie's lover and Dinah is a total stranger.  Dinah storms off letting Ollie sort out the situation.  Maggin makes a point of referencing Dinah's judo mastery; she leaves to maintain discipline over her mind and body.

Ollie assumes that Zatanna has been the victim of some kind of magic spell that screwed wit her memory and perceptions, but instead of concocting a practical way of solving that problem, he takes Zatanna with him to the public demonstration of a bank's new super security system.

There's some not-too-sublte jab at the anti-Communist witch hunts in Washington, D.C. before a pair of armed robbers bust in and try to rob the place.  Ollie changes into his Green Arrow costume and he and Zatanna spring into action.

Except, as Green Arrow notices, Zatanna isn't fighting the way she normally would.  She's fighting the way Black Canary does!


Zatanna slowly comes to her senses and remembers her own identity and powers.  She changes the robber from a wolf back into his human form.  That's lucky for him, because remaining in animal form for too long could be disastrous and permanent, as Zatanna explained to Black Canary in the Bloodspell graphic novel.

Back at Ollie's office, Zatanna reveals what happened to make her behave so strangely.


Ollie is relieved that Zatanna's attraction to him was all part of an accidental spell, or so he would think.  Zatanna doesn't want Ollie thinking it was entirely an accident and she pulls him in for another kiss before she leaves.

Green Arrow slumps into his chair to dwell on this latest revelation.  That's when Dinah--who had left to calm down, if you remember--comes back dressed as Black Canary and kicks Ollie's door down!


First, how awesome is Nick Cardy's cover to this issue!  Forget Kryptonite, Superman's real weakness is the threat of tooth decay!!!  As for this story, like oh-so many Silver and Bronze Age adventures, it was silly and somewhat nonsensical but so much damn fun.

Zatanna looks great in her classic stage magician costume, so much better than either of the costumes she would wear as a member of the Justice League of America in the late '70s and early '80s.  Dinah, too, looks sexy as always regardless of what outfit and hair she's sporting.  I'm not always a fan of Dick Dillin's work, but I have no real complaints about it in this story.

Even though Dinah is shunted off to the side for this story and only appears as Black Canary after the action is over, she does have an unexpectedly large role in this story.  It's flattering, as a fan of the character and her physical prowess, to see how highly Black Canary's martial arts skills are thought of by Zatanna and Green Arrow.  It's a nice validation of the character who hasn't had much to do in the Action Comics backups so far that Dinah is a master hand-to-hand combatant and that a real super-powered magic user would try to emulate that in battle.

The one lingering question I have, though: Why the hell did Zatanna turn one of the robbers into a wolf?  Wolves can still be freaking dangerous if scared or threatened; why not turn him into a rabbit or a guinea pig?

Come back next Monday for another tale of Green Arrow and Black Canary in Action Comics...

Friday, September 5, 2014

Black Canary in Crisis on Infinite Earths Part 2: JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA ANNUAL #3

Black Canary left the Justice League of America roughly one year before the Crisis on Infinite Earths universe-altering series when Aquaman took over the team and ushered in the era known as Justice League Detroit.  She and Green Arrow teamed up with Green Lanterns John Stewart and Katma Tui at the beginning of the Crisis event before coming back to the JLA for the series' annual in 1985.


Justice League of America Annual #3: "Force of Nature" was written by Dan Mishkin with pencils by Rick Hoburg, inks by Mike Gustovich, and a cover by Paris Cullins and Mike Machlan.

The story begins with the android Red Tornado alone on the Justice League Satellite.  The satellite is badly damaged and plummeting toward the Earth while inside Red Tornado tries to hold the structure together.  Reddy also questions his humanity, but his existential crisis is interrupted by the satellite exploding.  Pieces of the satellite shower Earth in flames as the debris catches fire on reentry.

Below, Green Arrow and Black Canary have been rescued by Firestorm and ride a--a balloon in the shape of a puppy?  Really, Ronnie?!


In Detroit, Martian Manhunter watches the bulk of the satellite wreckage crashing toward the city's Renaissance Center.  J'Onn grabs Steel and Vibe just as Firestorm arrives with Dinah and Ollie.  Firestorm uses his atomic restructuring power to divert some of the debris, while Black Canary, Green Arrow, Steel and Vibe deal with the bits of fiery detritus that Firestorm misses.


But the largest chunk of the satellite, the command center, is still barreling down on the heart of Detroit.  J'Onn J'Onzz risks his life by throwing himself against the fireball.  Despite fire being his greatest weakness, his superior Martian strength is able to knock the satellite debris some ways from downtown.  Firestorm uses his powers to push the wreckage clear of the city and into the water of one of the Great Lakes.

In the aftermath, the Justice League members past and present begin to bicker amongst themselves with Green Arrow and Vibe about to throw down.  Firestorm separates them and calls their attention to the missing Red Tornado who was still on the satellite.  J'Onn, too, tries to settle the heated tempers and scans for Reddy.


The scene changes to New York City where Kathy Sutton, Red Tornado's boo, comes home from  the grocery store to find Reddy's face haunting her television screen beckoning her to join him.

Across the country, Ralph Dibny, the World Famous Elongated Man, and Zatanna Zatara, Mistress of Magic arrive at S.T.A.R. Labs to investigate a series of freak storms and unnatural weather problems across the globe.  Ralph surmises the influx of anti-matter energy is responsible for the storms, but a scientist confesses that S.T.A.R. Labs has been deploying experimental weather control satellites--weather control satellites that they're no longer able to control.

Elongated Man and Zatanna help the scientists try to override the weather satellites operations but fail to stop the satellites before the lab's control center is destroyed by malfunctioning equipment and another storm caused by a space warp opening up directly above the two heroes.

Back in Detroit, J'Onn brings Black Canary, Green Arrow and the rest of the League members to their current headquarters.  Ollie and Vibe continue to snap at each other.  Then some doctor comes out and describes the fate of Red Tornado.


Firestorm reveals to the others that Red Tornado's body was inhabited by the spirit of the Tornado Champion, but their discussion in cut off by Elongated Man's distress call.  The League watch on the monitor as Elongated Man and Zatanna are caught up in the storm and sucked into the space warp.

Meanwhile, Kathy Sutton follows Red Tornado's trail through hijacked electronic messages.

Then the Detroit heroes save some people trapped at a hydroelectric plant.  Black Canary, meanwhile, goes to Gotham City with Green Arrow and Firestorm.  They're flying into the city when Ollie spots Kathy Sutton standing on top of a bridge in the middle of the storm.  Kathy is rescued by Geo-Force and brought to Batman and Black Lightning.

Kathy is telling Batman and the Outsiders about following Red Tornado's summons when Dinah and the others land and tell them Reddy is dead.  Then Superman arrives and is unable to travel through the space-warp.  They reason that the rogue weather-control satellites are preventing the heroes from going through the warp, and J'Onn has been unable to destroy the satellites in space.  Superman flies up to help the Martian.

Geo-Force uses his positive gravity power to try and collapse the warp, but it doesn't work.  Instead, it pulls the jet nearly crushing the heroes.


Geo's powers create a crazy kind of backlash effect that sends Black Canary, Green Arrow, Firestorm and Kathy Sutton into the space warp.  Batman and the Outsiders cannot follow, because screw the Outsiders!

In space, Superman and J'Onn destroy one of the weather satellites, while the malevolent spirit controlling voices his rededication to his plan, whatever that might be.

At the hydroelectric dam, one space warp opens dumping Ralph and Zatanna on the Detroit Leaguers.  Another warp opens up dropping Dinah and the others.  Vibe acts like a dick, which is Ollie's thing, so Green Arrow smacks Vibe, calling him a punk.


Zatanna notices that the weather has changed, that something is affecting the wind and air pressure specifically.  In space, Superman and Martian Manhunter destroy the last of the satellites which plays right into the hands of the Tornado Champion that has been causing all of the storms.

The gathered heroes watch as the giant tornado takes a familiar form: Red Tornado.  The tornado spirit explains how Red Tornado's android self was able to interface with the electronic satellites in orbit, and the Champion's spirit overrode their programming making them go bad.


Superman and Firestorm recognize that Reddy had been taken over by the persona of the Tornado Tyrant, who now wants to remake the world in his skewed version of perfection.  While the heroes engage the Tyrant in battle, we cut back to Detroit where Sue Dibny witnesses a whirling wind steal away the broken android body of Red Tornado.

The Justice Leaguers fight Tornado Tyrant but they're not accomplishing much.  Kathy Sutton thinks there is still a semblance of her lover's soul inside the storm and runs away from Green Arrow.  The whirlwind picks her up, and in the eye of the storm Kathy confronts Red Tornado, but his soul isn't the gentle man she loved.  He's crazy and wants her to join him in his quest to conquer the world.

She's able to calm him enough that he lets his guard down.


Superman, Martian Manhunter, Vibe and Firestorm try to contain the Tornado Tyrant but he busts free and rants against them.  Then, like a bratty little kid, he flies off threatening to get them back someday.

I think I would have enjoyed this story if I cared at all about Red Tornado and his history but I really, really don't.  I don't care much about the new Justice Leaguers from Detroit, either.  J'Onn and Firestorm got some cool moments to shine in this story, but Black Canary, Green Arrow, Elongated Man and Zatanna were little more than bystanders for most of the action.

Despite the end-of-the-world style natural disasters and potential for mass destruction that would make Michael Bay squee with delight, the story feels a little too small for a 41-page annual.  Part of that is Hoburg's artwork which never really elevates the dynamic scenes, but part of it, too, is Mishkin's story which is really too straight-and-narrow for a comic of this length.