Thursday, August 21, 2014

Super-Team Family: Black Canary and Spider-Girl

It's time again for me to steal repost one of Ross' custom DC/Marvel crossover covers from the Super-Team Family blog.  This one is a little more timely, though, as Ross just put this mash-up of Black Canary and Spider-Girl on his site earlier this week.

The Black Canary in this piece was originally penciled by George Perez, while Spider-Girl was drawn by Mark Bagley. 

Check out Super-Team Family: The Lost Issues for many, many more DC/Marvel crossover covers!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Black Canary by Peter Krause

Peter Krause drew Black Canary in Birds of Prey #7, but anyone with even a basic appreciation of comics ought to know his work from the seminal series Irredeemable from Boom! Studios and his work on Insufferable at Thrillbent, both written by Mark Waid.  If you haven't read either of those books, you're really missing out on some fantastic stories.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Birds of Prey #14 (Feb 2000)

Previously in Birds of Prey...

Birds of Prey #14: "Apokolips Express Part 2" is written by Chuck Dixon with pencils by Greg Land and Patrick Zircher, inks by Drew Geraci, and colors by Gloria Vasquez.  The cover was done by Land and Brian Stelfreeze.

Black Canary and Catwoman are trapped on Apokolips with the mutated miniature Parademon who brought them there.  The Parademon, Pharzoof, starts recounting his origin and motives for kidnapping the ladies and a U.S. Marshal transport train full of G-list super-villains.  Dinah, however, really doesn't care about Pharzoof's origin and motives.  She hates him and she wants him to boom-tube them back to Earth.

Elsewhere on the planet, Marshal Dina--not to be confused with Dinah--leads her outnumbered and outgunned squadron in a desperate defense against thousands of Parademon warriors.  To balance the scales, she unleashes the train's five prisoners, which includes a clone of Guy Gardner and some other assholes.

The marshals we don't know and the villains we don't care about spend five or six pages fighting Parademons because Chuck Dixon and Greg Land still haven't gotten the hang of depicting character moments in this series.  Meanwhile, Black Canary and Catwoman sneak through the slave-operated diamond mine to find a motherbox.

Leaving Catwoman to her selfish devices, Black Canary and Pharzoof sneak into the armory of Granny Goodness' Female Furies.  It doesn't take long for the little monster to uncover a working motherbox, but before Black Canary can escape, one of the Female Furies attacks.

Back on Earth, Oracle sent Power Girl to the site of the marshals' train disappearance.  Power Girl hears from the agent-in-charge that the radiation readings around the train tracks suggest the train and its occupants were boom-tubed to Apokolips.

As the hordes of Parademons threaten to overwhelm the marshals, Dina leads her men in one final counter-surge with a rousing speech comparing them to other valiant defenders who all died horribly.

Black Canary fights Lashina for a little while.  Then Catwoman returns and jumps the Fury.  She tells Dinah to get away with Pharzoof and the motherbox.

Black Canary miraculously returns to the scene of the marshals' last stand and creates a boom-tube.  Black Canary, Catwoman, the surviving marshals, and the super-villains all escape, leaving Pharzoof back on Apokolips to be dealt with by Parademons and Female Furies.

On Earth, the villains are taken back into custody.  Black Canary reunites with Oracle via audio communication, and Catwoman slips away to burgle another day.

Thus concludes the most underwhelming story involving the Apokolips and the New Gods... until every story involving Apokolips and the New Gods published between the mid-2000s to present day. Once again, Chuck Dixon fails to capture real human character moments or progress the characters in any meaningful way, because Oracle is nothing more than a cameo in this two-parter, and Black Canary takes a backseat to Catwoman, a bunch of federal agents dressed like stormtroopers, and some lame-ass villains that aren't even worthy of the likes of Invisible Destroyer and Signalman.

This is the last issue to feature Greg Land and Drew Geraci for quite a while.  That's good.  It pleases me, and that's all I'll say.

Come back next Tuesday for a review of Birds of Prey #15.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Action Plus: ACTION COMICS #421

In the early 1970s, Black Canary appeared regularly in the pages of Justice League of America and pretty regularly in Green Lantern.  When the adventures of the Hard Travelin' Heroes got cancelled, Black Canary popped up in a few other places, like issues of Adventure Comics and The Brave and the Bold.

After Green Lantern ended, Green Arrow joined the "Action Plus" feature of Action Comics, which alternated backup stories starring the Emerald Archer, the Atom, and Human Target.  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 #421 is cover dated February 1973 but came out December 28, 1972, according to Mike's Amazing World of DC Comics.  The lead Superman story is written by Cary Bates with art by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson and a cover by Nick Cardy.

The Green Arrow strip entitled "The Headline Maker" is written by Elliot S. Maggin with pencils by Sal Amendola and inks by Dick Giordano.

Swinging onto the burning theater, Green Arrow kicks open the door to the upper balcony to free the patrons trapped inside.  They're still stuck on the upper floor, however, so Ollie fires off some trick arrows that create a safety net on the street below.  He sets an example for the less than enthusiastic civilians by leaping out the window and landing safely on the net below.

After ensuring the theater-goers are safe, Green Arrow makes his exit, dodging the show's press agent.  He ducks away and changes into his private citizen garb as Oliver Queen.  Then he heads out to meet Dinah the day before she opens her store called Pretty Bird Flower Shoppe.

Ollie takes off to find someone to advertise her story, leaving Dinah behind to clean up the mess he made by knocking over the potted plant.  Dinah watches Ollie leave, wondering why she loves him, or if she does, since she can't bring herself to form the L-word.

On his way across town, Ollie recognizes a mob hit-man named Lucas Branson.  Ollie follows Branson down into the subway and spies on the assassin.  Branson uncovers a tape in a phone booth, plays the recording, and hears the details of his next target.  As Branson goes back upstairs to the street, though, Ollie uses a siren-arrow to spook the hit-man and send him running back to the subway train.

Ollie calls the Star City Herald and tells them Green Arrow will capture Lucas Branson in front of the Pretty Bird Flower Shoppe.  He follows Branson on the train and tips off a beat cop as to the hood's identity, but Branson gets away from the cop and goes up to the street.  Ollie changes into his Green Arrow outfit and confronts Branson on the street in front of Dinah's store.

Green Arrow fires an arrow at Branson's gun, disarming the man.  As Dinah, the cops, and the Herald photographer converge on the street, Green Arrow takes out the mob enforcer.

So no Black Canary action in this issue of Action, but at least Dinah got to put Ollie in his place at times with a few well-placed smart-ass comments.  Plus, she looks gorgeous and foxy rendered by Amendola and Giordano.

The real weird part of the story, though, is when Ollie points out the mobster to the police officer in the subway.  Ollie says he's giving the cops the chance to make the arrest and get the glory, but that seems counter to his agenda, and also dangerous.  What if Branson panicked at the sight of the cop like he did at the sound of police sirens?  What if Branson killed the subway cop because Ollie pointed him out?  I don't think that would make Ollie culpable of the death of a police officer, but it would be a little ethically smudgy.

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

Friday, August 15, 2014

Pretty Bird: DETECTIVE COMICS #565

Previously in Detective Comics...

Detective Comics #565 starred Batman and Catwoman in a story by Doug Moench with art by Gene Colan, who also drew the cover.  Green Arrow and Black Canary teamed up in a backup strip titled "Death by Misadventure" written by Joey Cavalieri and drawn by new penciler Stan Woch.

Green Arrow and Black Canary were sneaking around an old mansion looking to rescue the mayor's son from kidnappers.  Black Canary was knocked out by the mayor in his sinister guise as Steelclaw, while Green Arrow opened a door upstairs that set off an explosion.

When Green Arrow picks himself up, he is greeted by two boys.  One is Bruce Bolt, the mayor's son; the other is Rick O'Connor, who the editor's note refers to as "Hi-Tek" from a zillion Green Arrow stories, remember?  I actually don't remember this character, but whatever.  Hi-Tek helps Ollie to his feet and explains that he was assisting Bruce's tutor when they discovered that strange men were following Bruce home from school and lurking around the house.  They got permission from the tutor, a woman named Myrna Cuthbertson, to build some home-defense booby-traps, including the door bomb.

Outside, the two kidnappers happen upon Steelclaw over Black Canary's unconscious form.  One of the hoods intends to shoot her in the head, but Steelclaw objects.  Mayor Bolt has infiltrated the world of crime hoping to take it down from inside, but he can't allow Black Canary to be murdered.  Unfortunately, the goons are no longer interested in letting Steelclaw boss them around.

The gunshots get Green Arrow's attention up in the house.  He looks out the window to see one of the gunmen about to execute Dinah.

Green Arrow comes down and unties Black Canary.  Then Bruce Bolt and the others follow and little Brucie asks about the hooded figure bleeding out on the lawn.  Won't that be awkward when he finds out it's his dad.

Onyx tries to leave the shop but Tommie has her locked inside and demands to know what she's afraid of and why she came back.

Come back next Friday for the next part of Green Arrow and Black Canary's continuing adventures in Detective Comics...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Birds of Prey #13 (Jan 2000)

Previously in Birds of Prey...

Birds of Prey #13: "Apokolips Express" is written by Chuck Dixon with pencils by Greg Land and Patrick Zircher, inks by Drew Geraci, and colors by Gloria Vasquez.  The cover was done by Land and Brian Stelfreeze.

Black Canary boarded a military train full of U.S. Marshals transporting a group of super-villains--and Catwoman who snuck aboard to spring the villains.  But then a mysterious evil-doer who has been manipulating Oracle for some time triggered a Boom Tube sending the train and its occupants across time and space to a distant world.

Dinah and Dina, the head of the marshals, climb out of the wrecked train trying to figure out what happened and where they landed.  Black Canary realizes pretty quickly where they ended up.

Marshal Dina shoots down some of the aircraft coming to investigate the train's sudden arrival and derailment.  The rest of the marshals secure the location and the prisoners on board, all except for Catwoman of course.

The mystery villain in the hat and trench coat makes his presence known and Marshal Dina opens fire and blasts him.  Black Canary freaks out, knowing that whoever that strange-o is he transported them to Apokolips and he can send them back to Earth.  So Black Canary and Catwoman head out looking for the mystery guy.

Back on Earth, Oracle has enlisted the aid of Power Girl to help her find Dinah and the mystery train.

Black Canary and Catwoman watch a flight of parademons soaring overhead toward the marshals' location.  Then the women find the damaged exo-suit of their mystery villain, which means whoever is behind this is actually really small and trying to hide his appearance.

The parademons attack the train, but the marshals are able to fall back and reposition.  Marshal Dina realizes she needs heavier weapons to defend the train and its cargo of villains.

Meanwhile, Catwoman wonders why Canary can't call Oracle for help.

As Black Canary and Catwoman skulk around Apokolips, they find a mining pit operated by slaves.  Catwoman is more interested in what the mine is producing than who is working it; she likes the shiny blood diamonds.

At the train, Dina fires a big honking bazooka weapon that blows away most of the parademons.  For the moment, the marshals have held them off but a prolonged defense will require a lot more power on their side.

Black Canary and Catwoman find the mystery villain crying behind a rock.  He turns out to be an unusually small parademon who wanted to kidnap the super-villains in order to lead a revolt.

At the train, Dina frees the five captives and tells them they all need to work together in order to survive.

Uh... I'll do more analysis when this arc is over, 'kay?

Come back next Tuesday for a review of Birds of Prey #14.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Pretty Bird: DETECTIVE COMICS #564

Previously in Detective Comics...

Detective Comics #564 starred Batman and Robin in a story by Doug Moench with art by Gene Colan, who also drew the cover.  Green Arrow and Black Canary teamed up in a backup strip titled "This Masquerade" written by Joey Cavalieri and drawn by Jerome K. Moore.

After Green Arrow and Black Canary beat the information they need out of some Star City hoods, we jump to Mayor Bolt holding a press conference where he talks about the need to fight the city's rampant crime wave.  Marty Costa watches the press conference on television until he gets disgusted and orders his men to kidnap the mayor's son.

Across town, Ollie and Dinah are also watching the mayor's speech.  Dinah, too, feels disgust, knowing that the mayor is really the costumed criminal mastermind known as Steelclaw.  However corrupt Mayor Bolt may be, though, Dinah knows that his son is innocent and must be protected.

The heroes ride Black Canary's motorcycle to the mayor's mansion.  They split up and sneak onto the premises from different sides.  As Dinah creeps across the lawn, she thinks of how annoying Ollie's overprotectiveness is, and how she might be better off as a solo adventurer.  (This was sort of around the post-Crisis time when John Byrne was considered for a Black Canary solo book, but that fizzled out.  Instead of going solo, Dinah would soon join the new, international Justice League.)

Black Canary skulks around the outside of the mansion, observing its worn, almost decrepit state, while failing to notice the cloaked figure stalking up behind her.

Green Arrow gets inside the house and searches room to room for the mayor's son.  He witnesses Marty Costa's men arrive in a van outside and has to double-time his search.  Thinking he hears voices down the hall upstairs, he rushes to check one of the nearest closed doors.

Outside, Black Canary is unconscious from an anesthetic administered by Steelclaw when he snuck up on her.  Steelclaw ties her up, wondering why the former Justice League heroine would turn to a life of crime.  He wonders, but doesn't care all that much; he's just proud to be able to take her down and leave her bound for the police.  Then Steelclaw, too, is caught unawares as Marty Costa's hoods draw their guns on him.

Meanwhile, in another part of Star City, the kid named Tommie is cleaning up the back of the shop where he works when he discovers Onyx hiding in the back room.

The more I read of this storyline, the more I wish something had come of Black Canary's newfound superpower--that is her ability to persuade men into giving up information because of something in her voice.  I honestly like that a whole lot more for the character than her sonic scream.  Unfortunately, Cavalieri introduced it in this story arc, and I don't think anyone else ever picked it up later.  And within a couple of years, Mike Grell would take Dinah's sonic powers away completely in The Longbow Hunters.

Come back next Friday for the next part of Green Arrow and Black Canary's continuing adventures in Detective Comics...

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Calculator Saga Finale: DETECTIVE COMICS #468

Continuing from this week's amazing exploits of Black Canary, Green Arrow, Hawkman, the Atom, and Elongated Man individually combating The Calculator, writer Bob Rozakis brought this thrilling saga out of the backups and into the main pages of Detective Comics.  Joining Rozakis was Marshal Rogers, making his debut on the character of Batman, along with regular inker Terry Austin.

Detective Comics #468: "Battle of the Thinking Machines" opens with the Caped Crusader swinging by a construction site where the Calculator is robbing a newly unearthed time capsule of its centuries-old trinkets.  The Calculator uses the equipment on his chest and head to project an axe; he hurls it at the rope Batman uses to swing down, cutting the line and sending Batman falling to the street.

Calculator anticipates every one of Batman's attacks with the gadgets from his utility belt, effortlessly thwarting the Dark Knight's attempts to capture him.  At last, Batman gets the better of Calculator by using the criminal's own projected objects against him.

As Batman takes the Calculator into custody, the villain pushes some buttons on his chest piece, claiming he will turn defeat into victory.  This is basically the same thing Calculator has been saying for the past five issues of Detective.  Every time one of the Justice Leaguers smacked him down, Calculator bragged that this was all part of his plan.

The next day, Morgan Edge of Galaxy Broadcasting calls Bruce Wayne, hoping to sway the wealthy playboy into voting his way on some boring corporate stuff.  Bruce isn't interested in dealing with Edge, and he blows him off so he can head to a meeting of the Justice League of America.  Of course, he doesn't tell Morgan Edge he's meeting the JLA, and Edge assumes Wayne is jet setting with some supermodels.

In the Justice League Satellite, Batman tells Black Canary, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Elongated Man, and the Atom that the Calculator broke out of jail that morning.

The heroes discuss the Calculator's crime wave when Aquaman interrupts their meeting to tell them that the Calculator is committing a crime in Central City.  Aquaman is only there on Monitor Duty, and the Flash is away from Central City battling in the future.

The six heroes teleport down to Star City only to find the Calculator waiting for them, even applauding their arrival as it fits right with his plan.  Green Arrow fires a boxing glove arrow, but Calculator redirects the shot directly at Elongated Man.

Using his uncanny and ill-defined powers, the Calculator turns the heroes' attacks against each other, as Batman's batarang snaps Green Arrow's bow line just after he misfires, sending the arrow back at Batman.  Black Canary stumbles into Elongated Man and gets tangled up.  Hawkman drops Atom on Calculator from a distance; the Atom's full weight should smash Calculator, but he bounces off harmlessly.  Then Hawkman moves in for the attack.

The Atom changes to his normal size and appearance as Ray Palmer.  He takes a swing at Calculator but cannot connect.  Ray is physically unable to hit the Calculator.  As the villain saunters off in victory, he reveals that by allowing himself to get captured by each of them in the past, he inoculated himself to ever getting caught by these six superheroes ever again...


Okay, Rozakis, that is some straight-up Bob Haney level insanity!  You couldn't provide a better explanation than that?!!

The next day, Bruce Wayne is obsessed with finding a way to stop the Calculator when Morgan Edge shows up to nag him about the Galaxy sale at the board meeting.  Edge's sudden appearance gives Bruce the inspiration for how to thwart the Calculator, but it pisses Edge right off as he has twice been ignored by Wayne.

Later, the Calculator reads that S.T.A.R. Labs in Central City is going to launch another time capsule, so he goes to, like, rob it or something.  Along the way, he uses his head projector thing to create a blizzard and freeze a pair of police officers attempting to arrest him.  When he arrives at S.T.A.R. Labs, he creates a crane to hook the time capsule.  Then Batman arrives.

Batman throws some gadgets but they have no effect on the Calculator, of course.  The Calculator projects a large cage and throws it at Batman.  Then, inexplicably, the floor rotates changing Batman and Calculator's relative position, thereby dropping the cage down on Calculator.

See, Batman could not capture the Calculator, but the Calculator could capture himself.  He rages and howls and his equipment sputters and breaks down on him.  Later, Batman explains to his fellow Justice Leaguers how he tricked the Calculator.

Then an irate Morgan Edge calls to complain about stuff we don't care about.

Maybe the reason you've never seen Batman laughing is because it looks creepy as hell!  Seriously, Marshall Rogers makes him look insane in that last panel; this should be a cliffhanger into a Joker story!

Speaking of Rogers, his figure design and panel work is pretty solid.  I especially like he deviates from the normal construction to throw out some interesting special effects, like how Hawkman crashes during his fight with Calculator.  On the other hand, he's pretty spartan about backgrounds in a lot of these pages.  Rogers would go on to be one of the best Batman artists of his time, but this early issue needs a bit more work.

The story is pretty crazy.  As a climax, I like that Rozakis brought the five heroes back to help Batman foil the Calculator, even though none of them were particularly helpful.  The Calculator would eventually become a serious villain for the DC Universe in general and for the Birds of Prey in specific.  At this early stage of his career, however, he's pretty much a joke.  His costume is lame and his powers are so wonky and inconsistent that it's hard to take him seriously.  I mean, Signal Man was better than this guy.

Thus concludes the Calculator Saga.  Come back tomorrow when I jump forward nearly one-hundred issues of Detective Comics for the next part of "Pretty Bird" with Black Canary and Green Arrow.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Calculator Saga: DETECTIVE COMICS #467

Continuing from yesterday's thrilling adventure of Green Arrow and The Calculator, writer Bob Rozakis, penciler Marshal Rogers, and inker Terry Austin test the Calculator's criminal computations against the Winged Wonder in Detective Comics #467.

Presented here, uninterrupted, is the six-page backup story "The Man Who Skyjacked Hawkman" starring, naturally, Hawkman.

Come back tomorrow for the final part in the Calculator Saga starring Batman and all the heroes who have appeared in the last five chapters!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Calculator Saga: DETECTIVE COMICS #466

Continuing from yesterday's thrilling adventure of Elongated Man and The Calculator, writer Bob Rozakis, penciler Marshall Rogers (doing his first work for Detective), and inker Terry Austin test the Calculator's criminal computations against the Emerald Archer in Detective Comics #466.

Presented here, uninterrupted, is the six-page backup "Take Me Out of the Ballgame" starring Green Arrow.

Come back tomorrow for the next part in the Calculator Saga starring Hawkman!