Sunday, February 2, 2014

Golden Oldie: FLASH COMICS #90 (Dec 1947)

After not appearing for an issue, Black Canary came back strong in the Johnny Thunder strip in Flash Comics #90.  As usual for these backup adventures, her story is only six pages.  At this point, she has established herself as a crime fighter, and the object of Johnny's affections.

"The Map That Wasn't There" is written by Robert Kanigher and drawn by Carmine Infantino.

The Black Canary poses with Johnny Thunder and the Thunderbolt on the title page as if they're a family, and by this point she was establishing herself as a regular.  Even though she didn't appear in the previous issue, I have a feeling the editors received some angry fan mail wanting to see more of her.  In fact, her name is larger and more colorful than his on the first page.

The photographer snaps a picture of Johnny and promises to send it to Johnny's home.  But just as he's taking the picture, a pair of armed robbers run from the bank.  Johnny ducks under their gunfire and the robbers escape.

Later, Johnny returns home to find a package from the photographer.  When he opens it, however, the picture is of an old man, not him.  So Johnny goes to the Ace Photography Company to confront the man and get the pictures straitened out.

There he finds Black Canary kneeling over the dead photographer.

As the police lead Johnny and Canary out of the photographer's lab, they are ambushed by the real robbers.  The bank robbers put Johnny and Black Canary in their car and explain how they killed the photographer because he got them on film.  Then they doctored the photo to look like an old man temporarily and sent it to Johnny.  So when Johnny arrived, he would be framed for the kill.  The Canary just happened to be investigating the case and arrived at the wrong place and the wrong time.

Hey, wait... Why the **** did the robbers come back and kidnap them?  This was a frame job?  You don't rescue the person you're framing from the cops, you let them rot in prison for the crime you committed.  That's the whole point.  This makes no sense.

Anyway, Johnny and Canary run and hide in a tower full of gasoline.  The crooks lock them in there until Johnny summons the Thunderbolt.  When the Thunderbolt touches the gas, though, it ignites.  He pulls them from the tower as it explodes, but the concussion knocks Thunderbolt unconscious.  They have to wake him up before they all fall to their deaths.

Canary and Johnny go back to the photo shop to thwart the crooks.

Oh boy.  This could have been a fun, innocent little adventure, but Kanigher drops the ball at the halfway point.  The inventiveness of the criminals' plan is effectively ruined when they come back to over explain it.

It's nice to see the Thunderbolt get knocked out so he invulnerable.  He seems to be used as a one-off deus ex machina in these stories.  Black Canary has really supplanted the genie as Johnny's crime fighting partner, especially given that he's an oafish twit and she does all the work.

Come back next Sunday for another Golden Age adventure of Black Canary in Flash Comics #91, her final guest-starring role before getting her own feature!

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