Sunday, February 16, 2014

Golden Oldie: FLASH COMICS #92

After slumming in Johnny Thunder's misadventures for half a dozen issues, the Black Canary finally got her own recurring strip starting in Flash Comics #92.  And she did it with style as the Flash and Hawkman, the heroes who had alternated cover appearances since the magazine launched, both graced the cover to welcome her aboard.

Up to this point, Black Canary has been the femme fatale to the flaky Johnny Thunder and his magic genie.  From a masked criminal in her first appearance, to a sort-of Robin Hood criminal amongst criminals to vigilante crime fighter, her reputation evolved over her five previous appearances.  Her identity, however, really didn't.  Creators Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino had yet to establish any backstory for the character, or even her real name.

That's going to change in "The Huntress of the Highway" by Kanigher and Infantino.

As private eye Larry Lance leaves Dinah Drake's flower shop, a severe looking woman enters wishing to purchase a funeral wreath.  When Dinah asks who the wreath is for, the woman says, "It's for Mr. Larry Lance at 15 Clark Street."  The woman then throws some cash on the counter (really!) and leaves.

Riding atop the trash, Black Canary sees headlights approaching directly in front of the truck.  There is going to be a head-on collision if the truck doesn't swerve out of the way onto a small dirt road.

When the truck stops on the dirt road, Black Canary gets off the roof.  In the dark, the driver sneaks up and tries to grab her, but she uses her expert judo skills to flip the assailant onto his back.  He reaches for a gun and she tackles him.

The woman who ordered the wreath, who happens to be the mastermind behind the hijacked trucks, has her gang lead Black Canary and Larry Lance to the river where the two investigators are tied to a log.  The log is sent down the river where it carries Canary and Lance toward a waterfall.

Later, the real truck loaded with expensive furs is cruising down the highway when it seems like it's going to face another head-on crash.  Before the driver can turn the truck down the dirt road, Black Canary, hanging from the driver's side door, grabs the wheel and swerves the truck in other direction, crashing it right into the villains' hideout.

Larry Lance jumps off the roof of the truck and takes out two of the armed gang members.  Their leader draws a gun on Larry, but Black Canary kicks the gun out of her hand and takes her down.

But how did the heroes survive the waterfall?  And how were the trucks being ripped off?  And how did Black Canary get involved in Larry Lance's case?

Egads! That blonde wig! That costume!  Then that means the Black Canary is Dinah Drake!

So that's Black Canary's first solo outing.  It's a great little crime caper that isn't bogged down by Johnny Thunder's attempts at slapstick.  Larry Lance is a great foil; the macho gumshoe who needs a woman's help to save his butt.  And, of course, most importantly, we get Black Canary's real identity. She is Dinah Drake (a great alliterative name), owner of a flower shop.  And she has dark hair.  The Black Canary's golden locks is just a wig!

As a bonus for this important entry in the Canary's career, here is Carmine Infantino's forward to the Black Canary Archives where he talks about the character's creation.

Come back next Sunday for another Golden Age adventure of the Black Canary in Comics Cavalcade #25.

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