Sunday, March 9, 2014

Golden Oldie: FLASH COMICS #94

What a difference a page makes.  Once Black Canary's solo feature kicked off, creators Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino gave her recurring strip a seventh page and the story quality soared with added real estate for twists and turns.  By the time Flash Comics #94 came out in April 1948, Kanigher was cementing the playful relationship between Dinah Drake and Larry Lance, and Infantino was stretching his legs in some of the panels to create better action shots.

"Corsage of Death" is written by Robert Kanigher and drawn by Carmine Infantino.

I love that Larry Lance's private detective business is run out of Dinah's flower shop.  It's a nice way of acknowledging that he's good but not so successful that he can afford his own private office space. It's also a convenient way to get them together talking every issue since they're not a romantic couple at this point.

Dinah and Larry rush back to the scene of the explosion and discover the customer is dead and the woman missing.  But the woman didn't go far, only to a pair of nearby beat cops responding to the sound of the blast.  The woman tells the police that Dinah and Larry killed Mr. Van Nell.

Sensing the frame-job coming down, Larry grabs his special lady friend and bolts from the cops.  He tells Dinah to sneak back to her flower shop and stay hidden while he investigates the crime.  Dinah does, in fact, return to her flower shop, but not to wait for Larry.  She changes into her Black Canary costume and heads out.

Arriving at the victim's home, Black Canary finds Larry tied up.  The other woman is waiting and her goons spring on the Canary, but the "Mistress of Judo"--that's actually what the caption calls her--flips them over with ease.  Then the woman pistol-whips Black Canary, knocking her unconscious.

Last time Black Canary was in a jam, she released a smoke pellet from the canary-shaped locket on her choker.  Now it's just a mirror, but so convenient--truly her utility belt wrapped around her neck!

Out in the street, the woman and her crew use the Photon Smasher flashlight on an armored car, wrecking its tires and undercarriage and sending the truck into a light post.  As she and her crew begin unloading the valuables inside, Black Canary and Larry Lance arrive... via helicopter that was just lying around and now hovers above the action.

As Canary and Lance beat down the thugs, she explains how the mirror sent the light of the Photon Smasher back at the device, destroying it.

Notice the last panel of this story is the same visual gag, and practically the same drawing of Larry, as the last panel of the previous story in Flash #93.  It seems like Dinah Drake is always dangling clues as to her dual identity in front of the detective, who never seems to put the pieces together.

This was another fun adventure for Black Canary.  Even though every one of her cases involves her getting knocked out and captured, she always springs back and fights her way out.  Though explained away as nothing more than judo, Black Canary's hand-to-hand combat skills are always on display under Carmine Infantino's pencils.  She's physically strong and resilient and quick-thinking.  She doesn't ever take a backseat to her male counterpart.  She is the hero.

Come back next Sunday for another Golden Age adventure of Black Canary in Flash Comics #95.

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