Sunday, March 30, 2014

Golden Oldie: FLASH COMICS #97

Black Canary's ongoing adventures continue with seven thrilling pages of mystery and suspense.  Carmine Infantino's pencils get better every month as he experiments with bold new panel layouts that make the action in Flash Comics #97 some of the best yet.

"The Mystery of the Stolen Cloth" is written by Robert Kanigher and drawn by Carmine Infantino.

The story opens with millionaire CEO Donald Swain being dumped from a moving car.  Swain rolls to a stop at the feet of Larry Lance.  The dying Swain recognizes Lance and gives him a piece of cloth, claiming that it's worth millions and the mob is willing to kill for it.  Then Swain dies.

At the Eastern Textile Mills warehouse, Black Canary spots the car used to kidnap Larry.  She slips inside where she finds Larry tied up by some low-level thugs answering to a known gangster named Threads.

Canary throws a bucket of chemicals at some of the gangsters, blinding them, and jumps around, dodging Threads' gunshots.  But when she leaps onto a conveyer belt, Threads turns on the belt, causing Black Canary to loser her balance.  She's pistol-whipped, because that has to happen in every issue, and tied up beside Larry.

Threads puts Lance and Canary on turning bobbins and has them wrapped in cloth until Larry will reveal what he did with Swain's piece of cloth.  When the detectives refuse to cooperate, Threads leaves them to be wound with cloth while he leaves the room, presumably to go to the bathroom or something.

Wow, it seems like Black Canary always has exactly the right tool in her choker for whatever perilous situation she finds herself in.

And she managed to start a fire with flint and steel using only her chin!

Black Canary and Larry Lance escape, fight their way past Threads' goons and kick open the door to his office.  He drops a giant blanket on them and bolts, but they're quickly on his back again.

Another simple but funny story, a bit more wild than most with the action beats.  The reason this story feels so much more fun is that Black Canary seems to have a real villain to oppose.  Threads is newly created for this story, but their dialogue suggests a previous encounter.  He could have been her first recurring rogue if they ever used him again.

Black Canary has never had a real rogues gallery of her own.  Most of her most interesting enemies are borrowed from other characters.  In her ongoing series from the '90s, she maybe had two baddies who would qualify as super-villains.  But most of her solo stories involved unnamed or unknown street-level crooks.  It's not a bad thing, but when heroes are measured by their villains, Black Canary has never measured up.

Come back next Sunday for another Golden Age adventure of Black Canary in Flash Comics #98.

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