Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Black Canary: New Wings #2

Previously in Black Canary...

Black Canary: New Wings #2 - "Home is Where Ya' Live" is written by Sarah Byam, with pencil art by Trevor Von Eeden and inks by Dick Giordano.  Mike Gold edited the issue with Steve Haynie providing letters and Julie Lacquement colors.

We pick up with Dinah having a sort of picnic date with her new friend, Gan Nguyen, a passionate and danger-prone talk-radio host.  They eat takeout and enjoy a beautiful Pacific Northwest sunset while Gan tells Dinah about his history.  His father served in Air Force Intelligence during the War in Vietnam and promptly disappeared after getting his mother pregnant.  Gan's mother put him on a refugee boat bound for America to spare him the harsh treatment of half-American children growing up in Vietnam after the war.

Gan faces the same violence and discrimination in Seattle, but not because of his ethnicity.  It's because he challenges the system.  In addition to picking fights with street-level drug dealers, Gan is highly critical of Senator Loren Garrenger's hypocritical drug policies.

In the sleepy nearby town of Sandbar, a teenage boy named Chad Brennan narrates the social and economic troubles that have fallen on his father and the rest of the community.  Sgt. Brennan was a Marine sniper, but with no war to fight, he has started drinking heavily and seeing enemies in the government, and the faces of immigrants, and other social castes he views as infringing on his freedom.

The Brennans are paid a visit by Loren Garrenger, Jr., the senator's son.

Back in Seattle, Dinah tends to her daytime business, Sherwood Florist.  She grumbles and curses about Oliver Queen's inattentiveness while listening to Gan's radio interview with Senator Garrenger. Gan points out the inadequacies in Garrenger's drug policies, citing that there are no treatments and avenues for assistance targeting non-English speakers.

Dinah recalls something she heard in the news some time ago and heads to the local library to do a little research.  She finds an article about Loren Junior getting arrested in a drug bust.  The newspaper named Garrenger, but Junior was later released with all charges against him dropped.  Dinah calls the paper to speak to the journalist who wrote the article, but he's been transferred and nobody knows where.  Dinah smells cover-up.

Dinah goes to Gan's apartment and shuts down his flirting with a stack of notes pointing to corruption in Senator Garrenger's office and family.  Gan looks over her findings but deems them speculation, not evidence; he thinks she's too quick to see conspiracy that she's not being an objective detective.

Dinah spends the night at Gan's place, and the next morning he leaves her sleeping so that he can go start another fight.  He parks a radio sound-truck outside a local drug den and announces his plan to "Adopt a Crack House" for the community.  His timing is either great or terrible, because a local pusher inside the building is meeting with his supplier.

A crowd gathers around outside, including police trying to maintain order while Gan stirs them up.  Inside the crack den, the well-dressed supplier, Drake, argues with the local pusher, Sooner, about the severity of the situation and why Gan wasn't killed off earlier.  Dinah wakes and recognizes the trouble brewing.  She dons her Black Canary costume and rushes to help Gan.  Unbeknownst to her, Sgt. Brennan has taken position in a tree down the street and taken aim against Gan.

Black Canary's appearance causes enough of a commotion that Brennan's shot strikes Gan but not fatally.  The shot causes the crowd on the street to explode in panic.  Pedestrians run every which way while the cops exchange gunfire with the drug dealers inside the apartment.

Black Canary runs to the apartment to take down the drug dealers, and the wounded Gan follows her.

Seemingly boxed in, Drake kills Sooner and his accomplices and plants a gun with a stoned junkie who won't be able to explain the situation to the police.  Then Drake sneaks into the sewers beneath the apartment as the police storm the den.

Black Canary and Gan find more dead dealers, but Dinah is more concerned with the junkies who lost themselves to the drugs before the violence was set off.

The action in this issue isn't as clean or exciting as the previous chapter, but the story has grown a little more substantive.  The conspiracy between the Senator, his son, this rogue Marine sniper, and the drug trade in Seattle is a worthy opponent for Black Canary.  It's both street-level and systematic with wealthy or governmental connections; exactly what a good crime noir should have.

I enjoy the mention of Dinah's mom as the previous Black Canary, and the oblique references to Canary's torture in Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters, but I wonder how new user-friendly these references are.  There is a bit of prerequisite knowledge in this story if you want to really understand how frustrated Dinah feels when faced with a powerful adversary like Senator Garrenger.  It's clear that she wants to strike back because of the victimization she felt before.  But the whys and wherefores are kept from the reader, and I'm not sure if that hurts Byam's storytelling.

Come back next Wednesday for my review of Black Canary: New Wings #3.

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