Sunday, April 6, 2014

Golden Oldie: FLASH COMICS #98

Black Canary's ongoing adventures continue with seven thrilling pages of mystery and suspense in Flash Comics #98.

"The Byzantine Black" is written by Robert Kanigher and drawn by Carmine Infantino.

The story begins with Dinah Drake hurrying back to her flower shop, having forgotten to put a shipment of orchids in the refrigerator.  When she returns to her store, however, she is shocked to discover that the outside signage and inside contents have been replaced to look like a small grocery store.  She's in the right place, but her business has been completely changed.

Sneaking through the store, Dinah overhears men in the back room talking about pulling a scam on a millionaire named Roger Steele.  Wasting no more time, Dinah dons the disguise of her crime stopper alter-ego, the Black Canary.

She rushes into the back of her shop to foil the crooks.  They take shots at her, but she avoids the bullets.

Outside the shop, Black Canary finds the body of Roger Steele, thankfully still alive.  Larry Lance arrives and tells Canary that he was hired to bodyguard Steele after the Byzantine Black was stolen.  Lance tells her the Byzantine Black is an extremely valuable stamp.

Black Canary and Larry Lance bring Roger Steel back to his mansion, where the millionaire's niece, Elaine, helps him recover.  She mentions her uncle meeting the crooks at a grocery store, which rings an alarm bell in Black Canary's mind.  But before she can inquire, Canary and Lance are pistol-whipped unconscious because that happens every month.

When the pair of heroic investigators awaken ,they are on a precariously balanced teeter-totter above a pit of quicksand.  Should either of them move too much in any way, the other or both will surely fall into the sand and die.  But Black Canary has a plan.  She dislodges a boulder with a rope vine and pulls it down on her side of the plank.

Black Canary and Larry Lance rush off to pursue the crooks while she makes fun of Larry's clothes.  In no time at all...

Upon reading this story, I'm confronted by one burning question: was this whole contrived plot just a means to encourage kids and readers to collect stamps?  Have stamps ever really been worth anything or is that just a myth?  I don't get it.  The Byzantine Black could have been anything--the whole point of a McGuffin--but why a stamp?!!

Anyway, the plot and Larry's place in the story are pretty thin, but it's nice seeing Black Canary use her mind to figure out traps and the identity of the real criminal mastermind in this story.  Not only is she a superb fighter, she's a smart detective.  She's a better judge of character--by a thousand--than Black Canary in the New 52's Birds of Prey.

Come back next Sunday for another Golden Age adventure of Black Canary in Flash Comics #99.

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