Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Black Canary: New Wings #3

Previously in Black Canary...

Black Canary: New Wings #3 - "Somebody's Keeper" 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.

The story opens up once again with Chad Brennan feeling the strain of his hometown Sandbar's socio-economic descent.  The men of his father's generation are poor and bitter, and blaming anything and anyone that looks different.  Chad walks out on their praise for his baseball skills when he sees a young Native American woman outside.

Meanwhile, in the back of the bar, Chad's father, former Marine Sgt. Brennan is meeting with Senator Garrenger's son, Lorry, and his aide.  The senator's man isn't thrilled that Sgt. Brennan failed to kill Gan Nguyen, a Seattle radio host who has been critical of Garrenger's administration.  Particularly, Gan has attacked the senator's "phony" war on drugs and poverty.

In addition to Gan surviving the assassination attempt, the fiasco at the drug house resulted in Drake, a high-end drug dealer escaping.  Drake knows too much about Garrenger's operation, so Lorry puts together a plan to lure Drake out of hiding and salvage their reputation.

Back in Seattle, Dinah Lance and Gan meet in Police Lieutenant Cameron's office.  Dinah tells them her theory that the shootout at the crack house was more than just drug-fueled unrest.  She thinks someone with big money and political connections was motivated to silence the dealers, Drake, and Gan, too.  Lt. Cameron thinks it's a tall tale and she'll need proof.

After the shootout, Drake escaped into the sewers.  He makes his way through dark and dank tunnels, kills some rats, and finds an exit to the city above.

Dinah and Gan leave the police station, arguing about the merits of Gan's civil protest.  She thinks his action led to the death of two people, but he asks how many more would die of drugs and other societal blights if he didn't use his voice to stand up against injustice.  Gan calls Dinah a hypocrite, considering her nighttime profession of costumed avenging.

A little later, Dinah has thrown on her work clothes, and the Black Canary returns to the scene of the crack house shootout.  She narrates the scene... but the captions don't make a whole lot of sense.  They almost seem to be out of order or they're missing something.  A problem with the lettering from one draft to the final script, perhaps?

The next day, Senator Loren Garrenger is harassing his son for his drug use and the scandal of his arrest years ago, an arrest with the rogue dealer named Drake.  The senator's aide, Boyd, calms him down, and Lorry tells his dad that he overheard the time and location of a major drug deal that could net his father a lot of good press.

Once the senator leaves, Lorry and Boyd confirm that they're sacrificing part of their own operation to give the senator a victory and to eliminate Drake.

Speaking of Drake.  As he's climbing out of the sewer, Black Canary has found him.  And Gan has caught up with Canary.  This sequence and their dialogue feels off, like there's a scene missing, which jives with the previous page of Black Canary looking into the crack house.

Anyway, Drake starts shooting up the building Dinah and Gan are hiding in.  She tells Gan to stay put while she sneaks around.  Gan shouts down to Drake about the danger of methane gas poisoning which is all around the sewage pit they're fighting in.

Oh, of course.  Black Canary slips in the mud because she's wearing heels.  Of course.

Drake jumps on Black Canary and begins to choke her.  Gan holds up a lighter and threatens to light it, which he claims will ignite the gas and kill them all.  Drake pushes Black Canary at Gan and pulls the trigger on his gun, but he's out of bullets.

Black Canary and Gan interrupt a tour of the city's tunnels and sewers by hauling Drake out.  Dinah says instead of taking their prisoner directly to Cameron's office at the police station, she's going to take him right to the docks to finger Senator Garrenger.

At the docks, the ship with the drugs is pulling into port, while Seattle's finest wait in the shadows to arrest the dealers.  Lt. Cameron is there, though he isn't too happy that the senator came along to see the operation succeed.

After Sgt. Brennan kills Drake, the police open fire on the ship.  The crew of smugglers and dealers return fire on the police, and the whole situation turns into a disaster.  As Black Canary and Gan sneak onto the ship, Brennan slips away with some scuba gear.  He meets one of his partners in the water and confesses that he still intends to murder Gan Nguyen, and now he plans to kill Black Canary, too.

Gan uses the ship's intercom to convince the crew to surrender.  When Black Canary studies the maps in the bridge, she theorizes that the crew may have already dropped off most of the drugs, and that this ambush was all a public relations set-up.  When Senator Garrenger and Lt. Cameron greet the press corps after the drug raid, Garrenger notices that Gan is not among the reporters and grows suspicious.

Black Canary and Gan follow the map to Gray's Harbor, a "summer camp for white supremacists" she calls it.  This is the last place on Earth that Gan would be safe, so Black Canary tells him to drive away if trouble starts.  She sneaks over the fence and enters the compound looking for evidence linking the racist group to the drug shipments.

A few elements of the story feel underdeveloped, and that combined with a few pages of dialogue and exposition that just don't make sense, make me feel that there was some rushed changes before the final issue went to print.  It definitely feels like Sarah Byam's story needed to be two or three pages longer, and maybe those pages were just taken out after they'd been scripted or pencilled.

Von Eeden and Giordano's artwork is mostly excellent, particularly the first shot of Black Canary (from behind, no less).  In her "hero" costume, she looks striking throughout the story, confident and dynamic, and larger than the frames allow.  She seems to be bursting out of the panels.  I wish the action choreography allowed her to show off her combat skills better in this issue, though.  She doesn't account for herself very well in the one fight she's given by slipping on garbage and nearly getting choked to death.

Come back next Wednesday for my review of the final chapter of this miniseries: Black Canary: New Wings #4.


  1. I would prefer flat boot soles and not heels.

    But I prefer this art over the stilted Greg Land stuff from the BoP issue you just reviewed.

  2. On my first reading some [many] years ago I simply could not understand this story - too many characters and too much unexplained things going on. So thank you for explaining it as best you could; im afraid the whole plot just escaped me first time round!
    This whole plot seemed very remiscent of the tv show 'The Wire' with its drug-dealers, low-life criminals, innocent people getting caught up...and youre right about some of the dialogue being out-of-sequence. Not to mention the panels, the fights, the characters...!!!

  3. Anj - Flats would be a lot--A LOT--more practical, and there's even a great deal of debate about it in the letter column throughout her mini and ongoing series.

    karl - I hear you. The first time I read this miniseries I had a very hard time following the story and who all the villainous characters were. It took a very thorough third reading to make sense of this issue, and I'm still convinced there was dialogue or exposition cut out or changed in the final draft.