Saturday, June 28, 2014

Golden Oldie: FLASH COMICS #104

Black Canary's ongoing adventures in Flash Comics... conclude with nine thrilling pages of mystery and suspense in issue #104, the series' last installment for roughly a decade.

"Crime On Her Hands" is written by Robert Kanigher and drawn by Carmine Infantino.  I don't know why the editor or publisher bumped up the page space on Black Canary's feature from seven to nine, but I do know hers was the fifth and final story printed in Flash Comics #104.  Essentially, she closed one era of Flash, and Barry Allen kicked off the next one.

Larry Lance, "The World's Most Unemployed Private Detective" according to Dinah Drake, confesses that he's been evicted from his apartment for failing to pay the rent.  But he assures Dinah that he's got a new paying client, an Ernest Nythe who hired Larry to bodyguard his famous uncle Professor Lane Nythe, a criminologist at the State College.

Dinah acts less than impressed, and Larry leaves calling her his "thorny little rose".  Later, the phone rings as Dinah hangs floral wreathes while balancing carefully on a step-stool.  She employs some of her impressive martial arts training to kick the phone into her hand.

Dinah listens helplessly as Ernest Nythe blurts out half of a warning to Larry Lance before the sound of gunshots on the other end kill the conversation.  Dinah slips into the back of her store and changes into the Black Canary.  At the Nythe home, she finds Larry with Professor Nythe.

The professor appears distraught and blames himself for his nephew's death.  He explains that Ernest was working on an old unsolved murder case from years ago as part of the professor's criminology case.  Professor Nythe helped Ernest, but the younger man lost interest in the case even as word spread that they were nearing a resolution.

At that point, armed gunmen enter the room and jump at the chance to take out the famed Black Canary.  She fights one while Larry throws a heavy hardcover book at the other.

Yes, even in her final appearance in Flash Comics, Black Canary gets pistol-whipped unconscious.  Fearful that the gunshots will alert witnesses, the goons make a quick escape with the professor but leave Black Canary and Larry Lance alive.  When the two detectives awaken, Black Canary notices a chalky substance on the floor from the goons' footprints.  The substance burns to touch and she concludes that it's lime.

Black Canary and Larry track the bad guys to the one abandoned lime-kiln in town.  After a brief shootout, she drops sacks of lime on the goons.  This takes out the goons, but there's no sign of the professor.  Larry thinks they're too late to save him, but Black Canary still believes they can catch the criminal mastermind by using the professor's files on the old murder case.

They return to Professor Nythe's office only to find--shock of shocks--Professor Nythe is there, alive, and making up a pathetic story about escaping from the goons.

Realizing she's too smart, Professor Nythe taps a button and metal clamps come around the chairs, capturing Black Canary and Larry Lance.  Nythe reveals what the Canary has already figured out, that he was the killer in the unsolved case Ernest was investigating.  When Ernest learned the truth, his uncle murdered him and hired the goons to make it look like he was in danger, too.  Then he taps another button and knockout gas puts Black Canary and Larry to sleep.

Yes, because the two extra pages for this story means Black Canary can be knocked unconscious twice.

As deathtraps go, this one was pretty comically bad and the professor deserves to be caught for even dreaming it would work.  Robert Kanigher, it seems, was going to stretch the same formulaic pattern in his Black Canary tales no matter how many pages he got.

That was Black Canary's last published solo-adventure in the Golden Age, but it's not the last Golden Oldie for this blog.  Over the next two Sundays, I'll post reviews of Kanigher/Infantino Canary stories that didn't see the light of publication until twenty years later.

No comments:

Post a Comment