Friday, June 13, 2014

Pretty Bird: DETECTIVE COMICS #552

Previously in Detective Comics...

Oliver Queen learned there's such a thing as illegal immigrants when the INS interrupted his lunch with Dinah to haul away most of the staff of his favorite Spanish restaurant.  Ollie followed the advice of one of the employees and tracked down a refugee from El Salvador living in a church basement with his family.  But then the INS came again and arrested the Salvadorans and Ollie.  Meanwhile, the woman known as Onyx is looking for Ollie, but crashing in the back of a store.

Detective Comics #552 starred Batman in the lead story by Doug Moench, Pat Broderick, and Bob Smith.  The Green Arrow backup strip, "Sanctuary II: Poor, Huddled Masses" is written by Joey Cavalieri and drawn by Jerome Moore.

The second part of "Sanctuary" opens with Oliver Queen in a detention center operated by the Immigration and Naturalization Service reflecting on the lack of compassion and humanity in how the detained men and women and children are treated.  A guard takes Ollie in to see the... I guess the warden, or the Agent-in-Charge, maybe.  Whatever.

The AC calls Ollie a bleeding heart and makes the point that the illegal immigrants are costing tax dollars and they'll never assimilate and be productive members of society.  Ollie calls the man a racist and that's about the limit of their intelligent debate.  The AC sends Ollie back to his cell.

A little later, Ollie's "lawyer" shows up--from the firm of "Byrd and Pierce".  Nice.

When Dinah leaves, Ollie murmurs, "Pretty clever, Pretty Bird."  He uses the lock pick hidden in her collar-stay to open the door to the cell and leads Francisco and his family out of the cell block.  They cross the grounds to the fence where a pair of armed guards call them to a halt.  Ollie uses Dinah's second collar stay as a smoke bomb to thwart the guards, then he and the Salvadorans make it to the gate where Dinah is waiting in her car (except it's not the same sporty car she had last issue).

Ollie ignores Dinah's protests about his duffel bag and drives right into the side of the detention center, breaking the wall.  As he pulls away, the rest of the detainees pour out of their cells.  They overwhelm the guards and disappear into the night.  Amidst the chaos, Ollie and Dinah drive off with Francisco and his family, promising to take them to the next church on their underground railroad.

Back at the detention center, the guards complain that they could have contained the jailbreak if the Agent-in-Charge let them open fire.  The AC shuts them down, saying dead prisoners would be a public relations nightmare and he would become the scapegoat.  He says rounding up the escapees is the state police's job now.  This... is remarkably level-headed for a comic book "villain".  I'm genuinely surprised he leaves the matter like this and doesn't go off with a shotgun to murder Ollie in revenge.  Joey Cavalieri writes against the expected-though-illogical choice, which creates a fair amount of humor and enjoyment.

Some time later, Ollie has finally donned his Green Arrow costume and goes swinging and climbing to stretch his legs.

Onyx has tracked Ollie down and surmises that he and Green Arrow are one and the same.

Sanctuary wasn't a bad story.  Despite Ollie and Dinah spending all of their time as, well, as Ollie and Dinah not Green Arrow and Black Canary.  There is a lot of philosophical and emotional depth to a story about immigration, racism, and refugees from a war-torn land, but Cavalieri only skims the surface of these issues.  Maybe he didn't--or couldn't--be too controversial, but it comes across today as softball pitching the issue instead of really examining it with any consequences.  Jerome Moore's art is pretty fluid, though he doesn't get much to do in these issues.  Hopefully he can cut loose next time around.

At the issue's end, the tag promises a new Green Arrow and Black Canary adventure next month "with a startling new development!"  What that vague teaser promises is the set-up that will lead to Black Canary's new costume.

Come back next Friday for "Crazy From the Heat" in Detective Comics #553.

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