Friday, July 11, 2014

Pretty Bird: DETECTIVE COMICS #560

Previously in Detective Comics...

Feeling the need for a change in attitude and appearance, Black Canary scrapped her old fishnets costume in favor of a new more tactical and '80s-looking tracksuit.

Detective Comics #560 starred Batman in a story by Doug Moench with art by Gene Colan, who also drew the cover.  Green Arrow and Black Canary teamed up in a backup strip titled "...Me A Bad Guy...?" written by Joey Cavalieri and drawn by Jerome K. Moore.  The story opens with Oliver Queen reading the newspaper over breakfast and Dinah Lance complaining that he's hogging all the croissants.

Other than the bizarre fact that Dinah thinks she can get "morning sickness" from chili and eggs, it's a nice, funny-ish scene.  In Dinah's defense, Black Canary used to get knocked unconscious every single issue, so a little memory loss or mild brain damage is forgivable.  She does dance around the subject of marriage and/or children, which is quite different than the attitude she'll have one year later in The Longbow Hunters.

Ollie recounts a story from the newspaper about a costumed vigilante known as Champion who appeared in the sky over Star City when a building fire endangered the lives of a crew of construction workers.  As firefighters risked life and limb to save the workers Champion flies right by them... and continues to fly past them.  He flies down to the street where he tackles a man carrying a briefcase.  Champion says the briefcase is very valuable; he was hired to retrieve it.

The reporter asks Champion if he thinks it's crass to be so close to people in desperate need of help and to ignore them.  He asks the reporter why she doesn't risk her life to help the people rather than leave the task to trained professionals like police and firefighters.  Apparently, Champion is only the defender of people willing to pay his fee.  As he walks off, he expresses the story's title by asking the reporter if that makes him a bad guy.

Finishing the article, Ollie talks about knocking Champion off his high horse.  Dinah redirects the conversation to herself and her superhero metamorphosis.  She changed costume because she was dissatisfied with her old look, but now she's leaning toward changing her whole modus operandi.  Despite dropping the look of the classic Black Canary, she entertains the idea of returning to the criminal underworld in which the Blonde Bombshell once operated.

By infiltrating criminals and earning a reputation as one of them, Black Canary could wage a war on crime from within.  She says it would give her more direction and make her more aggressive.  Ollie thinks it's a terrible idea because the severity of crime and criminals is much more severe than when the old Black Canary used to act this way.  He says her reputation as a crime fighter and Justice League member is too public, and she would tarnish her good name with the authorities and in her community.

Dinah continues to argue that she'd feel more productive if she infiltrated the underworld and asks if that makes her a bad guy.  Then there's a knock at the door and Dinah opens it to find her landlord, Mr. Panofsky.  He tells her that the cost of heating, utilities, basically everything has gone up and he's forced to raise the rent on her flower shop.  Dinah complains, but Panofsky explains that he's only doing what he must to pay his own expenses.  He asks if that makes him a bad guy, because apparently everyone has to ask that question in this story.

That night at the Star City dockyards, a gang anxiously awaits the arrival of shipment of illegal drugs while arguing over the cut they each deserve.  The conversation is interrupted by a metal gauntlet crashing through the wall.  A man in a hooded cloak enters the warehouse, calling himself Steelclaw and demanding his share of the money.  The hoods respond by drawing their weapons.

One of the crooks asks what will happen if they don't cut Steelclaw in on the action.  He lashes out with his metal hand and its claws, raking the man across the chest.  The man crumples to the floor but lives.  Steelclaw walks away, demanding not only part of the drug trade but the dealers' unwavering loyalty.  He asks, naturally, if that makes him a bad guy.

Four different people in this story ask if their actions make them a bad guy and yes, I think they all do except maybe for the landlord.  That Black Canary used to have a reputation as a criminal in her earliest appearances in Flash Comics is a great story thread that never saw much development after 1948.  It's great that Joey Cavalieri is delving into this area, exploring more of Dinah's character and using Ollie as a sounding board against her.

This issue also sees not one but two potential costumed enemies.  I always complain about Black Canary's lack of a rogues gallery, but Steelclaw and Champion can both be added to the list, even if Green Arrow is the titular lead of this backup strip.  Steelclaw has  a great look with the whole grim reaper visage and the claw hand.

Come back next Friday for the next part of Green Arrow and Black Canary's continuing adventures in Detective Comics...

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