Friday, July 18, 2014

Pretty Bird: DETECTIVE COMICS #561

Previously in Detective Comics...

Detective Comics #561 starred Batman and Robin in a story by Doug Moench with art by Gene Colan and a cover by Ed Hannigan.  Green Arrow and Black Canary teamed up in a backup strip titled "In the Grip of Steelclaw" written by Joey Cavalieri and drawn by Jerome K. Moore.

The story opens with Black Canary putting a hurt on two minor drug pushers at the Star City Harbor. She's on her own and well aware that Green Arrow would disapprove of her aggressive approach to climbing up the criminal ladder.  She doesn't care, though; she wants to bring down Star City's underworld from within and this is how she's going to get inside.

Black Canary beats one of the pushers and dangles him over the edge of the wharf.  She grills him on the influx of heroin coming into the city, and he dishes on a mysterious man named Steelclaw who has been taking over the drug trade.  Black Canary drops the pusher into the water and warns the remaining hood not to get in her way and not to even think about making a play in Star City without cutting Black Canary in on the action.

From there she heads to Ye Olde Sail Shop where she wonders why the criminals have been so quick to confess to her.  She considers the possibility that her Canary Cry has some sort of hypnotic effect on the men.

Steelclaw wants more than a mere fifty percent of the action and demands that his lackeys tell him who is bringing the heroin into Star City.  They tell him it's Marty Costa, a real-estate developer who resents the fact that zoning laws prevent him from building more than housing on his land.  Costa plans to turn his own buildings into low-income housing and then flood the area with drugs so the city will grant him permission to redevelop his own way.

Steelclaw asks the lackeys why they think the Mayor of Star City will let Costa get away with this.  The men laugh at the mention of the mayor and inform Steelclaw that Costa has a plan to kidnap the mayor's son if he makes any attempt to stop Costa's plan.  Steelclaw is noticeably taken aback by this news, and even blurts out "Brucie" the name of the mayor's son.  Why would Steelclaw know the mayor's son's name?  And why refer to him so familiarly as Brucie?

We don't know because at that moment, Black Canary gives away her position by coming down creaky stairs.  She announces to Steelclaw and the others that she wants in on the drug action and any move they make against Costa.  Steelclaw isn't happy about welcoming her into the game.  He opens his cloak and sprays the room with knockout gas.  Black Canary is rendered unconscious because that's what happens always.

Elsewhere in Star City, Green Arrow is out on patrol hoping to find Black Canary when he comes across a trio of kids dangling from a faulty elevator at a construction site.  Green Arrow fires three zip-line arrows into the elevator and the kids swing down to safety.  Moments later, the elevator car crashes to the ground as Champion comes flying out with a sophisticated looking antenna dish in his possession.

Champion tells Green Arrow that he had enough time to "rescue" the dish for the company that will pay him handsomely for salvaging their property.  Green Arrow is disgusted that Champion saved the dish while the kids would have died were it not for him.

Else-elsewhere, a street man plays a game of chess in front of a group of spectators.  Actually, he's playing three chess games and wins all of them at the same time, confounding his opponents and the crowd of onlookers.  A white-haired woman steps out of the crowd and hands the chess master a business card, telling him to give her a call if he wants to make some money.

Aside from the last page with the chess player that comes out of nowhere--I don't know what that's about--aside from that, the issue is a lot of fun.  Black Canary got to kick ass and pretend she's a dangerous criminal upstart.  Then she gets captured, because tradition!

I can't wait for Champion to get his comeuppance from Green Arrow; finally, Ollie's self-righteousness has an worthy opposite with an interesting gimmick.  I still get a kick out of Steelclaw.  His look is simple but that's what makes it work.  Will the next issue reveal his connection to the mayor?  We'll have to wait and see.

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

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