Thursday, July 10, 2014

Society Dame: Justice Society of America #2

Justice Society of America #2 is written by Len Strazewski with art by Grant Miehm and a cover, once again, by Tom Lyle featuring Black Canary and Solomon Grundy.  I forgot to mention it last time, but this series is edited by Brian Augustyn along with Mike Gold, who edited Black Canary's miniseries, her ongoing series, and her first arc in Action Comics Weekly.  The issue is cover dated May 1991 and hit the shelves in March.

"Vengeance from the Stars Chapter 2: The Sack of Gotham" begins with Alan Scott addressing the public, not in the guise of Green Lantern but in his role as managing editor of Gotham Broadcasting Channel.  He informs the public of the intermittent power outages all across the country even as the television we're watching is boosted from a store by looters taking advantage of the blackout in Gotham.

The looters are pretty confident that Gotham's police force is overworked this night and there is no one who can catch them in the act of stealing.  They are, of course, wrong.

The first of the criminals, Rocco, comes at Black Canary with a switchblade; she breaks his arm.  The other two try and attack her together; she uses their own force against each other and puts them down.    She leaves the three looters tied to a telephone pole, and then as she's getting back on her motorcycle, a distress call comes over the police radio frequency.

Police report a burglary at the Gotham Museum, then the cop on the radio begins screaming in terror and firing his weapon.  At her current location, Black Canary isn't far from the museum so she heads out on her bike.  By the time she arrives there, the lights have gone out in the city again, but her ride's headlight illuminates an overturned police cruiser in front of the museum.

Inside the museum, the first thing Black Canary sees is a security guard whose neck was broken.  She follows the killers' trail into the Ancient Egypt wing of the museum while mentally noting her like of living things like flowers and her dislike of dusty, dead things like everything in this museum.

She sneaks up on a group of criminals standing around a display of the Crown of Cheops.  The leader says this is the relic they're supposed to bring back to their Master; he smashes the display case with a pistol.  That's when Black Canary makes her presence known.  She draws their attention (and gunfire) and then kicks over a sarcophagus, causing two of the shooters to scatter or fall.

With some more fancy footwork and a pun ("Does your mummy know you do this?" Hilarious...), she takes down the leader of the crew.  Two of them trap her behind a model of a pyramid; she sneaks inside and then pops out when they don't see her, managing to clobber them both.

She walks over to the Crown of Cheops to try to figure out why the crooks were so interested in it.  She knows the relic is too well known to be sold after they made off with it.  A glance at the item description on the display case mentions that Cheops was somewhat of an astrologer for his time and is believed to be one of the first worshipers of celestial beings.  Hmm... that sounds a bit like what the mysterious Master is interested in.

That's when Black Canary is spotted by another hood... and Solomon Grundy!

Yes, Grundy calls her "Bird Lady" and the other hood refers to her as "The Lady Crime Fighter".  Pretty impressive, huh?

When Grundy throws a priceless relic at Black Canary, hoping to kill her, the other hood slaps him and warns him not to damage anything of value in the room.  Grundy slaps the man back, only he carries enough force that he probably killed the guy.  Then Grundy stalks the prone Black Canary, ready to pounce on her.

Meanwhile, at the Mt. Pride Observatory, former Starman Ted Knight is still a captive slave of the mysterious Master.  Said Master tells Ted that the Flash failed in his attempt to stop Orion last issue; Orion has siphoned off energy from all the nearby power plants, plunging the nation into darkness.  The master holds Ted's Cosmic Rod and throws down a fake wig, revealing that he was the alleged crazy man prophesying doom during the observatory's grand opening.

Ted Knight, stuck in a wheelchair, can only despair as his captor uses the Cosmic Rod to fire a burst of energy into the sky that transforms into the shape of Sagittarius.

Back in the Gotham Museum, Black Canary taunts Solomon Grundy as he moves in for the kill.  She has the advantage of speed and knows how to keep him off balance, but only for so long.  She tries to club him with ancient weapons and relics, but that doesn't have much effect on Grundy other than ticking him off.

However strong Grundy is, however invulnerable, Black Canary is a master of martial arts and she expertly redirects his size and momentum, flipping him into one wall after another.  At last he makes a dive for her and she manages to propel him right through a second story window and down to the alley below.

Pumped up on the thrill of victory, Black Canary goes down to the alley, brimming with confidence over her rout of the feared Solomon Grundy.  Of course, her over-confidence proves her undoing as Grundy wakes up and throws her into a wall.  (This fight reminded me of the duel between The Viper and the Mountain in a season 4 episode of Game of Thrones, though thankfully it didn't end nearly as horrifically as that.)

Even after she's thrown into the wall, Black Canary has enough of her strength and smarts to counter attack before Grundy crushes her head like a piece of fruit.

As Black Canary climbs to her feet, she's lit up by the headlights of a police cruiser driving down the alley.  She doesn't see Solomon Grundy get up until it's too late; he hurls her across the alley into the wall again.  The cops get out of the car and open fire on Grundy, but their bullets have no effect.  He knocks over the squad car and sends the police running away for backup.

Black Canary stands up and challenges Solomon Grundy to another round, but the monster is distracted by the vibrant light shining in the sky above them.  Black Canary tries taking on Grundy, but she's knocked unconscious by the revived gang she fought inside the museum.  Naturally, I mean, Black Canary always gets knocked unconscious!

The leader tells his boys to pack Black Canary away in a crate with the rest of their stolen loot.  Meanwhile, in the sky above Gotham City, Alan Scott--now dressed as Green Lantern--defends his television studio from Sagittarius.

Yeah, so this issue is basically one long Black Canary fight scene and it kicks all kinds of ass.  We see her take out the looters on the street pretty easily.  She has to be a bit more crafty and rely on her environment when she takes on the armed robbers in the museum.  Then she must call on all her wits and reserves to hold her own against the supernatural might that is Solomon Grundy.  Given how absurdly outclassed she is, Black Canary handles herself remarkably well against Grundy.  This is the kind of Black Canary action that proves her quality and worthiness to the ranks of Justice Society of America.

My favorite moment is when she has already been clobbered, she has broken ribs, and Grundy just sent two police running for their lives after they emptied their guns at him.  She doesn't cower; she doesn't call for backup.  She stands up Solomon Grundy and challenges him yet again.  Earlier in the issue, the wounded cop warned her not to go in the museum by herself but she did anyway, because she is a hero and she's going to fight evil no matter what.

Come back Monday for the next chapter of Justice Society of America...

No comments:

Post a Comment