Monday, August 18, 2014

Action Plus: ACTION COMICS #421

In the early 1970s, Black Canary appeared regularly in the pages of Justice League of America and pretty regularly in Green Lantern.  When the adventures of the Hard Travelin' Heroes got cancelled, Black Canary popped up in a few other places, like issues of Adventure Comics and The Brave and the Bold.

After Green Lantern ended, Green Arrow joined the "Action Plus" feature of Action Comics, which alternated backup stories starring the Emerald Archer, the Atom, and Human Target.  Black Canary made numerous guest appearances in her boyfriend's strip, sometimes in her costumed identity, and sometimes as civilian florist, Dinah Lance.

Action Comics #421 is cover dated February 1973 but came out December 28, 1972, according to Mike's Amazing World of DC Comics.  The lead Superman story is written by Cary Bates with art by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson and a cover by Nick Cardy.

The Green Arrow strip entitled "The Headline Maker" is written by Elliot S. Maggin with pencils by Sal Amendola and inks by Dick Giordano.

Swinging onto the burning theater, Green Arrow kicks open the door to the upper balcony to free the patrons trapped inside.  They're still stuck on the upper floor, however, so Ollie fires off some trick arrows that create a safety net on the street below.  He sets an example for the less than enthusiastic civilians by leaping out the window and landing safely on the net below.

After ensuring the theater-goers are safe, Green Arrow makes his exit, dodging the show's press agent.  He ducks away and changes into his private citizen garb as Oliver Queen.  Then he heads out to meet Dinah the day before she opens her store called Pretty Bird Flower Shoppe.

Ollie takes off to find someone to advertise her story, leaving Dinah behind to clean up the mess he made by knocking over the potted plant.  Dinah watches Ollie leave, wondering why she loves him, or if she does, since she can't bring herself to form the L-word.

On his way across town, Ollie recognizes a mob hit-man named Lucas Branson.  Ollie follows Branson down into the subway and spies on the assassin.  Branson uncovers a tape in a phone booth, plays the recording, and hears the details of his next target.  As Branson goes back upstairs to the street, though, Ollie uses a siren-arrow to spook the hit-man and send him running back to the subway train.

Ollie calls the Star City Herald and tells them Green Arrow will capture Lucas Branson in front of the Pretty Bird Flower Shoppe.  He follows Branson on the train and tips off a beat cop as to the hood's identity, but Branson gets away from the cop and goes up to the street.  Ollie changes into his Green Arrow outfit and confronts Branson on the street in front of Dinah's store.

Green Arrow fires an arrow at Branson's gun, disarming the man.  As Dinah, the cops, and the Herald photographer converge on the street, Green Arrow takes out the mob enforcer.

So no Black Canary action in this issue of Action, but at least Dinah got to put Ollie in his place at times with a few well-placed smart-ass comments.  Plus, she looks gorgeous and foxy rendered by Amendola and Giordano.

The real weird part of the story, though, is when Ollie points out the mobster to the police officer in the subway.  Ollie says he's giving the cops the chance to make the arrest and get the glory, but that seems counter to his agenda, and also dangerous.  What if Branson panicked at the sight of the cop like he did at the sound of police sirens?  What if Branson killed the subway cop because Ollie pointed him out?  I don't think that would make Ollie culpable of the death of a police officer, but it would be a little ethically smudgy.

Come back next Monday for another tale of Green Arrow and Black Canary in Action Comics...

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