Friday, February 28, 2014

Pretty Bird: DETECTIVE COMICS #550

Every Friday, I review a comic or backup feature showcasing Black Canary and her longtime love interest, Green Arrow.  Last week, I looked at the first of a two-part story that began in Detective Comics #549 and concludes here in #550.

The seven-page backup story, "Night Olympics Part 2" is written by Alan Moore with art by Klaus Janson.  Once again, I present it uncut for my readers, because Alan Moore and Klaus Janson!

In this part, as with with the last, Moore uses allusions to Olympic games and competitions and, in particular, the pageantry associated with them in his depiction of super heroic exploits.  The average adventure of a costumed crime fighter is a game, according to Moore's script here.  And the game gets deadly when one participant--the criminal--breaks the rules.

Pete Lomax, the archer who doesn't wear a costume or use a name like Arrowman, targets the heroes specifically and hurts Dinah before Ollie can act.  Pete doesn't announce himself like one of Batman or the Flash's rogues until after he's drawn blood.  But when confronted with the actual reality of just how good a hero like Green Arrow is, Pete has no escape except to faint.

I really enjoyed this story.  I like how even though Black Canary gets taken down pretty easily, she still wants to pull the arrow out and help Ollie fight.  I like how Ollie doesn't give in to fear and rage; he never loses control or suggests that he'll kill Pete Lomax.  He uses his "powers" to terrify Pete with his real talent.  I also got a kick out of the return of Joey, the hard luck crook who freaks out at the sight of superheroes just as he's about to be released from the hospital.

"Night Olympics" is a great short story.  To my knowledge, this two-parter has never been collected, which is surprising given the popularity and profitability of Alan Moore's name.  If you can't find a copy in the store, this issue of 'Tec is available on ComiXology for $1.99 U.S.  It also includes a Batman story by Doug Moench and Pat Broderick about Batman trying to help a victim of child abuse who has grown into an abusive criminal lowlife with nowhere to go but down.

Come back next Friday for more of Green Arrow and Black Canary!

Thursday, February 27, 2014


Darwyn Cooke is one of my favorite artists and his love letter to the Silver Age, The New Frontier, is one of my favorite stories ever published by Marvel or DC.  There's nothing I don't like about the story, but as the manager of a Black Canary fan blog, Cooke gives me slim-to-nothing to work with.  Black Canary appears in only three panels in the entire story.  She has no dialogue or action; she's merely a background extra.

However, in 2008, DC published Justice League: The New Frontier Special to celebrate the direct-to-DVD release of the animated adaptation of Cooke's story.  (I got a copy of this story packaged with the New Frontier action figure box set, an unexpected birthday present two years ago.)

This special contains some wonderful new material, including a "lost chapter" from New Frontier written and drawn by Darwyn Cooke, showing an amazing battle between Batman and Superman.  There's a one-page prologue starring Rip Hunter.  There's a great six-page Robin and Kid-Flash team-up by Cooke and Dave Bullock.

And then there's a story of Wonder Woman and Black Canary.  Written by Cooke with art by his longtime inker and collaborator, J. Bone, the story puts the Amazon Warrior and the Blonde Bombshell at the forefront of the Women's Liberation Movement.

I love this story!  The portrayal of Wonder Woman is a little more abrasive than I'd prefer, but it's played mostly for laughs so I'm fine with her being so staunchly anti-men here.  Black Canary is little more than a sounding board for Diana's rants, but her occasional commentary is nice and comedic as well.  Dinah's best moment is that her superhero costume with black and fishnets is actually perfect camouflage inside the Playboy Club.

I love the references to historical figures and events, such as buxom Hollywood starlet Jayne Mansfield and feminist journalist Gloria Steinem, the music of Charlie Mingus, the "bra burning" that came to symbolize the movement, even if the historical accuracy is rather dubious.  Then of course, there is the brief and brilliantly awkward appearance of Bruce Wayne, who needs to be shamed out of the club by his female colleagues in crime fighting.

All told, this is a fun and funny story, and it makes me want to re-read The New Frontier for the umpteenth time!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Back in Action: ACTION COMICS #629


Every Wednesday, I review an issue of Action Comics Weekly featuring a backup story starring Black Canary among others.  Each installment of Back in Action will look at Dinah's story and touch on my favorite or least favorite moments from the rest of the strips in these issues.

The cover to ACW #629, by Dick Rockwell, depicts the shadowy Mockingbird revealing his identity to the Secret Six.  It's a pretty iconic shot and it should get me excited for the story inside, but this cover lacks any sense of shock or excitement.  Mostly because the Secret Six don't look all that shocked or excited about this unveiling.

Black Canary

"Knock 'Em Dead" Part 6: written by Sharon Wright, pencilled by Randy Duburke, inked by Pablo Marcos, lettered by Steve Haynie, colored by Gene D'Angelo, and edited by Robert Greenberger.  Once again, Black Canary's story is placed second in reading order.

This chapter picks up where last week's cliffhanger left off: Dinah Lance was delivering floral set pieces to a local theater staging a production of Peter Pan and the Pirates, when it suddenly appeared as though a knife wielding maniac lunged at her with deadly intent.  And creeping up behind her is a man with a nasty-looking hook.

Elsewhere in Seattle, Ken Glazier learns from the local news that Rich, the drug dealing music shop owner was killed.  Glazier ignores a call from the Red Cross asking for a blood donation, insisting that he cannot donate blood.  Then he calls a police hotline to report Deborah's involvement in Rich's murder.  Meanwhile, at the morgue, Lt. Cameron connects Rich to the death of Walt Sarno, figuring the same woman to be responsible for both.  The coroner mentions that Rich would have died soon anyway; his blood work showed he had contracted AIDS.  Then a local uniform tells Cameron about an anonymous tip from their hotline.

Back at the theater, Dinah whirls around and knocks out the man with the hook hand, who it turns out was just an actor playing Captain Hook in the show.  The director calls cut and brings up the lights, revealing the floating knifeman as an actress named Ellen Jamerson playing Peter Pan.  Ellen goes by the name "Cat".

After they unload the flowers from Dinah's van, the director asks her to stick around.  Dinah watches part of their rehearsal; she's quite impressed by Cat's performance as a boy, her ability to expertly mimic mannerisms of someone else.  We learn that Ellen/Cat is an out-of-towner, temporarily visiting Seattle, and that she's here because of her daughter.

Later, Dinah dons the costume of the Black Canary and returns to Rich's music store to question Rich's roommate, Joe.  After she puts the fear in him, Joe gives up Deb's full name, Deborah Tilden, and that Rich's heroin distribution was conducted from a United Food warehouse.  When Black Canary gets to the warehouse, she sees Deb, but is surprised she's not blonde.  She realizes that Deb must be or was wearing a wig when she killed Walt Sarno.

Deb enters the warehouse to pick up her heroin, only to find a police officer holding a gun on her.  Is this a police ambush...or something more sinister?

[Click the images below to enlarge.]

In this chapter, we get to see both Dinah Lance and Black Canary in action.  Her quick reflexes in the theater offer a little comic relief as she mistakenly beats up an actor.  As the Canary, her interrogation of Joe is quick and ruthless, the sort of questioning that would make Batman proud.

The mystery deepens as we wonder what is the connection between Ken Glazier, Walt Sarno and Rich Malone.  Why is Deb targeting them each for death?  Or is she?  Maybe she's being set up to take the fall for their murders, but then why?  The biggest reveal for anyone paying attention--because it's not made explicit in the text--is that Ellen Jamerson, also known as Cat, is the same woman who was following Deb earlier.  So Cat is an actress with a talent for disappearing into her role?  Suspicious...

The Rest

This week's Green Lantern story by James Owsley and M.D. Bright is a little more focused than last issue, but it still feels like a lot of filler.  Hal Jordan spends most of the eight pages straining to keep a building from collapsing on innocent civilians and firefighters.  As he does so, Captain Atom finds the alien building his shrine-ship below the building.  Atom tries to apologize for lashing out before, that there was a simple misunderstanding.  But the alien hits him and that starts them up fighting again.  Captain Atom seems to destroy the shrine-ship and knock the alien out, but by then Green Lantern has returned and wants to fight Atom.

In Secret Six by Marty Pasko and Frank Springer, Mockingbird reveals what I imagine would be the answers to all my questions had I been following this story along from the beginning.

Roger Stern and Curt Swan's two-page Superman strip takes a new turn as Clark Kent and Bob Galt, the leader of a fellowship of Superman worshipers are prevented from interrogating their attackers when the desert floor swallows them and takes them to the secret lair of a woman named Mother Tierra.  She can manipulate the sand and stone, and she's none to pleased to see Clark Kent until Bob shows her the message that Superman sent him with heat vision advising him to trust Kent.

In the latest chapter of Nightwing & Speedy by Cherie Wilkerson and Tom Mandrake, which is the second straight issue with no trace of Nightwing, Roy Harper arrives at his lodging in Ireland only to find a pair of little girls squatting there.  Roy learns a little more about the Friends of the Empire and their rival, the Sanas.  The girls' parents were victims of the conflict between the Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland and Roy has inadvertently brought more danger right to them.

This chapter of Marty Pasko and Rick Burchett's Blackhawk is all sex and violence, but unfortunately no cool aerial combat.  Jan Prohaska has fistfight with special agent Claiborne after they learn Marcia died during her surgery.  Later, he goes back to his office, gets drunk, and sleeps with Natalie Reed.  Then they both get summoned to return to Washington, D.C.  Also, there's a bit with Nazis, including a blonde female Nazi officer sporting some impressive cleavage.  Sexy Nazis?!  To quote Django Unchained: "You had my curiosity. Now you have my attention."

Next week, I'll look at Action Comics Weekly #630, which concludes this story of the Secret Six and furthers the adventures of Black Canary, Superman, Green Lantern, Nightwing and Blackhawk.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Birds of Prey: Wolves (Oct 1997)

Four months after the publication of the one-shot Birds of Prey: Revolution, the continuing, albeit sporadic-at-the-time, partnership of Black Canary and Oracle returned for another one-off story that looked like it would kill the series before it really started.

Series creator Chuck Dixon scripts Birds of Prey: Wolves with the fourth interior artist in as many stories.  The only commonality between the original BoP special, the "Manhunt" miniseries, "Revolution" and now "Wolves" is the sweet cover art by Gary Frank. The artist proving interiors this time was no fresh-faced kid but rather longtime comics veteran and one-time vice president of DC, Dick Giordano.  Giordano, of course, had a pretty familiar history with Black Canary over the years as both an inker and penciler--and I'm sure I'll get to most or all of those renderings eventually.

The last time we saw Black Canary and Oracle at the end of their mission to Santa Prisca, the ladies weren't doing too well in their professional relationship.  Oracle has a serious problem with Canary's
freestyle form of operation, which frequently leads her into greater danger.  Dinah's improvisational approach to her missions, on the other hand, resulted in greater gains for the good guys and more damage to the bad guys.  They have a legitimate philosophical difference, exacerbated by the fact that Oracle thinks of Canary as her agent--that Canary works for her.

This grievance spills over into the current mission, where Black Canary is fighting for her life against some reprogrammed construction robots in a Kozuitu automotive factory.  A Japanese terrorist group has taken over the plant.  Canary is dodging the deadly robots, asking Oracle to shut them down via her mastery of all things electronic.  Oracle chastises her for her stubborn refusal to comprehend basic computer systems.

At the last second, Oracle takes control of the engineering robots and turns them against Hodo, the leader of the terror group.  Black Canary keeps her down and then oversees the police mopping up the terrorists.

But while Canary's fight with deadly arc-welders is over, her fight with Oracle is just heating up.

Oracle criticizes Black Canary's lack of preparation before going into battle as a result of her time spent with Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow.  Canary defends Ollie's staunch liberalism and suggests that if she and Oracle are at such ideological odds, maybe they should take a break from each other.

Yep.  They break up.

Dinah takes her earrings and necklace comms devices and Barbara loses her appetite.

Later, Dinah Lance goes to a video store, flirts with the store clerk just enough to make him uncomfortable, and rents a classic movie that promptly puts her to sleep as soon as she gets home.  She's woken by a knock at the door... and the last man she expected to see.

Er, what?  Dinah was married?!!  To a guy named Windrow?

Meanwhile, Barbara Gordon goes shopping at a bookstore and lashes out at the clerk who offers to help, because being in a wheelchair doesn't make Babs helpless.  Her response to the woman is a little more than defensive; it's harsh.  As Babs goes to her car, she's accosted by a trio of muggers who want to take her ride.  And not the wheelchair.

Back in Dinah's apartment, we learn a little about Craig Windrow, Dinah's ex-husband.  They were married very briefly in college, and he was pretty much a loser then.  But it looks like getting dumped by Dinah was the kick in the butt Craig needed to get some focus.  Now he runs an accounting firm and his life seems to be on track.

Except for that the Ukrainian mafia wants to kill him.

Meanwhile, Babs puts the beatdown on her would-be assailants, until one of them hits her with a trashcan, pushing her chair into the street in the way of oncoming traffic.  A speeding car slams on the brakes but still hits her chair, sending Babs sprawling onto the street.

The driver gets out of the car and helps her while cops pursue the muggers.  Babs is shaken and embarrassed, but the driver who struck her is a beautiful adonis named Drew Fahrnum, so that kind of makes up for almost dying.  He offers to take her to lunch and she accepts.  He seems way too clean and handsome to be true.

Back at Dinah's place, she has changed out of her bathrobe but into civilian clothes.  She and Craig race out of her apartment as the Ukranian hoods throw grenades, shoot guns, and drive cars at them.

During her lunch date with Drew, Babs admits to having a fight with her friend/coworker, and that it's kind of spoiled her mood all day.  But she's starting to reassess her view on the working relationship she has with Dinah.  She even refers to Dinah as "labor" and herself as "management."  Meanwhile, Drew listens to all of this attentively and says the appropriately charming things at the right times.

He's definitely bad.

Dinah and Craig race across the subway platform and jump into a train just as its leaving the station.  For now, they seem to have eluded the hoods chasing them.  Dinah asks once again what Craig did to earn a death mark.  He insists that they were a client until he found out what they really represented and when he tried to sever the deal, they started threatening him.

Craig apologizes for getting Dinah mixed up in his dangerous life, but she accepts it.  She has a weakness for dangerous men and/or fools, and she's happy he turned to her for help after all these years.  They kiss and it seems like they will be rekindling their relationship.

Babs and Mr. Too-Good-To-Be-Drew continue their date as he walks her home, then invites himself up to her apartment.  When they get there, however, the three muggers who tried to take her van earlier that day are waiting.  They work for Drew as part of his way too elaborate plan that makes absolutely not goddamn sense.

On the subway, the Ukrainian hoods catches Dinah and Craig and they reveal that Craig actually stole a computer file with the mob's bank codes and accounts and access to billions of their untraceable money.  Dinah doesn't appreciate being used.

She pounds the hoods into unconsciousness, and then confronts Craig.  He admits to taking the mob's money and then using her for protection, but offers to split the blood money with her.  She throws a pistol that knocks him out.

Meanwhile, Babs shuts the lights down in her apartment and proceeds to take down all four of her intruders in the dark using night vision goggles and some handy little weapons (and misdirection).  When the Gotham City Police show up to investigate how the four criminals ended up captured, Babs says it must have been Batman.

Later, Dinah puts her comms devices back on and reunites with Oracle.

For Black Canary fans, the biggest thing to come out of this issue is the revelation that Dinah Lance was married ever-so briefly when she was in college.  And that her husband was not a member of the costumed community.  He was just a young loser who grew up to become a slightly older loser.  He'd never been mentioned before, nor will he be shown again until a decade later in Black Canary's second miniseries.

Besides that, the story was flimsy.  This was basically Chuck Dixon spending some downtime with the ladies whilst showing that these women never have any true downtime.  The men they're attracted to--the men they fall for--are bad for them, so the safest most compatible relationship is actually with each other and their crime fighting partnership.  They had better settle their philosophical differences and learn to work together because everyone else will let them down.

That's kind of the message Dixon is presenting here, but I don't think I buy it.  I have no idea why Barbara would be so trusting of this Drew guy right away, but what's beyond that is the absurdity that is his real criminal nature.  The three hoods work for him?  So he arranged for them to rob the wheelchair woman's special van?  Did he know that she would kick their asses?  How did he know she would end up in the street in front of his car, and how did he know he wouldn't drive over her and kill her?  Why would he bother taking her out to dinner to rob her apartment later?  How would he know what kind of valuable stuff is there that it would be worth the time and preparation for this ridiculous plot?

Dinah, likewise, comes off as equally naive by trusting her loser ex-husband yet again.  I get that she has a soft spot for a certain kind of man, and that some people have blinders on when it comes to exes, but she should have spotted his lies a mile away.  It also feels too contrived that she just happened to have an ex-husband we've never seen or heard of before.

The art is decent but nothing spectacular.  Dick Giordano drew some freakin' gorgeous Black Canary stories.  At this later stage of his career, his work wasn't as impressive.  On the other hand, he didn't have much to work with.  Dinah is only in her Black Canary costume (even though I don't like that version of her costume) for the first couple pages and the action beats are pretty pedestrian.

Birds of Prey: Wolves isn't a bad comic, but it's by far the weakest entry in the series up to this point.

Come back next Tuesday for the next one-shot in the series, featuring the team-up of Black Canary and... Batgirl?!!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Black Canary by Paolo Rivera

Paolo Rivera has a magical talent for rendering characters and backgrounds that look just like slightly airbrushed photographs from the 1940s and 1950s.  It makes total sense that Marvel would tap him to retell Captain America's origin in Mythos: Captain America, part of a series that recounted the formation of many Silver Age heroes.  

You can see a ton of Rivera's sketches, sequentials, and step-by-steps at his Google+ page here.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Golden Oldie: Comic Cavalcade #25

1948 was a pretty good year for Black Canary, publishing wise anyway.  In twelve months, she appeared in nineteen different comics, which was pretty good for a female hero not named Wonder Woman.  February of that year, in particular, saw Black Canary popping up in three different books.  First, she stepped out from behind Johnny Thunder's shadow and launched her own solo feature in the pages of Flash Comics #92.  Then she joined the Justice Society of America in All-Star Comics #39.    And she appeared in Comic Cavalcade #25 in an original tale by creators Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino!

"Tune of Terror" by Kanigher and Infantino is the second solo adventure of the Black Canary!

As country boy Phil Martin scurries away from the lamppost that shot him, a nearby mailbox dispenses noxious gas, causing him to choke and cough.  He runs down the street until he comes across a police officer.

Naturally, the cop laughs at Phil's story of the deadly lamppost and mailbox.  After the cop walks away, Phil is attacked once more, this time by a fire hydrant spouting flames at him.

Phil goes to the train station determined to leave this crazy city before it kills him.  Given the circumstances, who could blame him?  But Black Canary shows up and implores him to stick around so she can help him.

We catch up with Black Canary at the lamppost a full two hours later, one hour more than she agreed to wait for Phil.  Then abruptly he arrives and they begin to walk over a music joint called the Juke Box.  But a car follows them and a goon gets out and clubs them both over the head.

Black Canary and Phil Martin wake up tied to the famous revolving floor of the Juke Box Club.  A man named Randal who the Canary is at least familiar with admits to being behind the attempts on Phil's life so he can take ownership of the Juke Box.  He seems a little annoyed that Phil manages to escape his three "clever" deathtraps.  Maybe he should have spent his time and money on something simpler, like a person, instead of a lamppost, mailbox and fire hydrant that all shoot stuff.


Yep, you saw that right.  At this early stage in Black Canary's crime fighting career, Kanigher and Infantino thought, What the hell, let's have her control birds!  They even gave her a little chant to go along with it, like the Green Lantern's oath.  I don't know if this little gimmick would have appealed to readers of Comic Cavalcade, but they probably wouldn't find that stunt repeated in her adventures over in Flash or All-Star Comics.

As a Black Canary tale, this piece is self-contained and absent any real connection to her life established earlier this month in Flash #92.  She's never referred to by her civilian identity, Dinah Drake, nor do we see her flower shop or private investigator Larry Lance.  On the other hand, Phil Martin knows who she is when he sees her, so the character Black Canary has enough of a reputation to be identified on sight by a stranger from another town.

Aside from the flabbergasting rescue by a flock of actual black canaries and the implications it bears for the heroine, this was a really fun little story.  And maybe the first retcon for Black Canary!

Come back next Sunday for another Golden Age adventure of the Black Canary in Flash Comics #93.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Pretty Bird: DETECTIVE COMICS #549

Welcome to the first post in my new weekly segment devoted to Green Arrow and Black Canary team-ups.  Every Friday, I'll review a comic or backup feature showcasing Dinah and her longtime love interest, Oliver Queen.

To kickoff Pretty Bird Fridays, I selected a short story that first appeared in Detective Comics #549, cover dated April 1985.  It's not Ollie and Dinah's first meeting and it's not an historically momentous chapter from Green Lantern/Green Arrow or The Longbow Hunters.  But it was written by arguably the most profound writer in comics and the man who revolutionized the medium at least once.

The seven-page backup story, "Night Olympics" is written by Alan Moore with art by Klaus Janson.    I present it here uncut for my readers, because it's Alan Moore and Klaus Janson!

Naturally there's some fascinating commentary on the nature of superheroes because duh, Alan Moore.  Even in seven pages, the question of superhero's celebrity status is brought up multiple times no less than three times.  But are the heroes celebrities... or urban legends?

Joey, the first criminal we meet, has had so many ill-fated run-ins with superheroes that he has developed a kind of post-traumatic seizure disorder.  After being thwarted by Firestorm and Metamorpho, the mere sight of Green Arrow standing in Joey's way reduces him to a screaming, thrashing wreck.  Ollie exerts more energy keeping the guy from breaking his skull on the pavement than he would shooting an arrow into his hand.  (Also, what's with the cops dissing Metamorpho? Is that just flavorful dialogue, or is Moore taking a swipe at ol' Rex Mason?)

Then there are the two looters who surrender to Black Canary.  Their fear of costumed crime fighters is fueled by hearsay and local lore, by tales of Batgirl allegedly beating up a friend and the ridicule it brought them from the rest of their gang.  They're so unnerved by the idea of a superhero smacking them around that they don't even know who it is they're turning themselves in to.

Lastly we have our rogue archer, Mr. Mohawk, and his weapon-smith.  The old man thinks if Mohawk is going to get in the villain game, he needs a codename, an identity like "Arrow Man".  The garish names and costumes are part of job--literally, he figures.  But this archer seems to shirk that idea, dismissing the grandiosity of the superhero/supervillain motif in favor of deadly simplicity.  And that is what makes him most dangerous in this story.  He kills one man and it looks like he's going to kill Ollie or Dinah by the end of this chapter, and the reason is because he doesn't announce himself with puzzle games and flamboyant attire.

Is that what Alan Moore is saying with the story, that old school heroes and villains are as commonplace and predictable as people on TV?  Is that why he layers the narration with allusions to spectator sporting events, because the superhero life has become a "game" replete with rules and  contestants?  Then surely this Mohawk sporting archer is breaking the rules and upsetting the balance of the heroes' lives.

There's nothing I can say about Klaus Janson's work that hasn't been said a thousand times before by people who really know his stuff.  His Black Canary looks good as always, and this is about six months before he would redesign her costume that would become her Justice League International look.  Even without a true costume, Janson gives our villain a distinctive look with his mohawk and shirt so that the character is well defined visually even if he's not wearing Captain Cold's parka.

This is a great short story.  If you want it for yourself, the digital version is $1.99 on ComiXology.  The lead story starring Batman and Harvey Bullock by Doug Moench and Pat Broderick is pretty crazy, suggesting the Bullock's gruff, bull-in-a-China-shop behavior is a mask hiding the soul of an effete, vaguely British poet.

It ends with Bullock and Batman fighting, like, twenty members of a street gang.  Like I said, crazy.  Come back next Friday for the conclusion to this story of Green Arrow and Black Canary!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Girl Power: WONDER WOMAN #310

In the previous two issues of Wonder Woman, a gypsy survivor of the Holocaust named Zenna Persik used her powers to swap bodies with Black Canary.  This resulted in Dinah getting captured by a mad scientist bent on world domination yada yada yada, and Wonder Woman and Zenna (in Canary's body) had to go stop him.  The two-part story ended with everyone getting their bodies back and Zenna sacrificing herself to kill the mad doctor.

Wonder Woman #310: "All's Fair" is written by Dan Mishkin with art by guest penciler Mark Beachum and inks by Pablo Marcos.  It was published in December, 1983.

The story begins with Dinah and Diana playing Null-Grav Handball, the kind of competitive sport they don't play at the Winter Olympics because the athletes need access to the Justice League Satellite to play.

Black Canary calls for a timeout so she can catch her breath.  She makes the excuse that her play was disrupted by Wonder Woman dropping the bombshell that she plans to reveal her secret identity to Colonel Steve Trevor.

Woah! Waitaminute... Hippolyta bequeathed the powers and title of Wonder Woman on Artemis thousands of years ago!  Is there some kind of crisis looming in the near future that'll ret-con this little factoid?

Anyway, Wonder Woman continues the tale.  Back in Homeric times when Greece was carved up into city states, a powerful and charismatic ruler name Cleon is leading his forces across the Aegean Sea when angry waves of Poseidon wreak havoc on his fleet.  Cleon's ship is destroyed and all aboard are dumped into the sea sure to drown.

The ancient Wonder Woman, Artemis, helps the storm-tossed sailers and dives deep underwater to rescue Cleon.  She carries him to safety and flies off, but not only does Cleon owe her his life, he's quite infatuated by her beauty.  But one of Cleon's lieutenants has been possessed by Ares, the God of War, who gives him some, let's say questionable advice on romance.

Ares tells the young Amazon princess that she could be the greatest warrior queen with his support, but she rejects him and goes to see Cleon.  Eros strikes the man with an arrow of love and Cleon and Artemis give in to their passions.  They become lovers and conquerors, ravaging neighboring cities and ravishing each other.

Their lust for power consumes them so that Cleon wants Artemis to lead them to conquer her sister Amazons on Paradise Island.  Artemis refuses, though.  She will not willingly betray Queen Hippolyta--"willingly" being the key word there.

Sometime later, while they're getting it on under a tree, the Ares-possessed soldier tells Artemis and Cleon that Hippolyta has fallen in battle.  Distraught with grief, Artemis leaves Cleon and their army to sail back to the secret home of the Amazons.

Once there, she discovers that Hippolyta is alive and well.  And, of course, Cleon's fleet followed her.  The queen demands to know why Artemis would betray her sisters by bringing a hostile force to their shores.

The Amazons defend their island, and though the battle is fierce, they prove to be the superior army, killing most of the invaders.  Artemis is prepared to slay her queen when Hippolyta realizes that an insidious presence is the cause of this battle.

Hippolyta exposes Ares' manipulative involvement in the current strife.  In a rage, Artemis blames Cleon and threatens to kill him despite his protestations that he really did love her.  In the end, she cannot execute him, because she too really did love Cleon.  But the treachery of Man's World has left a permanent shame on Artemis and she flies off, abandoning her home, her people, and her lover.

This is a total filler issue, but it's a pretty enjoyable one.  Mishkin kills some time waiting for Don Heck to return to the main story, and in the meantime tells a nice little parable of love and duty.  Even though the story sounds like a perfect example of why Diana should not commit herself to Steve Trevor, she sees the opposite as true.  She sees the deception between Cleon and Artemis as their downfall.

Mark Beachum's art is pretty great throughout this story.  I can't think of what else I've seen him draw, but his style strikes me as a cross between Gene Colan and George Perez, and that's pretty high praise indeed.  His panel construction and layouts especially remind me of Perez only more freeform and spread out.  Take a look at Page 7 up above and see how he blocks the eight panels on that page.

Black Canary for her part serves as the audience and reader.  It's nice that Mishkin continued to include her after the adventures of the past two months, and Beachum makes her look terrific, but really, Dinah could have been replaced by any League member and the story wouldn't have changed.