Monday, October 29, 2012

Media Monday: DC Showcase: Green Arrow Animated Short

While Warner Bros. has been woefully inadequate--financially negligent, I might argue--at producing live action movies based on DC Comics properties, their animation studios have been consistently churning out quality cartoons and animated movies for over twenty years now.

For the last couple years, DC Animation has released a couple direct-to-video animated films a year.  A few are original stories, but most of the movies are adaptations of acclaimed stories like The Death of Superman, Batman: Year One, and The New Frontier.  Also, for some reason, they adapted a couple of Jeph Loeb's Superman/Batman stories that are... well, they are.  For a while, though, these seventy-minute movies featured ten minute animated shorts under the DC Showcase banner, giving fans of the A-list heroes like Batman and Green Lantern and chance to see characters like The Spectre and Jonah Hex.

They only produced five of these shorts, which sucks because they were some of the best work DC Animation has ever produced.  Four of the stories are available in the Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam Blu-Ray/DVD; the Superman and Captain Marvel adventure counts as a short as it's only about twenty minutes; also included are the aforementioned Jonah Hex and the Spectre showcases, as well as a Green Arrow story I'll be reviewing today.  The fifth short, featuring Catwoman, is available on the Batman: Year One movie.

I would review all of these short films, but only one features a cameo from Black Canary, so that's the one I'll review here.

DC Showcase: Green Arrow originally appeared with the Superman/Batman: Apocalypse DVD, which was an adaptation of the "Supergirl" story arc from the Superman/Batman series written by Jeph Loeb and drawn by the late Michael Turner.  They story had a few good moments, but it wasn't anything really special and the adaptation isn't much better.  I wouldn't have gotten this if I knew the Green Arrow short would be included with another movie.

The story opens with Oliver Queen stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic at Star City airport where his longtime girlfriend Dinah is set to arrive.  Those in the know are aware that Ollie is the costumed adventurer and Justice League member, Green Arrow, and Dinah is none other than Black Canary.  Ollie has an engagement ring for Dinah, but worries she'll be too disappointed in his lateness to accept.

When he finally finds a parking spot, Ollie discovers that the heavy traffic backup is due to the increased security surrounding the arrival of Princess Perdita of the Eastern European nation of Vlatava.    Ollie also recognizes a familiar face getting out of a taxi.  Using a handy Justice League app in his smartphone, Ollie identifies the man as Merlyn, one of Green Arrow's rogues.

Inside the airport terminal, the ten-year-old Princess Perdita's security detail is ambushed and slaughtered by mercenaries posing as paparazzi.  The mercs close in on the princess, ready to execute her when...

Green Arrow unloads smoke-grenade arrows and other non-lethal trick arrows to confuse the mercenaries.

From here we get seven minutes of fast-paced and truly fun action and marksmanship.  Ollie evades ambush after ambush, engages in a duelist-style bow-and-arrow shootout with Merlyn, and discovers exactly why the princess has been targeted for assassination.

Of course, there is one final ambush--one final dastardly villain, revealed to be the mastermind behind the princess' assassination.  And our heroic archer is taken out, helpless.  But not alone.  Remember why Ollie went to the airport in the first place?

Black Canary shows up to save the day.  Figuring that there's no bigger turn on for women than having to save her man from international terrorists, Ollie chooses that moment to pop the question and give Dinah the engagement ring.  With a little encouragement from the ten-year-old Perdita, Dinah accepts.

This is a really fun little short movie.  It's not a complex story or layered character piece.  It's an extended chase scene.  It's a ten-minute action scene, and it's done incredibly well.  Did it leave me with a deeper appreciation for Green Arrow?  No, but it entertained me, and if this had been my introduction to the character, I would want to learn more about him.

The animation is tight, blending the DCAU house style with a kind of dark manga fluidity, and fast, making every punch, bullet or arrow seem as dangerous as it should.  The script, for as simple a story as it is, is funny and full of gems that create a medieval adventure motif.  From the obvious comparison of Green Arrow to Robin Hood, to him rescuing a princess, to the villainous archer named Merlyn, to the final beat about queens needing consorts--and Green Arrow being a Queen, after all--there's enough of subtext to give this straight action adventure to give it a fantasy element.

This is certainly not a Black Canary story.  Her's is a cameo, really, but it's a nice one.  She gets to save the day by showing off her sonic scream Canary Cry for any viewers who might not know her.  We see just how important she is to Green Arrow ("I couldn't live with out you," he says, "literally.")  And she looks really, really damn good.

DC Showcase: Green Arrow is

  • Directed by Joaquim Dos Santos
  • Written by Greg Weisman
And features the voice talents of
  • Neal McDonough as Green Arrow/Oliver Queen
  • Malcolm McDowell as Merlyn the Magnificent
  • Ariel Winter as Princess Perdita
  • Steven Blum as Count Vertigo
  • John DiMaggio as Merc #1
  • Grey DeLisle as Black Canary
I highly recommend this animated short as a terrific Green Arrow story and a fun Black Canary cameo!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Origin of Black Canary: 2006

Back when DC was publishing 52--not the New 52, but the weekly series chronicling the year after Infinite Crisis--each issue included a backup two-page origin of a DC hero, villain or team.  Well, ComiXology has them all available for digital download for free!

Black Canary's origin, like most of them, was written by Mark Waid.  In a Word Balloon interview, Gail Simone once said that Mark Waid doesn't know how to write a bad comic book, and I tend to agree with her.  Waid is my favorite comic writer so it's nice to see him script this two page little origin for Dinah Laurel Lance.

The art, which surprised me, is supplied by the legendary Howard Chaykin, who blew my young, impressionable mind with Black Kiss.  His depiction of Dinah captures her physical strength, her loveliness, but also a sense of fun.  Plus, he draws her kicking Deathstroke in the crotch, and really, what else do you need?

So, since the origin is free and ComiXology and was once, if not now, available for free on DC's website, I'll include it here for your pleasure.  Enjoy!

[click to enlarge]

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Out of Context #1

From Birds of Prey (vol. 1) #1, art by Greg Land

Every Thursday, Flowers & Fishnets provide a panel that--when taken out of context from the rest of the page--may be funny, suggestive, or just dumb.

Let's Get Organized

After a couple weeks of random, haphazard posting, I have finally come up with an organized model for this blog's hopefully daily updates.  Each day of the week will be dedicated to a different category (or two) of posts.

  • "Canary Comics for ___" - On weeks when new issues of Birds of Prey, Team 7, or other DC titles featuring Black Canary, including trades and collections are due out, I'll give the solicitation from DC's website.  Likewise, when DC reveals info and previews for upcoming months, those will be posted here.
  • "Media Monday" - On bye-weeks when no new Dinah appearances are anticipated, I'll look at non-comics related iterations of Black Canary, like her appearances in such animated series as Justice League Unlimited, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and the DC Showcase: Green Arrow short film; I'll also look at her live-action appearances in Smallville, Arrow, and Birds of Prey, none of which I've ever seen.
  • "Trauma Tuesday" - While reading Dinah's first appearances in The Black Canary Archives Volume 1, I noticed that in almost every issue of Flash Comics, she got knocked unconscious and captured.  Like clockwork, this brain damage-inducing injury happened every month, and it became hard to suspend my disbelief.  And for some bizarre reason, I thought it would make a fun feature for this blog, so every Tuesday, I'll post an image of Dinah being hit, kicked, drugged or otherwise injured.
  • "Whatever Wednesday" - While hump day is spent reading new comics, I'll add new, random images of Black Canary every week.  These could be any image from her history throughout the decades, spotlights of my favorite artists' renditions of Dinah, commentaries, or cosplay pics.
  • "Out of Context" - Panels featuring Black Canary that--when separated from the issue--may be funny, suggestive, or just dumb.
  • "Playdate" - Images of my DC Universe Classics Black Canary action figure interacting with other toys.  I don't have Robot Chicken's budget, but I have soul.
  • "Review ____" - A recap and review of Black Canary comics, new and old.
I hope this schedule works to eliminate the randomness of this blog's first two weeks.  And I hope it gives you something to look forward to at least once a week.

Choke up, BC fans!


That sucks. Okay, I still need to work on a clever signature for my editorial posts.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Jim Lee's Black Canary from ASBRBW

I never read All Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder but I've heard it's pretty godawful.  There was a time when a Batman project written by Frank Miller and drawn by Jim Lee would have sent me into a fit of rapturous glee.  But that time was fifteen years ago.

Because I haven't read it, I cannot comment with authority on the quality of the story or its characterization of Black Canary.  However, I have heard that she is not treated with the level of love and care that other writers treat her.  Jim Lee's depiction of Dinah is eye-catching certainly, maybe as sexy as ever in purely physical way (as "physically sexy" as a 2-D comic character can be).  But I've also heard that Miller degrades her to a cigar smoking, overly sexualized, and sexually harassed bartender who takes to beating up the men who objectify her just like the writer and artist do.  And then she beats up every other man in sight until she sees Batman, who she falls in love with.


I could look at the picture above for a long time, but what I've heard about Dinah's interpretation in All Star Batman just makes me angry.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Meltzer-era Justice League by Ed Benes

At the conclusion of Brad Meltzer's first arc on Justice League of America (vol. 2), Black Canary was elected Chairperson of the team.  Of course, that didn't necessarily make her the leader...

Friday, October 19, 2012

Black Canary and JSA by Alan Davis

The version of Dinah's costume that appeared in the JSA title written by James Robinson, David Goyer and later Geoff Johns was never my favorite, but I love me some Alan Davis!

From JSA #1, art by Alan Davis.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Black Canary Solicits for January

Birds of Prey #16
On sale JANUARY 23 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
• The team gets a deadly new member in the form of Strix, a former Talon from the Court of Owls!
• Who is she and what does her appearance mean for the rest of the Birds?
• Plus: Something goes terribly wrong for Black Canary.

Team 7 #4
1:25 B&W Variant cover by TYLER KIRKHAM and BATT
On sale JANUARY 16 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the Order Form for details.
• At last, it’s the secret origin of Deathstroke!
• The team clashes with Eclipso – and Slade Wilson!
• Witness the beginnings of the Black Room from Justice League!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Canary Comics for 10/17/12

Solicitations for comics and collections featuring Black Canary this week:

Birds of Prey #13

  • The team crosses paths with a cult of assassins that has ties to Katana!
  • A new arc starts in the wake of a team member's betrayal...
    • Written by Duane Swierczynski
    • Art by Romano Molenaar
    • Cover by Ben Oliver
    • U.S. Price $2.99

Friday, October 12, 2012

Costume Changes Through the Years

Newsarama used to be a site that offered informative and insightful, well, news about the comics publishing world.  About a year ago, the content shifted to a seemingly endless unveiling of recycled Top 10 lists that are as subjective as they are asinine.

Great, worse, worst, better.
Other than Vaneta Rogers, the only contributor to the site I follow is a gentleman named Alan Kistler, whose regular column "Agent of S.T.Y.L.E." chronicles the visual history of superheroes and how their costumes change over time.  In March of last year, Agent of S.T.Y.L.E. examined the "Hyper-Sonic Fashion" of Black Canary.

Cover art by Brian Bolland--channeling Howard Chaykin, I think.
Unfortunately, some of the image links have broken down in the nineteen months since the article was originally published, but you can still get a sense of Dinah's costume continuity.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Canary Comics for 10/10/12

Solicitations for comics and collections featuring Black Canary this week:

Team 7 #1

  • Learn how the secret wars of the New 52 were fought by TEAM 7!
  • Early adventures of Deathstroke, Black Canary, Grifter, Amanda Waller, Steve Trevor and others!
  • This issue: Battlefield Gamorra!
    • Written by Justin Jordan
    • Art by Jesus Merino
    • Cover by Doug Mahnke
    • U.S. Price $2.99

  • As Black Canary confronts her inner demons, the Calculator and new villainess Mortis take their revenge on Oracle!
  • Collecting issues #7-13!
    • Written by Gail Simone
    • Art by Ardian Syaf, Vincente Cifuentes, Guillem March, more...
    • Cover by Stanley "Artgerm" Lau
    • U.S. Price: $16.99

Friday, October 5, 2012

Black Canary sketch by Neal Adams

I finally got around to reading Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams' Green Lantern/Green Arrow series in the recently reprinted trade paperback.  Among the many, many highlights of this now legendary run is seeing Neal Adams' gorgeous treatment of Black Canary.

There aren't a lot of artists who make her look tougher or sexier than Neal Adams.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Welcome to Flowers & Fishnets

I’ve had this idea for a year to create a fan blog for one of my favorite comic book heroes.  Until I get my overripe fingers on a shooting star and secure a writing position at one of the major comic book publishers, this blog, if nothing else, can put my great love of the medium, the history, and the rich crop of characters to some use, be it constructive or not.  The hardest part was settling on a character to blog about.  There’s never going to be a shortage of Batman websites out there, and most of my other favorite super heroes of the DC universe were duly represented in quality if not quantity.  The hero that ranked highest on my list and who wasn’t being covered readily in the blogosphere I regularly followed was the dark haired florist who by night donned a wig, fishnets and leather and judo-chopped criminals as the blonde bombshell, Black Canary.

I do not profess to be an expert in the character, but I am a fan.  I have read many comics featuring Black Canary, but nowhere near all of them.  I’d like to, though, which is the reason why for my birthday this year, I treated myself to a discounted copy of The Black Canary Archives Vol. 1.  If I was going to blog about the Canary, at the very least I had to be familiar with her first appearance.

Cover art (mostly) by Carmine Infantino
The goal of blog is to read and review Black Canary stories as I find them in my collection of Birds of Prey trade paperbacks, or her original adventures in Flash Comics reprinted in the Archives edition, or her guest spots in The Brave and the Bold, to her role on the New 52’s Team 7.  Yep, even that.  And hopefully a lot more in between.  I’ll also add pics of Black Canary as rendered by some of my favorite artists in the medium over the years, and try to score some fun creator interviews with writers and artists who have contributed to the character over the years.  I’ll review my one piece of Black Canary merchandize: her action figure from the DC Universe Classics line.  Hell, maybe I can even convince my motorcycle-riding wife to dress up like Dinah--  No. I’m going to stop myself right there.

Flowers & Fishnets will pay tribute to any and all versions of the Black Canary I can come across.  That especially includes both the Golden Age Dinah Drake version, and the more contemporary Dinah Lance version.  Except in specific instances, I tend not to distinguish between the two and often think of them both as part of the Black Canary icon, just as I think of Carter Hall and Kator Hol as both being Hawkman, and Barry Allen and Wally West as both being The Flash.  When necessary, I’ll try to identify which version of Black Canary is being featured in write-ups and reviews of certain issues.

Sketch by Darwyn Cooke.
If you’re a fan of Black Canary, or you’d like to be, I hope you can get something useful out of this blog.  If not new information, at least something halfway interesting.  If you’ve never heard of the character and happened upon this blog because you googled “flowers and fishnets” expecting some kind of fetish website, I apologize for wasting your time.  Maybe some of the forthcoming fan art, however, will be to your liking.  Regardless of how you found this place, I hope you come back often.

As befits the Black Canary, I will sign off each post with...



Hmm.  That might not work.