Monday, March 31, 2014

Black Canary on ARROW S2 E17

Once more, I defer to the website GreenArrowTV for their in-depth reviews and spoiler-filled summaries of Arrow episodes.  Head over there to check out the review for the season 2 episode, "Birds of Prey"!

My Commentary

This episode certainly wasn't what I expected.  Based on the title, I assumed we would see Huntress, however reluctantly, working alongside Green Arrow and Black Canary.  Instead, she is the villain of the episode, and they take her to extremely dark territory.  She's basically psychotic.  Her motives aren't to punish criminals and gangsters; they're fiercely personal.  She wants to murder her father and she's willing to kill innocent people to do it.  I don't know if they can ever bring the character back, but in my opinion she's beyond redemption.

Considering Sara Lance trained with the League of Assassins for years, the first Black Canary vs. Huntress fight should have been a lot more one-sided.  As their scuffle goes down, though, Canary gets the drop on Helena, who still manages to fight her off and throw her out a window.  I didn't care for that bit of action choreography.  The only way Huntress ought to be able to take Black Canary in a real straight-up fight is if Helena was trained by Bruce Wayne.

When the ladies scrap for the second time, Sara "doesn't hold back" but it still takes her a little too long to get the edge.

The other major hangup in this episode is Roy Harper.  Ever since he was injected with the superpower serum, he has struggled with this insatiable rage building inside of him.  Unfortunately, neither Ollie nor the producers of the show will let him vent that rage.  So all that happens with Roy most of the time is him shaking his fists and looking mad but not doing anything.  It's effectively ruining his character slowly but steadily.

Beyond those complaints, this episode had as many faults in logic as any episode of the series.  There were fun, entertaining parts, but the problems were too noticeable for me to favor this one.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Golden Oldie: FLASH COMICS #97

Black Canary's ongoing adventures continue with seven thrilling pages of mystery and suspense.  Carmine Infantino's pencils get better every month as he experiments with bold new panel layouts that make the action in Flash Comics #97 some of the best yet.

"The Mystery of the Stolen Cloth" is written by Robert Kanigher and drawn by Carmine Infantino.

The story opens with millionaire CEO Donald Swain being dumped from a moving car.  Swain rolls to a stop at the feet of Larry Lance.  The dying Swain recognizes Lance and gives him a piece of cloth, claiming that it's worth millions and the mob is willing to kill for it.  Then Swain dies.

At the Eastern Textile Mills warehouse, Black Canary spots the car used to kidnap Larry.  She slips inside where she finds Larry tied up by some low-level thugs answering to a known gangster named Threads.

Canary throws a bucket of chemicals at some of the gangsters, blinding them, and jumps around, dodging Threads' gunshots.  But when she leaps onto a conveyer belt, Threads turns on the belt, causing Black Canary to loser her balance.  She's pistol-whipped, because that has to happen in every issue, and tied up beside Larry.

Threads puts Lance and Canary on turning bobbins and has them wrapped in cloth until Larry will reveal what he did with Swain's piece of cloth.  When the detectives refuse to cooperate, Threads leaves them to be wound with cloth while he leaves the room, presumably to go to the bathroom or something.

Wow, it seems like Black Canary always has exactly the right tool in her choker for whatever perilous situation she finds herself in.

And she managed to start a fire with flint and steel using only her chin!

Black Canary and Larry Lance escape, fight their way past Threads' goons and kick open the door to his office.  He drops a giant blanket on them and bolts, but they're quickly on his back again.

Another simple but funny story, a bit more wild than most with the action beats.  The reason this story feels so much more fun is that Black Canary seems to have a real villain to oppose.  Threads is newly created for this story, but their dialogue suggests a previous encounter.  He could have been her first recurring rogue if they ever used him again.

Black Canary has never had a real rogues gallery of her own.  Most of her most interesting enemies are borrowed from other characters.  In her ongoing series from the '90s, she maybe had two baddies who would qualify as super-villains.  But most of her solo stories involved unnamed or unknown street-level crooks.  It's not a bad thing, but when heroes are measured by their villains, Black Canary has never measured up.

Come back next Sunday for another Golden Age adventure of Black Canary in Flash Comics #98.

Friday, March 28, 2014

This Week in Black Canary

I spent a whole lot of last week traveling and only managed to post my reviews of Action Comics Weekly and Flash Comics because I wrote them in advance.  As such, I don't have a review for what would be today's "Pretty Bird" installment.

But, hey, there is plenty of Black Canary news to appreciate this weekend!

First, there's this little bit of info that comics gossip publication Bleeding Cool ran last night, alleging that Black Canary's face will be grafted to Frankenstein's chest during Future's End!  As I tweeted, if this rumor turns out to be true, it's still not the worst treatment Black Canary's been given in the New 52.  Should I review those old Duane Swierczynski issues again?

Next, if you're able, check out the most recent episode of Arrow entitled "Birds of Prey" for the first meeting of Canary and Huntress!

Finally, if you read digital comics, or even if you just want to support Black Canary, her solo books are finally up on ComiXology--and for the next couple days, they're only 99 cents each!!!  There are also tons of great Green Arrow, Suicide Squad, Huntress and other books in the sale that goes for the rest of the month!

Also, according to the 1976 Super DC Calendar, today is the birthday of Ray Terrill...

Happy Birthday, Ray!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Black Canary by Marcos Martin

This gorgeous image originally graced the cover of Green Arrow #40 from September 2004.

I've enjoyed Marcos Martin's work since Batgirl: Year One, but I really, truly grew to love his work in recent years on Dan Slott's Amazing Spider-Man and Mark Waid's Daredevil when Martin's work evolved into what I can only describe as a "Modern Ditko".

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Back in Action: ACTION COMICS WEEKLY #633


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.

This week's cover by Swanderson, that is the art team of Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson, delivers one of the classiest, most iconic covers of the whole series.  The Blackhawks form up in the skies as their leader appears majestically, almost ghost-like in the heavenly clouds.

Black Canary

"Knock 'Em Dead" Part 10: 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.  Again, Black Canary's story is printed second out of six features in this issue.

The penultimate chapter to the mystery of the actress hunting her ex-husband and his friends opens with a shocking and bloody image of Ken Glazier.  It's hard to tell if he's alive or dead, but either way he doesn't look good since he was captured by his ex-wife, Cat, last time.

While Black Canary receives treatment for her wounded arm, Seattle Police Lieutenant Cameron tells her that his men searched the theater and found no trace of Cat.  She escaped somehow.  Canary refuses to see a doctor or get actual stitches until the killer is found.  An officer tells Cameron that a boat team found a body dumped in the water that matches the description of Deb, the prostitute who was the police's original suspect in the killings.  Since Canary actually saw Deb a week ago, Cameron asks her to come with him to identify the body.

When they arrive at the waterfront, Black Canary confirms that that the dead woman is Deborah.  Cameron and the police speculate how the body was dumped since it was found in an unusual location, the type that would have left plenty of witnesses.  This leads Black Canary to suspect the body may not have been dumped into the water from the dock or a boat at all.

She walks along the sound until she comes to a sewer outlet.  Then she realizes that Cat escaped the police cordon at the theater by slipping into the sewers.  She follows the tunnel past rats and other vermin with blood on their teeth.  At the edge of the tunnel, she finds a lair, what she describes as a shrine or altar constructed by the killer.  And the altar was dedicated to Cat's daughter.  Her dead daughter, apparently.

Then she learns that Ken Glazier didn't make it to a hotel.  He's caught and hurt bad, but still possibly alive.  She anticipates that Cat will return to the theater with Glazier.  Canary doesn't have much time to save him, but she does have the will to see this to the end.

[Click the images below to enlarge.]

This chapter is mostly about setting the stage for the grand finale.  Deborah is dead.  The true killer, Cat, is revealed, but she has a hostage, her real target all along.  Black Canary knows where she is, and what's more, she may know how to defeat the killer.

Other notes of interest: In case anyone is unsure about Black Canary's public identity, Lieutenant Cameron calls her Dinah.  While she didn't really have much of a secret identity for a lot of her Bronze Age appearances, at least her police liaison knows who she is at this point in the game.

Something else: Dinah looks tough as hell on page two when she's getting her arm treated by the paramedic.  She doesn't always need a black jacket to look badass, which is reinforced during the Ed Benes era of Birds of Prey when she mostly went sleeveless.  But this is added confirmation.

The Rest

Green Lantern by James Owsley and M.D. Bright features a lot of Hal Jordan fighting Malvolio, Lord of the Green Flame, who looks a lot like early Image Comics' version of Alan Scott.  Hal and Malvolio fight a lot and Malvolio is so obviously overpowered that he punches Hal into the center of the planet, where Hal discovers a gold space station (?) full of Malvolio's followers.  Then there's more fighting.

Cherie Wilkerson and Tom Mandrake finally bring Nightwing & Speedy back to the United States as--hey, wait!  What happened to Roy's daughter?  Did I miss something important a couple issues ago? Where the hell is Lian?  Anyway, they head to Washington with the C.B.I. jackass who fired Roy a while ago.  They're also being followed by Hunter, the mysterious cop in the fedora, who is captured by agents of Lord Danvers, who seems to be the evil power behind the drugs and guns going through Northern Ireland.  Nightwing and Speedy make a deal with Sepulveda, who then seems to betray them and it looks like they're getting arrested.

In the two-page Superman strip by Roger Stern and Curt Swan, two armies clash in the desert as the super-powered Followers who believe Superman is a god wage holy war against the super-powered bad guys who believe Superman is the Devil.  Superman can't stop them, but he figures he can knock out their power source if he can find the object that is emitting radiation to both groups.  He flies to space looking for it, then appears to be atomized by something.

The Phantom Stranger continues to fight the Lords of Chaos and their agent Tannarak in the third chapter by Paul Kupperberg and Fred Carrillo.  The Stranger fights Tannarak and his giant liger monster, then Tannarak appears to capture Cassandra Craft and hold her hostage.  But when Tannarak threatens to kill her, Phantom Stranger has an epiphany and attacks her first.  He reasons that it's not actually Cassandra Craft, but his other enemy, the sorceress Tala in disguise.

Martin Pasko and Rick Burchett have some fun in this installment of Blackhawk, as the drug that the Nazi babe slipped into the crew's coffee turns out to be the same L.S.D. that the government was developing.  After she shoots and wounds Olaf, she parachutes from the plane.  Meanwhile, Jan, Weng and everyone else aboard start tripping balls and seeing all sorts of amusing hallucinations that put them in serious jeopardy.  Olaf, despite his gunshot wound and blood loss is the only one capable of landing the plane safely.  That is, until he's attacked by Jan who has jealous visions of Olaf with Natalie Reed.  Will they all crash and die?  I guess we'll find out in a week.

Next week, I'll look at Action Comics Weekly #634, which continues Superman and Green Lantern's adventures while wrapping up the current sagas of Black Canary, Phantom Stranger, Blackhawk, and Nightwing & Speedy.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Black Canary Digital Sale on ComiXology

ComiXology is having a seven-day sale on DC comics related to Green Arrow and the characters appearing in the CW Network's Arrow this season.  This includes current and past Green Arrow comics, Roy Harper stories from Secret Origins and Titans, Deathstroke miniseries, the first Huntress series featuring Helena Bertinelli, some Suicide Squad issues, and, of course, a ton of Black Canary books that previously were not available digitally.

For the rest of the week, you can pick up Black Canary's "New Wings" miniseries from 1991, her twelve-issue ongoing from 1993, and her miniseries from 2007 that led up to her marriage to Green Arrow.  There are also a couple of issues of Birds of Prey and The Brave and the Bold included in this sale.

This sale is awesome because it means DC have finally gotten hip to the fact that Arrow is making Black Canary a high(er) profile character than she has been in forty years.  I've spent months tracking these comics down so I can blog about them in the future--and I will--so I was a little mad that now they're all cheaper and easier to buy digitally, but this will at least save me the time of scanning the pages I want to use for my reviews.

Anyway, quit reading this post and click over to ComiXology and go shopping!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Golden Oldie: FLASH COMICS #96

Last month, Black Canary's regular strip received a three page promotion, bumping the story up to ten pages.  It must have been a one time trial, though, because her story is back to its now usual seven pages in Flash Comics #96.

"The Riddle of the Topaz Brooch" is written by Robert Kanigher and drawn by Carmine Infantino.  As you can see from the teaser page, this story marks the first occasion where Black Canary is shown riding a motorcycle that would become her signature vehicle for most of the character's publication history.

When Larry Lance jumps over the counter, however, he finds the druggist dead.  Larry sends Dinah Drake to call the police, but when Dinah slips away, she changes into the costume of her alter-ego, the Blonde Bombshell called The Black Canary.

Black Canary returns to the drug store where Larry finds a newspaper clipping in the dead man's hand.  The article refers to the precious Gorham Brooch, which will make its final public appearance at a horse show that day.  But then the hired guns who murdered the druggist return to find Black Canary and Larry Lance there.

They trade gunfire for pies and ice cream, eventually pistol-whipping the heroes because Black Canary gets pistol-whipped in every damn issue.  When Canary and Larry wake up, the police arrive, assuming the fishnet-wearing vigilante killed the druggist.  So she's been framed yet again...

Black Canary and Larry Lance run from the drug store, eluding the cops, and heading toward their only clue--the horse show.

Carno and the Masked Riders naturally reveal themselves to be the killers from the drug store.  They steel the Gorham Brooch and ride toward the stadium's exit.  But not without pursuit!

The Masked Riders cause enough traffic congestion to prevent the police from following them, but Black Canary and Larry Lance have no trouble following on the motorcycle.  They trace the bandits to a private airstrip where the bad guys are taking off in a private jet.  Following no one's advice ever, they manage to grab onto the plane before just as it takes off.

The criminals send the plane into a trajectory certain to crash, and then they all abandon the plane with parachutes.  The heroes have only one play, to leap toward the crooks and float safely down on their parachutes.

At this point in her solo career, Black Canary's adventures are getting to be predictable.  It seems like every issue involves Dinah and Larry stumbling onto a body, Dinah changing to Black Canary, then getting framed for the crime, then going off and finding the real villain, then getting knocked unconscious, then saving herself (and Larry) at the last minute and stopping the criminals.

It's a good, classic hero tale for Golden Age storytelling, but repetitive as all get-out seeing as how the creators and publishers weren't banking on a lot of repeat readers.  Continuity wasn't so important at this time, which is good, because the number of times Black Canary gets knocked out would reduce her to nothing but a drooling vegetable.

On the other hand, it is great to see her on that motorcycle where she belongs!

Come back next Sunday for another Golden Age adventure of Black Canary in Flash Comics #97.

Friday, March 21, 2014


After Black Canary immigrated from her home dimension to the Earth of the Justice League of America, writer Dennis O'Neill wasted no time partnering the Blonde Bombshell with the Emerald Archer.  Dinah's first adventure as a member of the League co-starred Green Arrow, and within a couple of months, she would start appearing in the pages of Green Lantern/Green Arrow, also written by O'Neill.

Justice League of America #75: "In Each Man There is a Demon!" is written by Dennis O'Neill with pencils by Dick Dillin and inks by Joe Giella.

The story begins with Green Arrow narrating this month's tale, and what jumps out right away is Green Arrow's new look.  Neal Adams had already redesigned Oliver Queen's duds in The Brave and the Bold a couple months earlier, but this is the first time he appears with the Robin Good costume and Van Dyke beard in the pages of Justice League of America.

Oliver Queen is having some troubles in the beginning of the story as a business rival creates fraudulent documents that all-but ruin Ollie's reputation and his company.  He goes for a walk through the streets of Star City to reflect on the fortune he's about to lose... when suddenly, he hears a cry for help.  Quickly donning his Green Arrow clothes, he fires off an "instant sunburn arrow" that blinds and burns two would be muggers.  The almost-victim thanks Green Arrow, calling him the most useful man in Star City.

But Ollie isn't sure about that.  Should the costumed crime fighter be "more useful" than the millionaire businessman?  Ollie's having a bit of an identity crisis now.

Hawkman argues that Black Canary is quite simply underpowered to go up against the threats faced by the Justice League.  Black Canary then begins thinking about the world she left, the world of the Justice Society of America and Earth 2... the world of her recently late husband, Larry Lance.

Green Arrow then describes how he sought help for his identity crisis by finding a Dr. Oyal who developed a kind of machine that could identify the true nature of a person.  When Ollie undergoes the procedure, however, something bizarre and unexpected happens.  A phantom of Green Arrow, a kind of glowing green shade leaves his body like a ghost and attacks Dr. Oyal.  It claims to be the warrior spirit from within Oliver Queen.

Meanwhile, Superman and the Atom run tests on Dinah Lance where they make a shocking retcon discovery about her physiology.

Batman speculates that Black Canary's new sonic powers may be the result of some residual radiation from their battle with Aquarius last issue.  She was close enough to the energy ball that killed Larry that her cells may have been irradiated enough not to harm her but to create a meta-human power that right now she has no control over.

At that point, the shade of Green Arrow busts in on their meeting.  The League tries to capture it, but when they touch the thing, it draws out the aggressive inner nature of all of them.

Well, not all of them.  Superman, it appears, has no dark half.  After the shades trash the League's headquarters and take off to cause more mischief, Superman has to conceive a plot to get the team's confidence and fighting spirit back.

Superman goes to battle against his mysterious shadow self and after a fierce combat, Superman wins, proving to his friends and teammates that they can in fact do battle with themselves...and win.

When they leave, Superman reveals to us that the phantom he fought was just one of his robots painted green.

Each of the League members goes off to face their evil self individually, and each wins.  First Hawkman defeats his phantom, then Batman his, then the Atom his.  Then Black Canary...

She leaps off the bike and tackles her shade, putting the dark Canary down with a sleeper hold.

Then it's Green Arrow's turn to fight his shade, but when the time comes, he chickens out.  His identity crisis has become a full-blown crisis of confidence.  However, as he's walking away, he comes across a kindly old couple that give him a nice pep talk.  So he goes out looking for his shade again, and when he finds him, they draw down.

Ollie is wounded, but when his arrow strikes the shade, all five of the phantom Leaguers are sucked back inside the heroes, ending the problem.

For Black Canary's first story as a Justice Leaguer, this issue does a lot to establish her as a visible and credible addition to the team.  First there is the creation of a new power set: her sonic scream, although at this point she has no control over the power and it doesn't really emanate from her mouth.  It will take some time for Dinah to master this power and direct it as her "Canary Cry".

For now, the power seems almost a burden as much as a gift.  O'Neill is merely seeding this super power in Black Canary in case she'll need it in later adventures when her Judo isn't enough.  But in this story, it is.  She uses her martial arts ability to fight her personal demon and succeeds, a great testimony to her abilities and her value to the Justice League.

Black Canary also gets her own mode of transportation.  The motorcycle may not be as audacious as the Batmobile, but it's as lithe and stylish as herself, and in time it will be her signature vehicle.  And what's more, the motorcycle was custom made for her by Superman.  How cool is that?!!

The third statement made about Black Canary in this issue is her unquestioned connection to Green Arrow.  There's nothing specifically romantic or overly flirtatious about their dialogue in this issue, but Dillin sure draws them to look familiar and comfortable with each other.  It won't be long before he has taken the place of her husband (that he sorta kinda killed).

Oh, the other cool thing about this story--Superman doesn't have an evil counterpart!  There is no bastard version of Superman.  He's that good!  Remember when Superman was good?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Back in Action: ACTION COMICS WEEKLY #632


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.

This issue's cover by Tom Grindberg shows Nightwing and Speedy under fire from the one or more of the warring factions of Northern Ireland.  I'm not sure if the toddler in Speedy's arms in this image is supposed to be his daughter, Lian, or the Irish scamp named Button that he's taken under his wing.  Likewise, I'm not sure he's trying to protect the child or use her as a human shield from the semi-automatic weapon pointed at him.  Also, I have no idea what emotion I'm supposed to be getting from his face.  Fear?  Pain?  Shock?  Did the baby just poop on his leg?  I guess I've seen better.

Black Canary

"Knock 'Em Dead" Part 9: 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.  Black Canary's story is printed third out of six features in this issue, coming after Green Lantern and Phantom Stranger.

Last chapter we finally received confirmation that the killer hunting Ken Glazier's old friends and acquaintances wasn't the prostitute named Deb.  The killer is, in fact, Ken's ex-wife, Cat, a popular actress appearing as Peter Pan in a local Seattle stage production.  Part 9 opens with Cat holding the Deb prisoner in the sewer.  She claims to be doing this because Deb killed Cat's daughter.  Deb denies this, but it doesn't seem to affect Cat, who kicks her into the water, leaving her to sink and drown.

Black Canary and Ken Glazier go to see Peter Pan in order to identify Cat.  The police surround the theater and Lieutenant Cameron joins Canary to make the arrest when Ken points out his ex-wife.  They watch the show and and Ken ID's his wife playing Pan.  Cameron says they'll arrest her after the show.

Cat, however, recognizes her husband, and during the climactic sword fight between her character and Captain Hook.  They take the fight off the stage and into the audience, and when Cat is close enough, she leaps at Ken, fully attempting to kill him in front of the whole audience.  But Black Canary is there to stop her.

They fight while the audience reacts in panic, storming for the exits.  Cat slashes Canary's arm with one of her knives and runs backstage.  Cameron checks to see that Black Canary is okay, and then they chase the killer.  Canary follows Cat through the men's bathroom and out a window, but there loses track of the killer.  Cat slipped into a sewer grate and spies on her pursuers from underground.

Unsure of whether Cat escaped through the police cordon or if she's just holed up and hiding really well somewhere in the theater, Cameron agrees to send Ken Glazier out of there to a hotel.  But when Ken gets in his car, Cat is waiting for him and makes him drive away at knife-point.

[Click the images below to enlarge.]

Randy Duburke's art is immeasurably better in this issue than it was back in the first Black Canary story from issues #609 through #616.  Black Canary still looks great even wearing solid black leather pants instead of her fishnet stockings, and her hair seems to fill up the pages like Batman's expansive cape.  The action is highly exaggerated but never confusing.

This story has been as great as any classic suspense thriller and really reminds me of certain types of movies from the '80s and '90s like Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct, except without the explicit sex scenes and with a costumed vigilante.  The body count continues to rise as the story ramps up with two more chapters to go!

The Rest

From the pages of X-Force comes... BluddFire!!!
James Owsley and M.D. Bright continue the story of Green Lantern as Hal Jordan pursues the alien shrine-ship into space, reflecting on the fact that the alien only learned violence and aggression when it came to Earth.  Then something strange happens and Hal seems to be warped through time and space to a different star system with no way to find his way back to Earth.  He investigates a strange alien planet and finds its ruler, a human going by the name Malvolio of the Green Flame.

But as you can see, he looks a bit more like Alan Scott reimagined by an X-Men artist in the '90s.  Oh, and he's needlessly angry, too.

In chapter two of The Phantom Stranger's tale by Paul Kupperberg and Fred Carrillo, the titular character chases Tannarak across the skies of New York, learning that his recently deceased foe was resurrected by the Lords of Chaos.  Cassandra Craft tries to get him to stop but he doesn't listen to her because no one ever listens to women named Cassandra.  Tannarak goes to the Bronx Zoo, calling all the big cats to him.  After he summons lions and tigers and such, he draws in his energy and fuzes them all into one giant bipedal felinoid monster.

This week's two-page Superman strip by Roger Stern and Curt Swan is entitled "Holy War" and we learn that not only does the group known as the Followers believe Superman is a god, but their enemies, the evil organization determined to destroy them, actually views Superman as a devil.  They call him the Beast of the Apocalypse, which is all sorts of amusing to me to think of Superman that way.

The adventures of Nightwing & Speedy by Cherie Wilkerson and Vince Giarrano continue to deliver the action as our heroes from America find themselves beset by the Sanas and the F.O.E.s.  The girl named Moira is nearly killed in a bombing near the parade, Nightwing takes out some corrupt cops, and Speedy shoots down a helicopter gunship with his bow and arrow.  But the violence isn't limited to the streets, as even government officials poison each other to take power.

The latest installment of Blackhawk by Martin Pasko and Rick Burchett finds the Blackhawk crew
escorting a beautiful woman who fends of the flirtatious advances of Jan Prohaska.  However, when the Blackhawks let their guard down, the woman is murdered by the Nazi babe who takes her place and looks enough like her to sleep with Jan that night.  She infiltrates their group and when they take flight, she starts to poison their coffee.

Next week, I'll look at Action Comics Weekly #633, which continues the adventures of Black Canary, Superman, Green Lantern, Phantom Stranger, Nightwing & Speedy, and Blackhawk.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Team-Up: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #62 (Nov 1965)

I know that last Tuesday I promised a review of the first issue of the Birds of Prey ongoing series, but  I'm pushing my coverage of that series back until at least the second week of April.  In the meantime, I've got a Black Canary team-up I've been sitting on for a while.

The Brave and the Bold #62 pairs Black Canary with Starman for the second consecutive issue in "The Big Super-Hero Hunt" written by Gardner Fox with art by Murphy Anderson.  Click here to check out my review of their previous team-up.

Boy, the upper half of this cover is really, really busy.  There's a whole lot of text up there contrasting with the rest of the cover, depicting relatively small characters in battle against a pretty stark background.  As we can see, Starman and Black Canary are confronted by the villainous coupling of Sportsmaster and The Huntress (who would later be known as Tigress).  And the other great thing about this issue, as advertised on the cover, is it features another one of my favorite Golden Age heroes: Wildcat.

As with the last issue, we get a teaser page divided into two columns, but this time Starman and Black Canary are on one side and their adversaries on the other.

The story begins in Federal City where the upper crust of society has come to view wax mannequins of ancient sports figures.  Suddenly, the statue of Discobulus cracks and falls away from a living man dressed as a fisherman.  Using a fishing rod, the stranger snares a valuable trophy and sets off some sports-related traps for the shocked onlookers and local cops.

As luck would have it, however, the director of the sportsman's display is having dinner in the building with Dinah Lance, wife of private investigator Larry Lance, and secretly the costumed crime fighter known as Black Canary.

Meanwhile, on the outskirts of the city, Ted Knight, astronomer, businessman, and superhero called Starman, enjoys a quiet night at home.  On his estate, Ted has crafted scale models of some the great astronomical observatories from around the world.  When Ted walks by the life-size reproduction of the Pekin Observatory, though, he hears a voice calling out for help from inside.

The Pekin Observatory is a maze designed by ancient Chinese engineers, and despite the fact that Ted had it rebuilt on his property, he doesn't know how to get through the maze.  So he dons the disguise of his adventurous alter-ego, Starman, and uses the Cosmic Rod to fly over the maze.  Inside, he finds Wildcat, his one-time teammate from the Justice Society of America, knocked unconscious.

But Starman and Wildcat aren't alone there.

Attacked by the falcons, Starman flies high up in the atmosphere where he happens to spot a shooting star falling through the night sky.  He uses the Cosmic Rod to smash the meter, sending its firry debris at the birds, scattering them at first.  When the falcons regroup, he uses the Rod to transform the moonlight into energy that freezes the birds in ice blocks.  And after that he creates an Aurora Borealis effect to distract the remaining birds.  Yeah, all of that makes perfect sense.

Starman pursues Huntress, but the lady was en route to meet her boyfriend, Sportsmaster, returning from his heist of the sportsman's show.  Sportsmaster sees Starman first and throws a ski at poor Ted.

Black Canary lifts Sportsmaster over her head and spins him around before heaving him off.  Proud of this miraculous physical feat, she doesn't see the Huntress sneaking up behind her.

Black Canary sends the tree branch back at Huntress, taking the wind out of her.  But when the Canary moves in to keep the woman down, Sportsmaster trips her with one of his skis.  Black Canary falls headfirst into the tree, knocking herself out.

Sportsmaster and Huntress escape to water where Sportsmaster has a boat waiting for their getaway.

Starman and Black Canary stake out Sportsmaster's skis, waiting for the villain to return and claim them.  Instead, however, the skis are remote activated by jets that fly them off into the sky.  Starman grabs Black Canary and uses his Cosmic Rod to fly after them.  They follow the skis to an isolated chalet in the countryside.

The heroes search the house, and when they come to the underground cellar, they find cages of animals...and Wildcat, too!

Wildcat fights the polar bear while Starman tussles with a black panther and wild boar.  He uses his rod to send the panther flying and locks the boar in another cage.  Black Canary uses her famed judo mastery on a giant gorilla.

While all of this is going on, Sportsmaster and Huntress play a round of golf outside on a green that somehow floats above the ground.  The green floats all the way to the Federal City Country Club where Sportsmaster drives golf balls at the golfers, knocking them out, so he can steal prize money from the club.

Starman engages Sportsmaster, with the latter throwing his golf hat and the pole, but Starman manages to dodge and deflect using his powerful rod.  Black Canary chases Huntress until she falls into a disguised hole in the ground.  Huntress grabs her and flips her out of the hole, sending her on a collision course with Starman.  But the Cosmic Rod sends Black Canary back at Huntress.

This story isn't as good as the previous issue where Canary teamed up with Starman to fight the Mist, but it's still pretty fun.  Sportsmaster demands a certain level of suspension of disbelief in order to take him seriously as a villain, but a few of his gimmicks were interesting if nonsensical.  We don't get much characterization from Dinah or Ted, and Wildcat doesn't do much of anything important.

Still, the best part of this issue is seeing Black Canary fight super villains.  In her solo adventures during the Golden Age, Black Canary never had a rogues gallery.  The only time she fought real costumed villains was as part of the Justice Society of America.  It makes sense then that in these issues of The Brave and the Bold she would piggyback on other heroes' foes.

I read this story in the collected Black Canary Archives.  If you can find it there or on its own, I highly recommend reading this issue!