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.

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