By Matteo Discardi.
By Andie Tong.
By Matteo Discardi.
By Andie Tong.
There’s one more Black Canary comic that’s been causing a stir, so I should mention it. Folks seem to be having a problem with a scene in which JLA Chairwoman Black Canary confronts Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman for holding secret meetings in a hidden room.
A lot of the commentary is around Ed Benes’ art and I get that. I find it pretty easy to ignore, but yes, he does like to draw booties and crotches. The panel above isn’t at all indicative of most of Benes’ poses in the scene.
Where I disagree with critics though is about Dwayne McDuffie’s writing. Black Canary does accuse the “trinity” of undermining her authority as leader of the JLA and I’ve read a couple of posts questioning exactly how they’re doing that. After all, they’re not countermanding her orders in battle and none of the other members know about the secret meetings. Black Canary herself had to do some serious detective work to find out about them.
So, yeah, I agree that they’re not really undermining her authority as far as the rest of the team is concerned. But Canary’s response here isn’t really about the rest of the team. It’s about her. It’s an emotional response to finding out that the three heavy-hitters of the superhero community in general and the JLA in particular don’t trust her enough to include her in their little club. “Undermining” may be a poor choice of words on Canary’s part, but I don’t think they necessarily are on McDuffie’s. It’s exactly the kind of thing someone would say out of their emotion when they feel personally and professionally threatened. I like it. It humanizes Canary.
In a perfect world, I’d have much more to say about the return of the Milestone characters in this issue. I’ve been waiting for this day and I’m twelve kinds of excited about seeing where this goes. But the sad fact is that it’s been so long since I’ve read these guys’ adventures that I don’t remember much about all but a couple of them. I really need to dig out my old Milestones again. And probably post about them.
Filed Under black canary
After getting Tony Bedard wrong, I’m going to try to wait another issue before forming an opinion about Green Arrow and Black Canary’s new writer Andrew Kreisberg. But so far, I’m a little concerned.
Kreisberg’s entire first issue takes place in an alley as Green Arrow fires at a punk bad guy (named Dregz… sigh) who has a knife to Black Canary’s throat. In that second of time, Green Arrow relives the last few days (catching us up on what’s happened since last issue and establishing the new status quo for the series).
I was worried at first that this was going to be all about Green Arrow’s having to rescue Black Canary, but thankfully, Kreisberg avoids that. I still don’t get how Dregz ever got the drop on Canary in the first place though. She’s supposed to be a way better fighter than that and leaving the scene off-panel with an explanation that the bum just “got lucky” is lame. Especially since so much at the end hinges on her not being able to use her fighting skill to stop this guy. Why couldn’t she? Why does she have to resort to what she does? We’re not told.
I also don’t get why she and Green Arrow just walk away at the end, leaving Dregz (presumably unconscious, but we’re never shown) in the alley. And I’m not sure how to interpret that last page, but if it’s what I think it is, then Black Canary has just used her powers in a completely irresponsible way and caused irreparable harm to an (as far as we know) innocent person. I’m assuming there will be consequences and that that’s where Kreisberg’s going with the story, but I’m not liking what it says about Canary.
First she’s captured by a “lucky” street punk; then she carelessly ruins someone’s life and walks off from a crime scene with the criminal free? Something’s very wrong here and I hope it’s not the writer.
Filed Under black canary
In my defense, I said in my review of Birds of Prey #124 that I don’t know Bedard’s work very well. Because of that though, I didn’t give him the benefit of the doubt about some questions I had from reading that issue, and I should have. Turns out he had it all covered.
All that posturing and gloating from Barbara Gordon? Totally faked.
Which also explains why Barbara wanted to close up shop and move, and why she needed her best friend Black Canary around for the next phase of the mission.
So, not that he reads my blog or anything, but I’m sorry, Tony. This issue rules and retroactively makes the last one pretty much rule too.
Barbara and Canary’s relationship feels like it did during Gail Simone’s time as writer and that’s another huge compliment. Also? The plot about the villanious Caretaker’s keeping a whole village of people trapped in a basement with a glass ceiling that he can look down through as he controls their destinies is almost as awesome as the sequence in which the Birds break them out.
Filed Under black canary
Where I’m willing to give Gail Simone and Wonder Woman the benefit of the doubt, I don’t know Tony Bedard well enough to do the same for him and Birds of Prey. If this issue is indicative of his others on the series though, I’m glad I’m not reading it anymore.
I quit reading Birds of Prey when Black Canary quit being a regular cast member and only picked this up because she’s back for a couple of issues. But there’s so much ludicrousness going on here that I wasn’t able to get into the story at all.
It starts off cool enough with a villain who turns the Birds’ plane into a giant robot and Black Canary shows up with some friends to help fight it and the other bad guys attacking the team. I didn’t know many of the villains, but they include a little guy in a jetpack and were otherwise interesting enough to keep my attention. Except that one of them is named Kilg%re. How the heck do you pronounce that? Unfortunately, it’s a portent of other problems with the issue.
The real draw of the issue should’ve been the showdown between Barbara Gordon and the Joker. I don’t think this is the first time they’ve faced off since he shot and paralyzed her, but I don’t specifically recall when they might’ve met before this. Let’s pretend that it is the first time though. It’s certainly played up as a big deal. It should be powerful, right? The Joker ought to be frightening. He’s infiltrated Barbara’s hideout. He’s coming after her. Shouldn’t there be some tension?
There’s not. I guess it’s because Barabara’s empowered now, which is cool, but she goes into battle against the Joker with as much anxiety as Batman would. As the Joker disturbingly, creepily reminisces about the night he shot her, she glares at him resolutely and claims that he took nothing from her. “Bah, I loss the use of my legs. Who cares? Big whoop!” I’m not saying she should be all tearful and “You took everything from me!” but c’mon. A little emotion? Please? Else, why am I supposed to care about any of this?
Then she calmly beats the crap out of him. Oh wait, that’s after she dodges bullets. In a wheelchair. But yeah, she beats the crap out of him and smashes his teeth.
“Violated you in a way that thrills and sickens me?” From breaking his frickin teeth? How many times has Batman smashed the Joker in the mouth and broken out his teeth? A hundred? A million? This is special how?
The Joker goes even crazier than usual, throws Barbara down some stairs, and escapes. She’s okay though (I actually have no problem with that) and later explains to the rest of her pals…
Um. No he won’t, Barbara.
I don’t know if we’re supposed to believe Barbara’s speech or just believe that she believes it, but either way it’s pretty sad. At best, Barbara’s deluded herself into thinking that she’s just affected the Joker in a lasting, meaningful way. At worst, it’s a sloppy story.
Even sloppier, she declares that since the Joker will come back eventually, they now have to shut down their headquarters and move. Because why? She just proved that she could beat him all by herself. With added security and her pals around, they’ve got nothing to fear from the green-haired bozo.
And even weirder than that, Barbara declares that before they leave town, they’ve got to finish off the local bad guys they’ve been fighting for the last several issues. But not the whole Birds team though. Oh no. She and Black Canary (you know, who’s not even on the team anymore) will take care of it personally. While Huntress and Manhunter and the rest of these awesome fighters sit around and catch up on Grey’s Anatomy, I guess.
All in all, a thoroughly WTF issue. I’m a sucker for Canary though, so I’ll be back next issue to see what happens. Maybe it’ll make some sense of the things that bothered me here. That would be a nice surprise.
Filed Under black canary
Hey, You Guuuuuuuuys!
By Joey Mason.
I like some of these Ame-Comi statues from Udon Studios, but I’m disappointed in this one. Pretty sure it’s the lack of fishnets.
South Park Canary… from paper
Filed Under black canary
In her second appearance, Black Canary played much more of a backseat role than she did in her first. That’s fair though, because this is a Johnny Thunder story, not a Black Canary one. And though Black Canary doesn’t particularly shine in it, it is a great example of the combination of action and slapstick humor that folks must have liked about Johnny.
The story opens with Johnny daydreaming about Black Canary just as she happens to scoot by with a mysterious package.
I don’t know if “framed” is the word she’s looking for there. If you’ll remember from last time, Black Canary is a crook who steals from other crooks. That’s what she’s done in this story too. Her robberies are real; it’s just that her motives are good.
Then again, that’s a lot to throw at Johnny (who’s not the brightest guy around to begin with) as she’s hurriedly trying to ditch some loot. “Framed” is probably just shorthand for “Trust me. It’s not what it looks like.”
Johnny does trust her and he takes the package, but almost immediately it’s snatched out of his hands by the goons chasing Black Canary. He pouts for a moment before Canary gets him moving again.
The story’s not real clear on why Canary tried to dump the package with Johnny. Or why – if she’s close enough to write notes with little bird-drawings on them and lob them at Johnny’s head – she doesn’t just tail the crooks herself. Dark and mysterious are the Ways of the Black Canary. I’d think maybe she was just sweet on Johnny except that none of their other stories together ever suggest that. Chalk it up to writer Bob Kanigher’s wanting to include Black Canary in another Johnny Thunder story and not having a very good idea about how to do that.
Johnny gives chase and what follows is one of the most awesome comics pages ever. I don’t usually like to scan whole pages, but this one’s too good not to share.
First of all, the art is gorgeous. I love how Carmine Infantino poses Johnny in each panel. The way he runs cracks me up and I could stare at the balanced design of his posture in the second panel for hours.
I also like how Johnny suddenly becomes a competent action hero as he’s riding on the back bumper of the car. That’s a rare thing, but it adds something to the character that he’s not constantly bumbling his way through cases. Sometimes he actually knows what he’s doing.
Oh, and then of course there’s the bad guys’ hideout that happens to be a castle. No explanation for that either, by the way. It’s just a castle.
More hilarity ensues once Johnny’s inside.
Johnny’s captured and thrown in a bag to be fed to crocodiles. Black Canary shows up to rescue him, but she’s also captured and thrown into a bag. In another instance of competence, Johnny rescues her.
Johnny tells her to stay put while he goes off to retrieve the package, a hollow owl statue that contains the diary of the leader of the crooks. Any credit this mastermind gets for living in a castle with crocodile-traps is offset by his stupidity in keeping an incriminating diary. He deserves to have it stolen and handed over to the police (which, we learn, was Canary’s plan all along).
Back to true form, Johnny bumbles his way through a fight with the thugs and pretty much wipes the floor with them. All except one whom Black Canary arrives just in time to clock with the owl statue. She decided not to stay put like Johnny told her to. Good for her.
And so ends the Case of the Perilous Package. Again, Black Canary’s pretty disposable in it, but that’ll change as we go along. She becomes a regular guest-star in Johnny’s stories from here on until she proves so popular that DC cuts her loose from Johnny and starts letting her solo.
Johnny’s still around next time though, and his Thunderbolt (absent in this story) will be back too.
Coming on the heels of a couple of other cancellations of series that starred female heroes, some folks have wondered if this isn’t some kind of backlash against super-heroines in general and if series like She-Hulk should be worried. Of course not, says Johanna (and, to be fair, Valerie in the link above as well, though after a rather sensationalistic title and opening paragraph). And I agree.
Low sales are most likely due to readers just getting tired of the concepts. Spider-Girl and Manhunter (good as Manhunter has been; I haven’t read Spider-Girl) have had the same writers on them for pretty much their entire runs. Where She-Hulk (for example) has the advantage is that it’s made use of one of the strengths of corporate-owned comics: the ability to boost reader-interest by bringing in a new creative team with a fresh vision.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing but respect and admiration for Marvel and DC’s allowing Tom DeFalco and Marc Andreyko to shepherd their respective titles to the very end. But let’s face it, if DC handed Manhunter over Gail Simone or Geoff Johns, the series would get enough of a sales boost to keep it going for a while longer. I’m not saying that DC should do that; just saying that it would work.
She-Hulk on the other hand, wasn’t cancelled with Dan Slott’s leaving it. It was handed over to Peter David who’s doing just fine with it. That’s why it’s not in danger of being canceled, even though – like Spider-Girl and Manhunter – it’s been through a couple of hiatus periods in its history.
And what does this have to do with Birds of Prey? Absolutely nothing, except that that series’ demise also has nothing to do with its featuring women heroes. BoP is being “canceled” along with Robin and Nightwing in a publicity stunt tied into aftermath the “Batman RIP” storyline. DC’s already announced an Oracle mini-series to follow BoP and you can bet there will be something else directly after that once the dust settles in Gotham City.
Adding a couple of more shovelfuls of dirt onto the coffin of the Women Super-Heroes Are In Trouble Theory, DC is still coming out with a Power Girl ongoing and a Zatanna ongoing. Also recently announced, Amanda Conner will be illustrating the upcoming Black Canary/Zatanna graphic novel.
Filed Under black canary
Black Canary’s first appearance was pretty humble. She showed up in a back-up story in Flash Comics #86 and she wasn’t even in a Flash story, but a Johnny Thunder one.
If you don’t know Johnny Thunder, he was a comedy character who hung around Flash and the other members of the Justice Society of America in the ’40s. His gag was that he was incompetent and mostly blundered his way through adventures with the help of a magic, genie-like character called the Thunderbolt. If Johnny ever said the magic word “Cei-U” (pronounced “say you”), the Thunderbolt would appear and grant Johnny’s wishes for an hour. Of course, Johnny didn’t know the magic word; he would just accidentally say “say you” at the right time (”Who’d you say you were?”) and he’d be covered.
Anyway. Black Canary.
In her first story, Black Canary is sort of a criminal. I’ll explain that “sort of” in a minute, but as you can see from the panel above, they introduced her as a straight-up crook. Johnny meets her when she’s having trouble getting into a second floor room to steal something from a vault.
I’m not sure why she didn’t just go after it herself. She’s certainly capable. But for whatever reason, she decided to use a patsy and Johnny’s the very definition.
In the Foreword to the Black Canary Archives, Carmine Infantino talks about his influence in designing Black Canary’s look. He mentions Milton Caniff’s Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon, which I can totally see. He was 20 at the time, so he basically just created his fantasy woman. He doesn’t mention her, but based on the panels above, I have to think that Veronica Lake also did some muse work.
Johnny steals the mask with no problem, but Canary gets rid of his escape route and strands him in the room. I’m still not sure what that’s about, but the mask’s owners soon show up and interrogate Johnny. That’s when we learn that the Canary has a particular m.o. She only steals from other crooks.
Don’t worry. With the help of his Thunderbolt, Johnny will be fine.
Meanwhile though, Canary’s using the mask to get into an exclusive masquerade ball being thrown by a local gangster. He gave out the masks ahead of time to his guests and they also serve as invitations. At the party, Canary tries to complete her real mission, stealing back a famous jewel that the gangster has recently stolen.
Johnny and the Thunderbolt show up long enough to provide a distraction and give Canary a chance to fight back.
And all is well. That wraps up the story except for one last gag between Johnny and his magical friend.
There are a lot of unanswered questions about Black Canary here. For one thing, we’re not told why she only steals from criminals. Did she return the diamond to its owner or did she lose control of it in the fight and Johnny turned it in? Once we get to know her better in future stories, we can figure out that she must be the one returning the stolen merchandise once she gets it, but you can’t tell that with any certainty from this adventure. As far as we know here, she’s just a crook who steals from other crooks. And she’s not afraid to put innocent fellas in harm’s way to do it.
That moral ambiguity adds a sense of mystery to her though and I don’t wonder that DC liked her enough to use her again in the very next issue.
Illustration by Chad Crayton.
The solicitation copy for December’s issue of Birds of Prey makes it sound like Black Canary’s also going to be in the November issue, even though the solicit for that one doesn’t mention her. I’m not going to read anything into that, but it’s such a non-chalant mention of her that I admit my first thought was to wonder if Black Canary’s coming back to the series. And to my surprise, I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea.
Mostly, I think my attitude has to do with money. I’m doing just fine reading about Black Canary in Green Arrow/Black Canary and Justice League of America. I’m not so deprived for stories about her that I’m interested in a paying another $3 a month for more of them.
On the other hand, she’d get a lot more focus in Birds of Prey than she does in Justice League of America, even though she leads the JLA. If I was only going to read two Black Canary comics, I’d be tempted to switch Justice League out for Birds of Prey.
I’m sure it’s a moot point and that there aren’t any plans to put Canary back in BoP on a regular basis. It just got me thinking is all. I’m thrilled that she’s finally a popular character, but I wouldn’t like having her become as well-liked as, say, Batman, so that I’ve got to make choices about which of her numerous comics I’m going to read.
How to make a Zatanna costume
Meagan VanBurkleo at the Girls Entertainment Network chronicles her creation of a Zatanna outfit. I got to see the finished product at MicroCon this year, so it’s cool to see the thought that Meagan put into making it.