Sunday, January 18, 2009

Green Arrow/Black Canary #16 - In Review

I want to like this comic so much. There is so much that they got right... and then the things they get wrong just cut all the worse because of what is right.

So what do married superheroes do on their nights off?

Strip Scrabble. Or at least, Scrabble In Their Undies.

The visual storytelling here leaves a lot to be desired. Dinah just disappears between the shots at the bottom of the page and while it's fairly obvious that she and Ollie have just moved to a reclined position in panel two before she launches up to the full and upright position in the third panel... it's still a bit jarring, the way it is laid out.

Anyway, they suit up, go to the scene of the crime and Ollie figures out that - yes - the assassin in question is Merlyn. They track down the address of one of the victims and Ollie actually gets to play tracker/detective.

I'd think Dinah would have brought up the point about The League of Assassins first but the way this is written, I think she's thinking out-loud rather than honestly asking Ollie why the room is trashed. Hence the fact that she's still thinking when the solution for how best to track Merlyn comes to mind.

Here's something else I liked which has been sorely missed over the last few years; reference to what's happening in other comics.

See, in Birds of Prey, Dinah and Barbara had something of a falling out after Barbara had Kate "Manhunter" Spencer start shadowing Dinah and Ollie's house. Why? Babs knew Dinah was hiding something from her and was trying to figure out what. Dinah - quite rightly in my opinion - got annoyed that Babs' first response was to play spy master instead of just picking up the phone and calling her like a normal best friend and by the idea that Babs didn't trust her judgment enough to think that maybe - just maybe - there's a good reason why Dinah might not want to confide something in her.

Of course this has all been resolved, for the most part, by now... but it's still nice to see the fact referenced. Ditto the reference to Merlyn's role in the destruction of Star City which comes once Olllie and Dinah catch up with the assassin. Speaking of which...

In the words of Morbo the Annihilator, "THE CANARY CRY DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY!".

Seriously - I don't know if this can be written off as the artist's fault or Kreisberg being unfamiliar with just how The Canary Cry works, but if Dinah is busting it out at this range- especially with Merlyn having to play Arrow Chicken with Ollie - Merlyn should be out like a light in 10 seconds.

And here is the part which ruins the issue for me and rips my heart apart. On the one hand, after over five years of watching Ollie being knocked on his ass, outwitted by Deathstroke, and upstaged by Batman in his own book, it is thrilling to see Ollie being presented as bad-ass as he should be.

On the other hand, I don't want to see this badassery renewed at the expense of Dinah's competence. Her Canary Cry does nothing in the above scene and despite having suffered a lot worse injuries and still being able to function, all it takes is one arrow to the arm to render her helpless.

Also, how the hell did he get around behind her so quickly?

Not to be difficult, but Dinah HAS been shot with an arrow before. Indeed, one of the best Green Arrow stories of all time Night Olympics by Alan Moore centers upon Ollie chasing down a would-be archer super-villain who wounds Dinah trying to get to him. And with that story having been reprinted recently in the Green Arrow/Black Canary: Til Death Do Us Part TP as well as DC Universe The Stories of Alan Moore, it's hardly an obscure story.

This is why the continuity on this book drives me crazy. On the one hand, we get nice, subtle references to what's happening in Birds of Prey as well as an incident in the Winick run of Green Arrow. And yet, this book completely forgets Dinah's grudge/rivalry with Merlyn (he was leading the group trying to kidnap her adopted daughter in the Black Canary mini-series from over a year ago) even though that incident is at the heart of the current rift between Babs and Dinah. And while I can't expect anyone to know just how many times Dinah may or may not have been shot with an arrow and if it matters that this was the first time she got shot in the arm or not, I can expect them to have read a freely available and very good story like Night Olympics

All in all, I think I'll be giving this book a miss from now on.


  1. Ugh. Yeah, she's WAY more powerful with her Canary Cry than this... and is a much better fighter, too. There's no way Merlyn would be standing behind her like that... she's drop & kick his bow where the sun don't shine.

  2. Oh COME ON... :P Temptation to start buying again killed.

  3. Well, there are SOME good comics out there.
    Sadly, this isn't one of them.
    JLA is good. And McDuffie knows how to write Dinah.

  4. Well, I was referring more to the speed with which he got behind her relative to when she got shot by the arrows... but yeah, there's no way he should have gotten that close much less gotten there that quickly.