Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Green Arrow/Black Canary #22

Fair Warning: I just skimmed through this in the comic shop, while I was waiting for the line to die down this morning on the way to work, so some of this may not be totally accurate. Feel free to let me know if I was off on any major plot details in the comments.

If you've been reading this blog and my writing for a while, you know that Green Arrow and Black Canary are two of my favorite characters and that I'm a little obsessive about seeing them written properly. You also might remember how I savaged the first issue of Andrew Kreisberg's run on this title, noting that he portrayed Black Canary as being an incompetent fighter AND incapable of controlling her super powers.

The following issues have gotten worse and worse and worse, with Dinah's personal history having been rewritten to become a blatant rip-off of the origin of Rogue from X-Men (i.e. discovers powers by accident, nearly kills classmate). What is worse than that is that Dinah is being written more and more out of character, proving to be both incompetent in battle AND inexplicably jealous of the crazed killer who is stalking her husband.

This issue? Well, it looks Kreisberg has heard the fan complaints about how horribly out of character Dinah has been acting in his work and has responded by trying to turn Dinah into a completely unsympathetic bitch, hoping that the readers will come to be as indifferent towards Dinah as he is.

A bold statement? Damn right it is. But what else can we conclude from the text we are given?

How else do you explain why the comic ends with Dinah ordering Ollie to stop being Green Arrow, saying he is getting too close to the fire? This statement being made regarding how Ollie apparently did nothing after Stupid.. er, I mean Cupid (a.k.a. The crazed redhead hottie stalking Ollie) killed another murderer - a man who stabbed his out of control girlfriend for no readily apparent reason - in the midst of the recent rioting?

Refresh my memory - wasn't Dinah chewing Ollie out a few months ago for admitting that he sometimes wanted to kill the violent killer super-villains he fought against. And now she's chewing him out for NOT giving into that urge with a violent killer super-villain, who just happens to be a gorgeous redhead who is after her man?

The whole scene not only makes Dinah look controlling and jealous (which makes no sense) but it also makes her look like a hypocritical bitch, seeing as how most of her half of the comic centers upon her dealing with the consequences of what happens when a hero loses control. In this case, Dinah losing control of her powers back in issue #15 deafened a young musician, who became inspired to build a device that could cure his deafness, instill deafness in others and release sonic blasts. Calls himself Discord.

Kreisberg does himself no favors here incidentally. He has Discord's younger brother show up and note that what Discord has built to fix his hearing could revolutionize the hearing-aid industry, asking why he is wasting such a thing on petty revenge when he could be healing the world. The answer, naturally, is a sonic blast which knocks said brother off the roof.

Here's a piece of free advice for you writers out there; the only time you should ever point out that a supervillain's technology could be more profitable being used for good than evil is when you are writing a comedic deconstruction of the genre (a.k.a. Patton Oswalt's JLA: Welcome to the Working Week) or when you are dealing with mercenary characters like Mirror Master, who are only in it for the cash and will happily play hero or villain for the right price.

What really takes the cake though, is the flashback sequences in which Kreisberg - apparently not content with ruining two characters- has to make Wildcat (Ted Grant) and the original Black Canary (Dinah Drake Lance) look foolish. Here's the quick outline of what has been happening in the flashbacks.

1. A young Dinah injures her best friend/crush when she discovers her powers as a teenager.

2. Dinah tells her mom what happens. Terrified and in tears, Dinah Sr. calls "a friend" and asks them to watch Dinah and see what they can find out.

3. Dinah Jr. realizes she is being followed, runs home, and is shocked when a man in a cat suit suddenly jumps through the kitchen window.

4. Dinah Sr. gives Ted Grant an earful, says he was just supposed to figure out if Dinah Jr. is a metahuman or not and then find a way to cure her.

5. It is at this point that Dinah Jr. finds out that Dinah Sr. was The Black Canary and was a member of the JSA back in the day. She apparently retired to be a stay-home mom.

6. Ted Grant talks to Dinah Jr. in the backyard and says he can teach her out to fight and maybe learn the control she needs. He has this talk, with Dinah Sr. standing on the back porch, apparently watching everything.

It's pretty well established - in multiple sources - that Dinah Jr. grew up knowing who her mom was and having all the other JSA members as adopted uncles. This whole sequence pretty much confirms what we've long suspected - Kreisberg hasn't read one issue of Birds of Prey, much less the flashback issue there which showed that Dinah Sr. was an active heroine for a good long while and that Dinah Jr. was long aware of her mom's double life, to the point of staying up all night worrying and fixing breakfast for her superhero mom and detective dad as they got home from their late-night jobs.

But even if we ignore the history and continuity issues that only scholars like me are likely to know or care about, how do you explain away...

1. Why is Dinah Sr. terrified of the possibility that her daughter is a metahuman? This isn't Marvel, for crying out loud!

2. Out of all the people she knew who could figure out if her daughter is a metahuman (Dr. Midnite is a medical doctor, Hourman is a pharmacologist, Starman is a scientist, etc), why did she call the professional boxer who dresses like a cat?

3. For that matter, you'd expect Ted Grant to have more common sense than to wear his costume when he's supposed to be observing someone unseen.

4. You'd also expect Ted to have better sense than to jump through a friend's kitchen window, breaking the glass, just to show off.

5. I don't like the idea that Dinah Sr. gave up heroing just to be a stay at home mom. Didn't even run the Floral shop as a side business, it seems. Hardly seems like the actions of a woman who would become a superheroine in the first place.

6. I REALLY don't like how the decision to become a superheroine seems to have been suggested to Dinah Jr. by Ted, rather than it being her idea before she went to Ted begging for training behind the back of her disapproving mother. Again, I skimmed... but that's I think the book played out.

I really need to stop glancing through this book. It does me no good and I think I'm preaching to the choir at this point about how this comic sucks.

EDIT NOTE: I forgot to mention this as I was trying to remember the story writing the above, but in the last splash panel depicting Dinah - no longer depressed as she was a relative page earlier at the revelation that she inspired a super-villain to villainy - is jumping over the rooftops in triumph...

... with the front of her costume clearly unzipped. Seriously, the ring to her zipper is right there around her cleavage!

EDIT TO THE EDIT NOTE: Thanks to innerbrat for scanning this for me.


  1. 4. You'd also expect Ted to have better sense than to jump through a friend's kitchen window, breaking the glass, just to show off.
    #21 was the final issue I picked up of this trash, and my first thought in the flashback scene was "Why in hell is Ted crashing through the window? He's a friend! Not a supervillian! Use the damned door, Ted!"
    My decision to cut up these issues for decoration purposes gets more resolved as the days go by.


  2. My decision to cut up these issues for decoration purposes gets more resolved as the days go by.

    Please tell me you are making them into a tasteful potpourri and not using them to permanently decorate an item you care about. I shudder to think of what foul energies might infect anything choose to use this book to decorate.

  3. I'm cutting out the majority of the text and keeping the art. I actually used some of the panels to create a really great silent Dinah story. She's walking. She's kicking ass. She's running. She's kicking ass. When you take out all the ridiculous dialogue that makes her an idiot, the story is great.

  4. When you take out all the ridiculous dialogue that makes her an idiot, the story is great.
    Sort of like how Garfield becomes an absurdist comedy if you remove Garfield from it.
    Send me a link to that comic once you get it on-line. :)
    Speaking of which, thank you. You reminded me of something I forgot to mention in the review. Check out the edit at the end above.

  5. (Followed a link here from Google Blog Search, curious about how much of a train wreck this issue would be. Love the review, btw!)
    This is what I've been saying about Ed Benes forever: stop hobbling his talents by forcing him to following a story, just let him draw ridiculously proportioned blowup dolls for hose who can appreciate it. :)

  6. Wow. I didn't know Google had that service. Or that it would archive THAT quickly.
    Just for the sake of clarity, you're referring to the above discussion with , right? Ed Benes isn't the artist on Green Arrow/Black Canary. I wish he was though because while his work is utter cheesecake, at least he had the decency to let Dinah keep her top zipped.
    That being said, I'm amazed Ed Benes doesn't do more covers and less books.

  7. Right. Talking about ignoring the words but enjoying the art. I'm not a big fan of Ed Benes on comics, because of...well...Ed Benes. However, if I switch my brain's critical thinking off and stare long enough that I drool a bit, I start to appreciate his style. :)

  8. The sad thing is I can forgive Benes because - unlike say, oh Frank Cho - he is capable of drawing more than one body type.

  9. And yet I will still download the issue for icon purposes.
    But but but - I BLOODY KNEW IT. I saw Kreisburg telegraphing the "actually Dinah doesn't know squat" retcon from months back and it hurt to even consider it. He's ruined everything that makes her awesome.

  10. *nods sadly*
    When you get the issue, could you post the page I describe in the EDIT note above or send it to me so I can post it? I've been hitting the writing pretty hard on this book. I need to get at the art too.

  11. a young musician, who became inspired to build a device that could cure his deafness, instill deafness in others and release sonic blasts. Calls himself Discord.
    ...uh. Does Piper know someone stole his gimmick?
    Besides, I thought it was Arrow tradition to rip off BATMAN, not Flash. :)

  12. ... I can't believe I forgot about freaking Pied Piper.
    You sir, have just won the Internet.
    Could you do me a favor and post that on the DC Comics boards? There's a troll there who keeps insisting that Discord is a great character and is NOT a rip-off of the similarly themed Shriek from Batman Beyond.

  13. You'll be gratified to know that this is my last Green Arrow/Black Canary. The story arc is over, and I'm done with the series. At least until someone new comes aboard.
    What I can't figure out is, I stuck it out with Winick. He wore out his welcome. I swore I wouldn't buy anything he wrote again.
    And then he went and wrote some good Dick Grayson bits in Batman. Now I'm tempted by that series.

  14. Why is Dinah Sr. terrified of the possibility that her daughter is a metahuman? This isn't Marvel, for crying out loud!
    considering the way most of the JSA was I can only assume she was concerned she had a dangerous power that couldn't be controlled. Most JSA members who had powers remove them. Flash and Spectre are the only exceptions I can think of.

  15. It's not that they COULD remove them. Most of them just got their powers from an outside source. Looking at the list of the original JSA...
    Atom - atomic punches - power only activated when he wanted it too.
    Sandman - prophetic visions he couldn't control.
    Spectre - bound to angel
    Flash - super-speed, only activated when he wants it too.
    Hawkman - removable wings
    Dr. Fate - powerful magician, but got most of powers from removable helmet
    Green Lantern - removable ring
    Hourman - took pill to gain super powers.
    You go by the original 8, it is half and half with all those who had powers that couldn't be removed in full control of those powers... except Sandman.
    Add in Starman, Liberty Bell and all the other late-comers to the JSA, there's still not really anyone who would serve as a warning to Dinah about the dangers of unchecked superpowers.
    There's also the fact that while I can believe a mother would be worried about her daughter, I can't quite imagine a tough bird like Dinah sobbing into the phone.

  16. I can think of three possibilities...
    1. We do crazy things when we are young.
    2. You are one of those rare folks who expects the best of people.
    3. You are a gullible shmuck. :)

  17. I'm afraid to crack it open and read it again, but I got the impression that Dinah Drake Lance's husband died in the line of duty and she wanted to make sure her daughter didn't go that way either.
    Of course, that might be just me doing a 'no-prize' explanation.

  18. Dinah spent the entire arc with her costume undone, but this is the only picture in which the teeth of her undone zipper are obvious.

    Dear Bob, that was awful. I'd seen some of the scans and read your review; but still, it was awful. Holy crap.
    This scan wasn't nearly as terrifying as the one a few pages later where her eyes are glowing red.

  19. *nods* See, I THOUGHT the art seemed to show that Dinah's costume was actually unzipped and the zipper defined but common sense dicated I had to be wrong.
    Apparently my memory is less faulty than my common sense, which pleases me somewhat. :)
    Thank you for the scan. I think this is worth of it's own post.

  20. If it weren't for the crying, I could see that - it was much the same explanation for why Dinah was rebelling against her mom by continuing her legacy.
    But it doesn't make any sense given that it's been shown that Dinah Sr.'s motivation was not wanting her daughter to live the same life as her more than it was than worrying about Dinah Jr.'s safety.

  21. Would you like any more? The cover is as usual much much worse than the interior, and the back up feature - well.

  22. No, that's enough. That Dinah image pretty much makes every point I have to make about ohdeargodtheartishorrible!