Tag Archive: Black Canary


   

Review by C.J. Bunce

If you’re lucky enough to land yourself a copy of Terry Moore’s Rachel Rising, Issue #1 or #2, do yourself a favor and grab it and pick up a few extra for your friends as this one is very hard to come by.  For whatever reason, comic retailers have not ordered big enough quantities.

If you’re not familiar with Terry Moore, his two big series over the past two decades were the mega-hit Strangers In Paradise and the more recent supernatural series Echo.  This year at Comic-Con Moore was selling his how-to ‘zine How to Draw Women.  If there is one thing he knows, it is drawing the female form.  Moore’s style is truly his own–he uses very few lines to capture incredible expressions and emotion in his characters.  I’d put Moore’s women drawings in an exclusive league with Frank Cho and Michael Turner, with Cliff Chiang soon to be a member of that elite group.

In Strangers In Paradise, Moore used a close relationship between roommates to create an ongoing drama that want on to form several volumes.  In Echo, he moved into more of the fantasy realm.  With Rachel Rising, he has landed firmly in the dark, creepy, macabre world of comics.  His art in all three series is black and white–something that might put off readers of other books, but Moore uses black and white’s starkness and contrasts to create a moods you won’t find in DC Comics or Marvel Comics titles.  I haven’t even mentioned yet that Moore is the writer, penciller and inker of his books, which are published by his wife.  Serving triple duty must be tough, but Moore makes it all look easy.

In Issue #1, Rachel wakes up in the woods in a shallow grave.  Over the course of Issue #1 and #2, Rachel encounters people who know her but don’t believe she really is Rachel.  She learns she has lost three days of her life.  Her glowing eyes reveal something, but what that means fully is not yet revealed.  She finds an aunt who she tries to get to help her, but her aunt is a strange breed who claims to see dead people, and as she is a mortician, she gets plenty of opportunity.

Is this going the way of Eliza Dushku’s TV series Tru Calling?  That would be fun.  In Tru Calling she worked in a morgue where dead people talked to her.  Terry’s dark-haired characters look a bit like Dushku.  When Echo came out, I asked Moore about the naming process and he said he was unaware that Dushku was playing a character starting about the same time on Joss Whedon’s short-lived Dollhouse TV series.   All just a crazy coincidence.   I’ll just go out on a limb and nominate Dushku for a role in a future movie based on Moore’s books.

But don’t think Moore’s friendly style is not as ghoulish as the next guy’s stories.  There are plenty of cringeworthy scenes in these first two issues, including the subtle but disturbing aunt who proceeds to perform “mortician’s work” while rambling away with Rachel.  As many questions about Rachel and Company are asked as are answered, so we can look forward to a good progression of story over several issues.

I first met Terry and his wife Robyn, who is the publisher of his books under the Abstract Studios label, at Comic-Con back in 2008 when Echo was released.  I got to Terry’s booth early enough that he spent the Friday sketching his famous characters Francine and Katchoo for me as my favorite superhero team Green Arrow and Black Canary.  Robyn couldn’t be nicer.  My wife and I met up with Terry and Robyn again at Comic-Con this year at Jeff Smith’s 20th anniversary of Bone party (that’s Terry above in San Diego this July), and we had a great time chatting.

I’d hoped to review this series sooner, but could not track down Issue #1.  I finally had to drive three hours away to find a copy of Issue #1 and I am hoping the distributors get their acts together so it will be easier to track down Issue #3, due out soon.

Review by C.J. Bunce

(with spoilers)

Writer Tony S. Daniel may have created a nearly perfect origin story, although it actually starts at the end for Hawkman, and we don’t really know the origin of his powers.  But if this is the first issue of Hawkman you ever read, you will be instantly hooked, just as this reader was.

Hawkman was that stoic hero that stood in the background of full-scale Justice League adventures.  He and Hawkgirl always looked cool, quick to sweep into the scene with full wings spread, ready for any brawl.  One of my favorite exchanges in recent Green Arrow stories is a presumed argument between resurrected Green Arrow and Hawkman in Green Arrow 12 that turns into a full-on laugh fest/yuk it up at the expense of Dinah Lance/Black Canary.  Here is Matt Wagner’s original artwork for that issue:

And let’s face it, Hawkman has always had one of the best costumes around.  How many people have doodled this guy in the margin of papers in school?

But a series all his own?  And why is he “savage” Hawkman?

Even a comic book of 24 pages sometimes takes a few sittings.  You want to give every page its due.   And for $2.99 you’ve got to get as much bang for your buck as possible.  Savage Hawkman #1 is a one-sitting read, not because it is a “quick read” but because you just can’t put it down.

The story starts at The End.  Actually the end for whatever came before, as Hawkman has evidently experienced all he can take and is ready to throw in the towel.  But something called the Nth metal will not let him leave.  It keeps pulling him back in.

Hawkman is really Carter Hall, a linguistics expert/Eqyptologist whose name instantly conjures the ghost of Howard Carter (the Eqyptologist who discovered King Tut).  In trying to burn his very awesome Hawkman super suit, the suit has different ideas.  Carter wants to kill Hawkman.  But he can’t.  It won’t let him.  Flash forward.  A team.  An archaeological dig.  Aliens?  We need to call in the expert.  No one knows where he is?  Find him.  Mummified aliens.  Wait a second, they’re not dead?  And in nice Incredible Hulk-like fashion we find out what happened to the super suit.  Don’t make him angry.  You won’t like him when he’s angry.   (We do).  And the result is even cooler than we thought.  Where can we get some of that Nth metal anyway?

Tony Daniel described Hawkman as “Indiana Jones fighting alien threats.”  That’s pretty good.  You’ve gotta love when the creators know their character and want to bring out the best in that character.  Philip Tan’s painterly art has great style.  I don’t know whether it is because Hawkman looks so much like Warlord, but Tan’s style reminds me of Mike Grell.  Hard to beat a comparison like that.  For anyone with no background on Hawkman, this would be a good first comic book to pick up and plunge right in.

Green Arrow, a borg?  Seriously?  I’ll explain.  But first some background for those who don’t follow him or (gasp!) never heard of the longbow hunter, especially since DC Comics last week announced (as reported here) he is one of the 52 DC picks getting his own series this September.  (Not to be confused with the other green JLA member hitting the theaters this weekend).

As a lifelong comic book fan my favorite character in comics is Green Arrow.  Like most comic superheroes Green Arrow, the alias of billionaire Oliver Queen, has died or was believed dead and has returned as only comic book superheros can.  In the past 7o years you’ll find him featured as a background character and then get his own title comic and then get lost in the background again, with his real renaissance and staying power starting in the 1970s.  In disguise Green Arrow dresses somewhat like Robin Hood, is a superb archer (who at times has a quiver of trick arrows) and once was mayor of Star City (and in my favorite incarnation lived in modern day Seattle, Washington).  It’s not hard to spot that Green Arrow at first appeared as a Bruce Wayne knockoff, often possessing the same detective skills as the dark knight.  Here is a previously unpublished drawing of the classic Green Arrow as seen by renowned comic book artist Howard Chaykin:

Green Arrow was created about the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 by DC artists George Papp and Mort Weisinger, the DC editor who also created Aquaman (and published the book “1001 Valuable Things You Can Get Free”).  Green Arrow had a sidekick named Speedy and together they generally seemed to mirror Batman and Robin in general look and action.  For his first few decades it was easy to see Green Arrow lost in the large cast of DC characters.  He was a clean cut guy with a feather in his Robin Hood cap.  Speedy would have passed for Green Arrow, only donning a red outfit instead of green.

In 1969 artist Neal Adams overhauled Green Arrow’s look, giving him a more detailed costume and a goatee, with his new (and largely still current) look first seen in The Brave and the Bold #85.  Later that year writer Dennis O’Neil followed up by overhauling Oliver’s back story and attitude in issue 75 of the Justice League of America series.  GA had lost his fortune and his response was becoming an outspoken advocate of the underprivileged.  No longer just another superhero in tights, Green Arrow actually looked tough and became an advocate for everyman.

Adams and O’Neil came together in 1970 to focus on Green Arrow and in doing so started an entirely new age of comics and comics storytelling.  With issue 76 of the regular Green Lantern series, Oliver Queen joined up with Lantern Hal Jordan and Queen’s now girlfriend Dinah Lance, alias Black Canary.  The three started a road trip across America over the next year and Oliver and Hal had the feel of a Butch and Sundance partnership, with Dinah rounding out the trio of “Hard Traveling Heroes,” advocating social change and fixing the America’s problems one town and at time.  Green Lantern 76 (co-titled “Green Lantern/Green Arrow”) is a highly sought-after issue today, fetching thousands of dollars in mint condition.  The short series within a series peaked with issues 85-86, when Oliver learns Speedy was addicted to drugs.  In one short series comics changed from the clean-cut comics of the Dennis the Menace era to the beginnings of modern comics that would later bring us a dark brooding Batman in the 1980s “Dark Knight Returns” mini-series.  Comic historians universally tag Green Lantern 76 (below) as the first modern “Bronze Age” comic book.


In hindsight it is difficult to understand why the Adams/O’Neil run didn’t keep going.  But Green Arrow again got relegated to fill-in stories in Flash 217-219, Justice League, Action Comics and World’s Finest Comics with a brief resurgence with Hal in the Green Lantern series where artist Mike Grell first starts drawing as the regular Green Arrow artist.   Here is the original comic art of a classic Silver Age Justice League version of Green Arrow and Black Canary by the late Don Heck with Romeo Tanghal inks:

In 1983 for the first time Green Arrow got a solo book.  Prior to the late 1980s comic books looked pretty much the same, with prices rising steadily but not much in terms of change of media.  Then in 1986 Frank Miller published The Dark Knight Returns series in a thin trade paperback style—what we now think of as graphic novels.  Frank Miller’s Batman was a washed-up anti-hero in retirement, pessimistic and angry, drawn in a loud and sprawling style that reminded me of Howard Chaykin.  I first took note of the new comic format when my friend had a copy of The Killing Joke sitting on his music stand in school (when the conductor saw it he flung it across the room).  The Killing Joke was a gritty look at the Joker’s origin story and garnered its own public responses of the “comics aren’t what they used to be” variety.  Most notably The Joker attacks beloved character Barbara Gordon/Batgirl who permanently loses the use of her legs—a story element that we learned last week is now going away with the DC reboot in September.  Story-wise, DC raised the stakes for all comics with these two titles.  As to incredible color and page quality, the comic book medium had finally arrived.

In 1987 Mike Grell began to write and illustrate Green Arrow in his own limited “prestige format” title: The Longbow Hunters.  Grell here again redefined Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance’s/Black Canary’s relationship into its current form.  Other than noticing him as an extra in Justice League of America, my fascination with this character came with Grell’s new regular series that debuted soon after Longbow Hunters, with the first ever Green Arrow “annual” a three-part story along with the first Detective Comics annual and the first annual of the short-lived Question series.  Displacing the long dead “Comics Code” label with a new “Mature Reader” warning, Green Arrow was a new series any teen would be drawn toward.  Grell stripped away most of Queen’s superhero components and he instead became just another guy in Seattle, but using his detective skills to fight crime on the side, while he and Dinah ran a floral shop called the Sherwood Florist as a seemingly normal couple.  It may sound a little hokey but the relationship worked.  At a time when teens define who they are, you could do a lot worse than being exposed to the stories of Oliver and Dinah.  These two acknowledged the troubles and realities of the real world and their real power was in making the decision to reach out and lend a hand to others.  Mike Grell’s art and stories cemented for me the quintessential Green Arrow and Black Canary.   Below is a previously unpublished Grell sketch of his hooded longbow hunter Oliver and Dinah:


So in the coming weeks I plan to share more information about Green Arrow and Black Canary.  But back to the borg question… is Green Arrow really a borg?  Strangely enough, in Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns, we see the DC universe in the distant future, retired superheroes abound, including Oliver Queen, now missing his left arm from some unexplained encounter with Superman.   By the time Miller followed up DKR with the sequel “The Dark Knight Strikes Again,” Oliver Queen returns as feisty as ever, this time using a replacement mechanical arm.  For that alone, Green Arrow should fit right in here–not today, but in the future of Miller’s vision of tomorrow, even Green Arrow becomes a borg.  Miller’s borgified-armed Green Arrow of the future:

With the new reboot of all the DC universe characters beginning in September, maybe writer JT Krul will fill in some blanks for us about Green Arrow’s future.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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