At the age of eight I was introduced to the Black Canary in the pages of Justice League of America #82 (August, 1970). At the time, she was the sole female member of the JLA, and, as drawn by regular JLA artists Dick Dillin and Joe Giella, quite pretty in those fishnet stockings.
When I officially started collecting DC comics in the spring of 1972 — having reached the far more advanced age of ten — Black Canary was still the sole member of the JLA and still as pretty as ever in the consistently capable drawing hands of Dillin and Giella.
Over in Adventure Comics, Black Canary was featured in a two-part backup tale written by Denny O’Neil and illustrated by Alex Toth. While she wore the same costume and had the same long blonde hair (wig, actually), there was something different about Toth’s rendition of the Blonde Bombshell. Dillin’s depiction was adequate, but stiff at times. Under Toth’s direction, she was stylish, sultry, and vigorous; she seemed to flow effortlessly from panel to panel instead of appearing in a series of sequential stills. She was exuberant and suddenly somewhat intimidating.
Though I couldn’t define or explain it at the age of ten, I understood I was feeling something new about what I was seeing in my favorite superheroine.
Black Canary was sexy. Thank you, Mr. Toth.
SBC’s Thom Young brought to my attention that I misused the term “deconstructive” in my ‘review’ of All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #4 last week. To right matters I’m throwing out that word and replacing it with “reconstructive,” as in Frank Miller is reconstructing the origin of Robin to suit his interpretation of the meeting of Batman and the young Dick Grayson.
A knowledgeable book like The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide will put a comic like Claw the Unconquered in its rightful place, but there remain a few of us who thought Claw was the coolest sword and sorcery character around during his fleeting heyday, and how can any critical assessment stand up against those who were there and loving it? Which brings me to the current Red Sonja/Claw title. There are, what? , maybe twenty diehard Claw fans still reading comics and we are rejoicing! I’ve never been a Red Sonja fan, but I’ve long been a Claw the Unconquered fan. Claw had his own comic from February of 1975 until June of 1976 and for the first five months of 1978, twelve issues in all. Writer David Michelinie created and chronicled and artists Ernie Chua and Keith Giffen illustrated the tormented barbarian’s savage exploits, and I continue to recall and reread them with great fondness. I have no problem with Claw’s comeback, at least not so far; Claw’s world remains familiar, and Layman and Smith are to be commended for sticking to the character’s original roots and look. But what’s with this Red Sonja chick? Talk about a distraction (she is no Black Canary as far as I’m concerned), why couldn’t she have really lost her head on the first page?
In the heat of World War II, Sgt. Rock and Easy Company parachute into battle-ravaged Lithuania to pick up and deliver to American forces a valuable package that could help stop the war. But there are Germans to the west, Russians to the east, and the trappings and tragedies of war all around them. A mission toward peace could instead destroy them all. Kubert’s tale is heart-pounding and -wrenching, whether time and/or a demanding following will rank this among his best remains to be seen. I think it’s riveting, thoughtful, intense, and pulls no punches, on a par with his Tarzan and Fax From Sarajevo.
The spirit of those wonderful Joe Orlando-edited DC mystery comics of the 1970s can be found in “Back Bone,” the first story in Solo #6 (October, 2005), which spotlights the artwork of Jordi Bernet. Reading writer John Arcudi’s tale of a mysterious and secretive pig-gutter who comes to 1950s Rosada, Texas to live with Mrs. Chisolm and her daughter Lainie brought back many fine memories of Weird Mystery Tales and House of Secrets. Actually, “Back Bone” would’ve fit snugly in the more humorous PLOP! The last page, where Lainie shows her mom that there’s more to Mr. Bradley Rayburn than Lainie could ever convince her mom by trying to tell her, is a hoot. Good, clean, harmlessly frightful summer comics reading fun. Aren’t those the kind of new memories we’re looking for this time of year?