Posted by: Brian Hibbs on December 14, 2007
I only read this book because I am a total fangirl for artist Cliff Chiang. The storyline, by Judd Winick, is Ass.
I think everyone’s figured out by now that Green Arrow isn’t really dead, and Black Canary is remarkably clear-headed for someone who just a few months ago thought she’d killed her new husband and long-time love on their wedding night. But that’s the problem with comparing superhero comics to real life. What would be institutionalizable fixations in our world — no, he’s not really dead, an alien or clone is impersonating him — make perfect sense in DC world, so it’s kind of hard to relate.
Anyway, BC is undergoing a trial by combat to prove she’s worthy of becoming the Amazons’ new fight trainer … which I also find unbelievable. I don’t care how good she is. A group of immortal warriors who’ve been around for millennia can take care of their own combat training, I think. But it got her and little miss idiocy onto the island. (All Speedy or Red Arrow or girl whose name is never given in the comic (although Conner is named five times) does is sit around narrating the plot interspersed with classless comments that almost give away what little the gang has in terms of a plot.)
Let’s look at the pictures some more. Chiang draws a stunning, regal Hippolyta and a fiercely strong Canary. More, please.
After ripping off Butch Cassidy (it’s still a ripoff even if you quote it directly), there’s a chamber pot pee joke (No! Really! In the 21st century!) and the revelation that Green Arrow’s imitator blew the doppelganger plan because he was impotent. … … I haven’t seen THAT motivation in superhero comics before. Although with all that spandex holding everything so close to the body it doesn’t even show as a bulge, it makes sense.
I am very impressed that, called upon to illustrate the stunning Canary dialogue “He couldn’t get his engines going… even with me?” while our heroine is wearing a bra, panties, and garter belt, Chiang keeps her looking like a person. He’s more concerned with expressing the figure’s emotion than showing off her goodies. After too many years of Birds of Prey art that took the opposite approach, I say bravo. And he draws holes in her fishnets! (Not the ones that are supposed to be there, actual costume damage. Those things rip at the slightest opportunity.)
The dumbest part of the whole book, though… I know, it’s been pretty dumb up until now, and I didn’t even mention how many times old-enough-to-be-a-grandad Arrow simply outruns a whole gang of Amazons on his tail… is the ending, which I am about to spoil.
Not three pages after the touching “I knew you weren’t really dead” reunion of the title characters, Connor is shot and presumed dead. By a cloud. This would have made for a more compelling cliffhanger (except for the cloud part) if the whole rest of the book wasn’t about rescuing someone thought to have been dead. It’s a bad writer’s way of undercutting his own story by going for the cheap-and-easy “shocking” last page.
Given the previous debates over Connor (“it’s possible for him to be gay, and that would be refreshing and sensible” vs. one of his writer’s demented hypocrisy on the subject, where he’d rather have the character make out with his father’s rapist than admit the possibility), it’s disconcerting to see him chosen as sacrificial victim this go-round. Even if he’s not attracted to men, it was neat seeing a character not defined by his sexuality to the point where it was an open question.
Anyway, I trust I’ve made my feelings known.