ACW #615 – Black Canary

Action Comics Weekly #615 (Black Canary)
“Bitter Fruit, Part 7”
Writer – Sharon Wright
Pencils – Randy DuBurke
Inks – Pablo Marcos
Letters – Steve Haynie
Colors – Gene D’Angelo
Editor – Mike Gold

Penultimate Canary… I… I got nothin’.

We open with Hollywood Doug checking his answering machine, and listening to the message left for him by “Bonnie Cardinal”.  She reveals that she knows who attacked Hector Librado, and proposes a meeting later that week.  They meet in Greenlake Park, and Bonnie/Dinah is pretty surprised to see this strange bald man instead of the cowboy she was probably expecting.  “Hollywood Doug” proves himself the real-deal, and offers up that “Cowboy Doug” is likely Gary DeMott, an associate of Victor Scales.  Wow, are we finally going to start giving faces to the onslaught of names we’ve been buried in?!  Considering that there’s like 12 pages of this arc left, I sure hope so!

So Doug, the real Doug, explains that he once worked for Scales himself as a crop-duster and sales rep.  Apparently some of Scales’ products weren’t entirely safe, and upon discovery of this fact, Doug decided to explore other career options with Pacific Northwest Airlines.  Thing of it is, he’d been exposed to Scales’ products, which rendered him unfit to fly!  Guess those newspaper clippings from the first couple of chapters were referring to this guy?  Anyhoo, Doug describes his symptoms as something akin to emphysema… which, just so happens to be some of the same stuff Hector Librado is dealing with!

And so, Doug hired a lawyer, Barry Neiman, to track Librado down to corroborate his case that Scales’ stuff messed up his respiratory system… but, it looks like somebody got to him first!

Wow, that third panel really makes great use of space!

We shift scenes to a boat… it looks as though Gary DeMott (Cowboy Doug) and Weird Beard (at least I think it’s him) are on board.  From here, we join Ellen Waverly… you remember her, right?  She’s that woman from the I.N.S. who was working on the Librado file.  Though, I would understand if you didn’t… since she looks completely different in this scene.  Anyhoo, that loud-jacketed fella from last week kills her.

Next, at Calon Hospital, Weird Beard goes to check in on Hector… so, maybe that wasn’t him on the boat?  I’m tellin’ ya, the art here makes it a bit tough to tell people apart… or, to be honest, even recognize them in the first place.  Anyhoo, he’s advised that Hector’s in a coma… which is overheard by Dinah, who decides to follow this Weird-Bearded stranger out.

She follows him all the way to Ellen Waverly’s place (walking right past ol’ broad-shoulders), where, upon discovery of her corpse, he freaks out and runs away.  Dinah peeks into the apartment before giving chase.

Here it’s finally revealed that Weird Beard is… Doug Vallines’ lawyer, Barry Neiman.  So, yeah, one of the good guys!  Barry calls Doug via his fancy car phone and learns that his client is about to go after Scales directly!

Scales is apparently on board the boat… not that I could tell, thanks to the art.  Doug plans to track Scales via his seaplane.  Dinah ain’t got time to wait for a boat, and so, she leaps into the drink to follow dat boat!

I don’t like being a negative guy… I hope that is something you all can pick up on.  For the past three and a half-ish years, I’ve reviewed something from DC Comics every single day.  Generally speaking, it was something of my choosing… an individual issue that interested me enough to where I wanted to share my thoughts.  Oftentimes, those thoughts would be positive.  So positive, that I’d actually received a bit of criticism and accusations of being a “DC homer” of sorts.

This Black Canary arc though.  You guys, it’s just no good.  Worst part is, I can’t even summon up any anger to really give it a more entertaining (at least to me) discussion.  This isn’t like Superman: Grounded, where I can really dig my heels in and let loose… this barely evokes a yawn.

If we were to look at an “Abstract” for Bitter Fruit, it doesn’t sound like too bad an idea for a story.  Sure, it’s agenda-driven, and absolutely dripping with “commentary”… but, the elevator pitch for this story might actually sound interesting.  When we break away from the “Abstract” and try and make this a fully-fleshed out story… I’m sorry, it’s just poor.  The pacing in both writing and art is shoddy at best, and we’ve got this embarrassment of riches when it comes to un-fleshed-out characters that it’s nearly impossible to give half-a-damn about a single one of them!

Here we are, what, 56 pages (out of 64) into this story… and we’re just barely putting faces to names?  This isn’t good storytelling!  These aren’t “reveals”!  If you keep hammering us with new characters at every turn, you’re not really “slipping one past the goalie” when you reveal that one of the several guys we might’ve thought was bad, is actually good.

Hurting the “impact” even more is the art, where faces keep blending together… and changing from panel to panel!  There is a guy who looks a lot like “Weird Beard” Barry Whatshisface on Scales’ boat.  Ellen Waverly has a completely different look… when I first saw her here, I was sure she was a member of the Librado family!  When the “beats” of a story hinge on these character moments, it would help a great deal to have them all “on model”… and leave as many confounding-characters off the page!

Overall… this has been a slog.  Thankfully there’s only one week left before we get a break from this feature!

Tomorrow: Doin’ it up, 615!

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