ACW #627 – Black Canary

Action Comics Weekly #627 (Black Canary)
“knock ’em Dead, Part 4”
Writer – Sharon Wright
Pencils – Randy DuBurke
Inks – Pablo Marcos
Letters – Steve Haynie
Colors – Gene D’Angelo
Editor – Robert Greenberger

Wow, it feels like we just discussed Black Canary, doesn’t it?  It looks like from this point on, Dinah will no longer be “anchoring” Action Comics Weekly.

Well, last week was a “not so bad” installment… can we make it two???

We open with everybody wondering “why?”.  Why kill Walt Sarno… and why now?  Frankly, I’m not sure I could’ve picked Walt Sarno out of a lineup if I had to… and all I know about the dude is that he had the inside-track to getting floral arrangements into the window at Macy’s.  Among those asking “why?” is a man named Ken Glazier… who, though the art isn’t terribly clear, is someone we’ve already met a couple of times.  Another interested party is… Black Canary, who at this very moment is pretending to be a prostitute in order to chat up various ladies of the night.

It isn’t long before she gets some answers.  Turns out the Barfly Murderess is a woman who they all call “The Deb”.  Name’s Deborah, but she acts all proper like a debutante.  Ya see, she had a different sort of philosophy regarding the sex-worker industry… why “do the deed”, when you could just kill the “John” and take the cash?

Just then a very rough looking woman enters… and for once, that’s not an indictment on the art.  This woman’s clearly seen some stuff.  Anyhoo, she brandishes a blade and threatens one of the women… to which, Canary beats the hell out of her with a loaded purse.

The rough woman recovers and comes at Dinah again.  This doesn’t end well for her… though during the scuffle, she is able to relieve our hero of her chunky necklace.  When the dust settles, Dinah gets more of the skinny regarding “The Deb”.  She’s a heroin addict, who has a dealer named Rich.  Aside from dealing dope, Rich runs a “funny-named” music store.

Before our gal can follow this lead, however, Seattle’s finest arrive on the scene to haul her in for questioning.  Whoops.

We close out at “Rich’s It’s Instrumental” (yeah, that kind of is a funny name).  Sure enough, The Deb is staying there.  Rich (whose face we don’t get to see) hands her some heroin, and tells her to lay low until the pressure is off.  The Deb looks at a photo of a little girl, and says goodnight before hitting the lights.

Wow… is that two “not so bad” chapters of Black Canary in a row?!  They said it couldn’t be done… and by “they”, I mean “me”.  Me said it couldn’t be done!

This isn’t the greatest thing in the world… but, compared to what I was expecting it to be?  This is pretty darn good.  Not sure about Dinah posing as a prostitute… I mean, shouldn’t people know her as a superhero?  She was on the Justice League, right?  Pre-Crisis and Post-Crisis.  Hell, not long before this she was retroactively made a founding member (replacing Wonder Woman)!

If we brush that aside though, this was a good outing.  The ongoing Green Arrow book (written by Sharon Wright’s then husband) was very “street level” take on the character… and this feels like more of the same.  Dealing with ladies of the evening, hard drugs, and even the AIDS epidemic… there’s an attempt at gritty relevance here… and for the most part, it succeeds in evoking the issues of the day.

Where this suffers… and I hate to harp, is the art.  Ya know, when Black Canary returned, what I was most excited for was Randy DuBurke’s new “Kelley Jones-esque” art style.  I felt like it would add a fun element to this feature… but so far, it’s only made the story difficult to follow at best, and damned unpleasant at worst.  I still like the way Dinah herself is rendered… but, the world around her is pretty rough.

Overall, this chapter has bought another week of my cautious optimism.

Tomorrow: Clark and Bob… still driving through the desert.

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