Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Black Canary #2

Black Canary and Deathstroke shop at the same footwear store.

I don't have any more issues of Black Canary after this so maybe I should discuss how confusing her history was in the DC Universe. Or maybe I'm just not that type of writer. You know, one who researches things and acts as a facts middleman. The things I know, I simply assume other people know. I begin with the assumption that anybody reading a review of a Black Canary comic book comes to it with the knowledge of her confusing Earth One and Earth Two background which forced DC to create a mother/daughter situation that only makes sense if you squint just right after slamming your head in a car door four times. The Non-Certified Spouse says I'm too willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. But no matter how cynical I might seem, I truly believe everybody I meet is my equal until they prove that they're not. Obviously I never assume anybody is more than equal to me! That would be crazy! But I don't meet people and begin with suspicion and doubt. The problem with that is that I generally find I don't have as much to write about. A good portion of intellectual reviewing of art comes down to people quoting more important thinkers and philosophers. But who needs that? I don't want a lesson on some art critic I didn't choose to read or some critic's mathematical proof (using quotes from other critics and philosophers instead of theorems) on how they came to their opinion of some piece of art. I want to hear each individual person's response to the piece. I want to hear something new and unique. Also, it's hard to remember all the literary theorist's names and what each one's philosophy and arguments were! At 48, I don't have time to re-remember all that crap! Plus at 48, I don't have the 20-or-30-something need to prove my intelligence to everybody who comes along. If you think fart and dick and exploding vagina jokes can't be smart and satirical, what do I care?!

I've been away from reading comic books for the last week or so because my brain chemistry might be fucked up. I only say this because one time in my life, I was beyond despair and found myself kneeling in front of a beaded curtain with the image of Ganesha on it, crying and asking for the obstacles in my life to be removed. The next day, my Xbox broke down. If I were into religion, I'd definitely be Hindu. But I'm more into playing Xbox games so instead I just thought, "Ha ha! Good one, Ganesha!" Then I decided I didn't mind feeling like lying in a mud puddle until I drowned if the cure was not playing Halo.

What I'm saying is that I'm not spending any time researching the details of the Black Canary mother/daughter relationship because it might cut into my Apex play time and hating myself.

Remember when stopping villains from robbing banks and enacting strange world domination schemes was fun? But holy gee whiz doody farts, it sure sucks now that they sometimes cut people's heads off and fuck the neck holes.

Previously in this comic book (you know, in issue one!), we learned that a politician was paying people to get homeless people drunk so that they wouldn't put up much of a fuss when they were forced to the polls to vote for the politician. Unfortunately, some of the homeless people died from tainted alcohol which might have simply been formaldehyde. Black Canary remembered how this same scheme was pulled when she was young which caused her to go fight crime for the first time in her mother's costume. I don't think I commented on it in my last review because I didn't know how old she was supposed to be and whether I should say she looked fuckable.

One of the people paid to get homeless people drunk was a punk named Sally. The guy she gave alcohol to died so now she's scared and on the run. Black Canary has decided to help her because who else is going to help her? Green Arrow?! Don't make me laugh until I puke out of my nose and consequently shit myself. I don't know if I used the word "consequently" correctly there but based on past experience, those things totally go together.

I guess a nuclear bomb just went off because Seattle never gets this much sun.

That girl with the mohawk and the hangover is Sally. She disappears after this but Black Canary is on her trail! She's working with the police but since she's not a police, she can do illegal things like break into a crime scene and remove evidence. The police chief just says things like, "Knock that off!" and "Stop giving me all this illegal evidence!" and "You're not real police or else you'd know that you're not doing anything we don't do all the time anyway, young lady!"

Black Canary goes undercover as a prostitute by simply going out in the day in her Black Canary outfit. I bet Nightwing could manage the same thing with those dick huggers he wears. If I didn't think that, I'd have to write a few paragraphs on sexism and how I'm totally against it. Unless the sexism is really feminism and women posing naked for me to jerk off to is empowering. Oops, that was a typo. I meant "for men to jerk off to."

The story flips back and forth between the present and the first time Dinah put on the Black Canary outfit. I think. It's hard to follow the story since it's two similar stories intertwined and I really don't remember the names of the bad guys from the first book. I think Black Canary stops the bad guys in the past and this issue ends with her confronting the politician's muscle as he's about to kill Sally. It ends with a "To Be Concluded" tag but I guess I didn't care enough about the story to go one more issue back in 1993. Even though I liked the mini-series and I enjoyed the first issue! But this issue was just a bit too convoluted so I can see why I either gave Issue #3 a pass or simply forgot I was collecting it. That sometimes used to happen if a story didn't grip me so that it stuck around in my head for a week or two after reading it. A month would pass and I'd simply forget to look for the next issue of a comic I was reading because it just didn't do anything for me. I think that's what happened here.

Black Canary #2 Rating: C. And that was it for my foray into being a Black Canary reader. I think six comics might be more of a chance than I've ever given to Green Arrow so I'd call it a bit of a success on Sarah Byam's part.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Review of The Twilight Zone, Season 1, Episode 19: "War Sucks"

When I write a review of a The Twilight Zone episode, I always change the title. Some of you may have noticed that because you're perceptive lads and laddies (are "laddies" women or just small lads? I guess I should have said "lads and ladies" but then I couldn't have made a parenthetical reference (which are my favorite kinds of references)). My title might be a little bit on the nose although I could have made it more on the noserer by calling it "Death Sucks." But the original title was "The Purple Testament" and if you're wondering what the fuck that has to do with anything, keep fucking wondering because I'm not going to be able to explain it. I mean, sure, Rod Serling explains it in his narration although that dumb ass says it's a quote from William Shakespeare's Richard III when it's actually from Richard II. The quote is "He is come to open the purple testament of bleeding war." So you can see why Rod Serling uses the phrase "The Purple Testament" as his title. Because the story is about war. But why the fuck did William Shakespeare use it?! How should I know? Do I look like a Shakespeare scholar? The one thing anybody would rationally think after reading just a few of my comic book or The Twilight Zone reviews is, "This idiot definitely isn't a Shakespeare scholar." What I know about Shakespeare could fit in a small book of dick jokes. Because that's what he was famous for, right? Dick jokes?

I used to be able to quote the entire end speech by Othello where he's talking about not loving not enough but too much but I've gotten old enough to realize some things aren't important enough to keep taking up brain space. Now the only quote I remember from Shakespeare is "Out vile jelly!" from King Lear. It's my favorite quote to use when some other smart ass person at the party starts going on and on with things like "Life is like a box of chocolates, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing" or "What is this dagger I see perchance sleeping before me" or "Alas, Poor Yorick! I knew him. Notice how I didn't say 'well' at the end of the quote because that's not actually part of the quote and also did you know the next part of this quote is where David Foster Wallace got his title for the book Infinite Jest?" So after they're looking smug and smart showing off their Shakespeare knowledge, I'll say, "Out vile jelly!" Then I make a grinding motion with my foot like I'm putting out Gloucester's eyes! Then I like to follow it up with "Did you know King Lear's daughters were all named after sexually transmitted diseases?" They weren't but a good percentage of the time, I can convince some of the people I'm talking to that Cordelia was actually named Chlamydia.

So the story is a war story and Serling calls it "The Purple Testament" because that's a phrase that's used in a Shakespeare quote that mentions "bleeding war." That's as good as an explanation as you're going to get because I doubt there's anybody in the entire academic world that can tell me what the fuck opening a purple testament has to do with war. The best I can come up with (as an amateur Shakespeare scholar which I suppose I can call myself. You can call yourself anything you want if you just stick "amateur" in front of it!) is that it's either a meta-purple prose comment about Bolingbroke declaring war or it's a dick joke. Either way, it's King Richard saying Bolingbroke has a huge erection for bloody war. The good thing is that you don't need to know anything about Shakespeare to understand this The Twilight Zone episode. Serling only mentions it because he knows everybody is going to be thinking, "What the fuck does a purple testament have to do with this fucking story?!"

The premise of the episode is that a soldier suddenly develops the power to predict which soldiers are about to die. It doesn't help to save them so it's not a power that really matters. At all. Which is kind of both the point and besides the point. See, this guy is fighting a war. Everybody around him could die at any moment. So seeing death in the faces of your fellow soldiers is just a thing you begin to live with. Actually having the power to see the light of death in their faces is just a metaphor for how much war sucks and a bunch of y'all are going to die. At one point, one of the characters actually says, "War sucks." And that's pretty much the only part of the script that matters. War fucking sucks, dude. Which one of these guys is going to die today? It's a mystery but you know it's going to be some of them! Does knowing which ones help? Nope! They're still going to die! So just suck it up and cross your fingers it's not you, even though it probably will be! War sucks!

From the moment the soldier reveals his power to Darrin Stephens, the astute The Twilight Zone viewer knows that he's eventually going to look in a mirror and see his own death. It's the only twist available to the story at that point. The question becomes, "How will the soldier react?" Will he rage against the dying of the light which isn't Shakespeare at all? Unless that Dylan guy stole it from a Shakespeare play (which Shakespeare would have stolen from some other now unknown play anyway!). Or will he just take it in stride and go to his death like a man was supposed to in 1959. Quietly, staunchly, and without tears or complaints. Well, this guy just takes it. Just sucks it up like never you mind. He sees the light in his face. He sees the light in the face of the man driving the Jeep taking him away from battle. And he hears about how there are loads and loads of landmines on the road ahead. And he just sits down, shuts the fuck up, and acts like a 1959 man. What a fucking fool.

It might not be dignified but I would have raised a bit of a fuss. I would have screamed, "I'm not going down that road! We're going to blow up! This guy driving is going to die! I'm going to die! I don't want to die!" But then I'd think, "What if not getting away from the front lines is why I die? Maybe forcing this guy to stay in camp with me is how we both die!? How can I be sure?!" Which is probably what the soldier in the episode already thought in his head. That whole mental struggle about how he's probably powerless to stop his own death symbolically took place when he smashed the mirror after seeing the death light on his face. That was the only time he allowed himself to not act like a 1959 man. Smashing the mirror was a bit hysterical and womanly of him and he quickly composes himself and goes off to die like a fucking idiot. I mean a fucking man.

That bit where I called him "hysterical and womanly" wasn't me believing that, you stupid fucking people who can't comprehend anything you read because you just want to be angry at other people. It was satire about the way people thought in the mid-20th century about gender roles. Try to keep up, asshole.

The most poignant part of the episode is when we learn Darrin Stephens believes the soldier when he leaves behind his family pictures and wedding ring as he goes off to die. He, too, takes all this shit in manly stride. I'm so glad I was raised in the 70s, the only decade when we all believed a human was a human was a human, no matter their gender, race, sexual identity, or ethnicity. Some younger generations today might not believe me when I say that decade existed but that's because they live in a world post-Reagan. He and his conservative asshat brigade were the huge pendulum shift away from a path where we were all beginning to get along with each other and into a world where we were all told to hate each other because everybody else was taking our jobs or giving us AIDS or stealing our VCRs or complaining to HR about how often we touch their bottoms in the workplace.

Did I say a more on the noserer title than "War Sucks" would have been "Death Sucks"? Because I just came up with the on the nosiest title of all: "Life Sucks."

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Black Canary #1

Isn't a black canary just a crow?

I love everything about Black Canary's outfit. The high-heeled boots with the huge cuffs. The gloves with the huge cuffs. The short jacket with the huge shoulder pads. And obviously the fishnet stockings. Maybe the only thing that is a little tiny bit unrealistic (and only because everything else is so on-point realistic!) is that fucking wig. It's too much, man! Although as long as Dinah doesn't mind getting it torn off in battle to reveal her actual identity, I suppose it's a good surprise tactic in battle. Some brutish drug lord thinks he's got her dead to rights as he grabs her hair to pull back her head and woof! Her hair comes off in his hands, he loses his balance, and Black Canary cuts his fucking balls off.

Now I want Black Canary to be infected by the Meta(l)gene so she becomes Death Canary. Maybe instead of a sonic scream, she could emit a poison scream. That fits the theme of the canary in the coal mine which would be a dead canary which is where she got her name, Death Canary. Try to keep up! And if you were keeping up, sorry to be so patronizing, you fucking genius you!

I'm taking a break from Twitter so whenever I get the need to do a Tweet, I'm just going to insert it into my comic book reviews. Like so:

Tweet: "I think I have the Kokomovirus."

That's the kind of brilliant thing people are missing because of the gloating Biden fans who don't care that if I get sick or have a medical emergency, I'm going to die and/or go bankrupt. Oh well! I guess I haven't earned life!

Welcome to the club! It even includes Superman! Unless he's already dead. Which means I should have said, "Which doesn't include Superman. Because he's already dead!" This comic has the same cover date as Superman #75 so I don't know how to word my joke which probably wouldn't make sense to people reading this in 2020 anyway without all the exposition!

Tweet: "I've just discovered my new kink is women hanging from ladders."

Black Canary is tailing a girl, Sally, who has found herself mixed up in some dangerous things. I don't know what those things are but the girl is dressed like an extra from Road Warrior. And not an extra that lives behind the wall of trucks hoarding all of the oil or water or lube or whatever. She looks like one of the people trying to steal the good stuff.

Remember when there was a moment in time when panhandlers being honest seemed charming?

I'm not sure what Black Canary's first clause has to do with her final clause. "He has bad dental hygiene but at least he doesn't lie." I mean, I can sort of see it when I restate it. "Here is a thing he is neglectful of but then again, he has a positive trait." Still, it's clunky. But just looking at a guy and thinking "Ugh! Rotten teeth and bad breath [redundant!]! But at he least he's honest!" seems a bit weird. Her response, "Sorry, no pockets," is the response I'm going to use from now on, even when I'm wearing cargo shorts. Which I only wear in hypothetical sentences although if I did wear them, I would not be ashamed of it. In 2020, it's less likely that a person would have no pockets and more likely they just wouldn't have any cash. Unless a panhandler has ApplePay, they're shit out of luck.

I have two pet peeves when it comes to comic book depictions of objects: getting the pips wrong on dice and getting the stripes wrong on the flag of the United States. And I don't even care about the flag! I just think it's lazy to get it wrong!

Since those aren't real dice, the artist might be commenting on how fuzzy dice producers are lazy assholes who get it wrong all the time. Once every five years, I feel charitable and decide to give an artist the benefit of the doubt.

Because I was angry about the dice, I almost missed the rest of the panel which showed a couple of guys on a stake out. They must be the reason this girl is about to get into trouble! She's fallen in with a dangerous crowd and the cops are ready to bust them! I hope Black Canary saves her from ruining her life! Although I don't know why I hope that. Is it because I trust Black Canary's judgment? Because I really don't give a shit about Ms. Mohawk there. I barely give a shit about myself! If I were walking into a dangerous situation only to discover I was about to be murdered, I'd probably just shrug and think, "Seems fair."

Black Canary tries to reach out to Sally in the bar. She's fifteen years old and on the streets working for a pimp. The girl doesn't want any help and tries to leave but some guy in the bar grabs her. She kicks him in the chest and the guy pulls a gun on her and tries to murder her. Is that the kind of thing we've decided to classify as "boys will be boys"? I'd think of it as a sense of patriarchal entitlement but I think we're saving the word "entitlement" to disparage government programs that help make people's lives better. I fucking hate this world.

Due to the commotion inside the bar, the cops ditch their stakeout and rush the entrance just as the girl is leaving. They grab her and, being that she doesn't know they're cops and they're just more men trying to control and limit her agency, she slices one with a knife. Now the cops also try to shoot her! But Black Canary stops them the way she stopped the other guy. You know, by beating their asses. They'd love to arrest Black Canary but Seattle, unlike the small town in the miniseries, doesn't have laws against women looking hot on the street. Maybe they have laws against assaulting police officers but they don't mind giving her the benefit of the doubt because she works with them better than Green Arrow does. She also distracts them by giving them a different lead to follow.

This is fucked up. This really makes it seem like Black Canary suspected this guy was about to die in this alley from a drug overdose and she simply ignored it!

Black Canary tells the cops that she's seen this kind of thing before. A local politician used booze and drugs to keep get street people to vote for them. The cops are all, "Big deal! There ain't nothing criminal in that memory!" ignoring the fact that Black Canary is just telling it to maybe shine some light on the street person they just found who died of an overdose. Black Canary responds, "Getting people drunk ain't a crime but poll fixing is! And, you know, murder!" Then Black Canary continues to remember when she was a young teen trying on her mom's outfit, eager to become a vigilante.

Black Canary remembers that at least one of the homeless people being kept stoned to keep them happy as they're bused to the polling place to vote for the corrupt politician was blinded by the cheap alcohol being used. To keep the person quiet, one of the corrupt politician's staffers suffocated him and dropped him in an alley. That's why Black Canary has seen this before! It's probably the same corrupt politician! Because the same thing is being done again. Only this time instead of staffers drugging homeless people, he's paying young street kids to hand out the drug-tainted alcohol. And Sally was the one who gave the murder drink to Canary's rotten toothed homeless man! And she's horrified when she learns she killed a guy! But the local politician is all, "There's more money where that came from, murderer!"

Black Canary #1 Rating: B. This is a decent story about a street level hero just trying to do good while trying to also work with local law enforcement. It's probably better written than a number of super hero books at the time but I only continued with this series for one more issue. My guess is that at 21, I was less interested in a well written comic book discussing social ills and more interested in muscular bodies in tight and gaudy outfits punching other muscular bodies in tight and even more gaudy outfits. I know at this time in my life especially, I was really into solid super villains. And nothing could bore me quicker than the villain being a corrupt politician in a suit. Man, the real world would be way more exciting if Donald Trump just bought a mask and a weird fucking purple and green spandex outfit. I say if you're going to go full super villain, look the fucking part, dude.

Black Canary: New Wings #4

Black Canary on the future site of the EMP. Sorry, EMP Museum. Sorry MoPOP.

The covers of this series scream, "Seattle is a major character in this comic book!" But the story whispers, "Do you know where I take place? Shh, shh. Don't worry about it, baby. We took care of that on the cover."

You know how when a movie takes place 20 or 30 years ago, the writer and director have to make sure to pepper it with tons of nostalgic references from that time? What if they did the same thing with movies that take place in the present?

Father: "Holy baloney! A dinosaur made from fire that spits tornadoes is ravaging the Museum of Pop Culture! We have to skip seeing The Rise of Skywalker and get out of town!"
Daughter: "Just let me finish my Fruity Pebbles that turn the milk blue!"
Father:: "Hurry up! And don't forget to grab your Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures!"
Daughter:: "Okay Boomer."

Hmm. I just realized that maybe current movies already do that just to seem current and I just don't notice because why would I notice people mentioning mundane things I hear about every day? I suppose if I watched a movie that was current in 2000, I'd probably roll my eyes at all the stuff they packed in their to remind me of what the year 2000 was like, like meeting people at the gate in airports and being able to keep your shoes on at airports and being able to arrive at an airport five minutes before your plane departed and leaving my machete in my carry on bag at the airport.

For some reason, the airport experience was super different in 2000.

This issue begins with an advertisement for Hercules Luggage.

That elephant is coming its brains out.

The issue begins like this because the suitcases play an important role in the way the drug smugglers offload the cocaine from the ships. I suppose the reader doesn't need to have this much information about the suitcases being used though so I have a different theory. You know how David Finch's contract says that he will only draw a comic book if the writer puts at least one scene with a woman in a towel fresh out of the shower? I bet Trevor Von Eeden had the same kind of stipulation in his contract but with elephant orgasms.

While the suitcases filled with cocaine float three feet under the surface of the ocean (as you would expect being that they were Hercules Luggage!), Black Canary and Gan Nguyen are being threatened by racists. I bet some readers in 1992 wished they could log onto a popular social media platform, find a bunch of other lonely and pathetic assholes, and complain that this comic book is a social justice piece of shit. But instead, they actually had to pull out their letter writing paraphernalia, sit down at their writing desk, and place a pen in their mouth while looking up at the ceiling to decide how to compose their letter. Do they begin stating that they're totally against racism but maybe comic books aren't a good place to shove this stuff down their throat? Maybe they could point out how they're so not racist that they think portraying a bunch of white guys as racist is the real racism? Or maybe they could point out how, not being racist, they already know not to be racist but they think this comic book's nagging about racism might be the real cause of racism? Whatever their letters wound up being about, I bet editor Mike Gold told them to fuck right off, just like he did with all the racist letters sent in reaction to Teen Titans Spotlight on Starfire!

Black Canary and her new sidekick escape the racists and run off into the wilds surrounding Seattle. Meanwhile, the racist assassin's son decides to fuck off and run away from his racist home because he knows racism is bad. I don't know how he figured it out though. I bet he read a comic book about Green Arrow battling werewolves or something.

Black Canary discovers the sheriff is in on the racism by finding his racist stationary he keeps right out in the open.

Not having found the cocaine, Black Canary heads back to the wharf in the morning to stake it out. She discovers the racist assassin going out in a fishing boat with the Senator's son and some semi-automatic rifles. Some people might call them assault rifles but if there's one thing I've learned from Twitter, it's that calling them assault rifles really pisses off the idiots who have no other argument against gun control than to scream, "The AR in AR-15 stands for Armalite!" Oh, also, the racists are using M-16s so none of that matters. It's probably okay to call those assault rifles since the "M" stands for "My assault rifle."

To catch the racists, Black Canary tarts herself off and follows them in a speed boat.

Instead of finishing the quote with "What the fuck," she flips the bird. That must be why this comic book isn't approved by the Comic Code Authority!

I wonder how many super cool valedictorians in the 80s gave speeches that ended with them putting on sunglasses and saying the Risky Business quote? I bet it was like 90% of them.

While Gan and Chad, the racist assassin's son, get help from the Quinault Indians whose backyard the cocaine-filled suitcases are floating, Black Canary rams her speed boat into the drug smuggler's boat. She pretends to be unconscious while they pull her aboard to save her life.

"Aww, she can't feel nothin'!" is the title of my sex tape. Aww, I Can't Feel Nothin'!" is the title of my memoir.

If there's one thing I've learned about empathy, it's that you can't feel any for any creature that isn't comparable to a creature you love. I don't love any dogs so I go around killing dogs all the time. But I have cats so I love cats and would die for them. I also don't have children so fuck children. Not like that! You must not know any children to have acquired empathy for them if you thought I meant that kind of fucking!

Speaking of the cats I love, look who came to visit as soon as I typed that!

It's Gravy!

Maybe Gravy just visited because she heard there was a canary somewhere. Speaking of Canaries with nice asses, Black Canary captures the drug lords and saves the day. Everybody exclaims, "Yay Black Canary! You knew what was going on all along! Next time we'll believe you instead of thinking, 'This woman is hysterical!' At least, that's what it feels like in the moment. But, you know how it is! Tomorrow is another patriarchal, misogynist day and it won't be our faults when we think you're crying wolf again simply because we've learned to take women's words less seriously than men's for no real reason and, I mean, your tits are right there under that shirt and jacket, you lascivious vixen you!"

Oh yeah, also Chad kills his dad to save Black Canary's life. And his dad was finally proud of him! Is that toxic masculinity?

Black Canary: New Wings #4 Rating: A. A well written book that mostly looks good too. Sometimes people look weird and I wonder if somebody was slacking on the pencils or inks because they were doing a load of cocaine at the time. And other times, Black Canary's ass was totally hanging out there which didn't make me think about the male gaze at all. It just made me think, "Look at that fine ass!" But then, 90% of my thoughts any given day are simply "Look at that fine ass!" Except when I'm near a schoolyard, you perv. Then most of my thoughts are, "Please don't make fun of my clothes, you delinquents!" The only complaint I have about this comic book is that it didn't have enough Seattle in it.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Black Canary: New Wings #3

I'm suddenly hungry for cheesecake.

A friend of mine on Twitter has been retweeting #PitMad tweets and I'm losing my mind. If you don't know what Pitch Wars is, it's a thing that takes place on Twitter. Specific days are set aside for up and coming writers to Tweet out short synopsis of their novel idea in the hopes that an agent will love their unique vision and turn them into the next...well, I don't know anybody that ever became a famous writer thanks to Pitch Wars. I'm sure it's happened because there's no way agents could pass up some of these terrific pitches! Especially the ones that begin with two pop culture media hits, implying a wacky mash-up of the two ideas! "PULP FICTION X 101 DALMATIANS! Can Jules convince Vinnie that dog's have personality before he decimates the local Dalmatian population? 'What do I look like, motherfucker? Dead motherfucking dog motherfucking storage?!'" How come the agents are knocking down my door after that pitch?!

It seems the majority of pitches my friend has retweeted have been of the "Teenager discovers magic secret about their family!" variety. "Bartlett doesn't find themselves fitting in at school so they go online to discover a magic tumble blog where everybody's wishes come true. But when porn is banned from the site, are the granted wishes even worth bothering with?!" Here's my other young adult novel pitch: "Randall, a syphilitic werewolf, doesn't believe in science. But when an asteroid heading toward Earth threatens to destroy everything, he teams up with eleven year old science fair winner, Bethany Hateswolves, and a box of raccoons to save humanity." I know that was a joke pitch but I kind of want to write it now.

I probably shouldn't be tweeting joke pitches with the #PitMad hashtag because how will prospective agents be able to tell the real ones from my totally awesome ones?

I wonder what this Black Canary pitch might have looked like? "Black Canary ditches Ollie to fight side-by-side with Vietnamese radio jock Gan Nguyen against white supremacists infiltrating the U.S. government. If that's too on the nose, maybe make the white supremacists werewolves!"

This is some absolutely beautiful and insightful writing. I can't wait to read the letters of butthurt 90s readers!

These panels finally got me to Google Sarah Byam and it turns out she wrote some stories for Elfquest and, at the moment I read that, I thought, "Oh! I felt like the name was familiar." Even though before that moment, I hadn't really thought that the name was that familiar! I think my brain is gaslighting me. She also wrote something called Billi 99 (the tag line for the 4 issue series: "It's 1999... Do You Know Where Your Civil Rights Are?") which I'm almost certainly going to have to dig up, even if Tim Sale was the artist on it. I don't have anything bad to say about Tim Sale! It's just his style (which he has in abundance and which is a good thing to have!) isn't up my back alley.

Last issue, I said the guy running the crack house was the Senator's son. That was my mistake. It looks like he's just some renegade dealer whose going to fuck up the Senator's plan to destroy minorities with crack cocaine. Somehow. I'm not sure how. You'd realize I'm too dumb to understand the plot if you'd remember that thing I said earlier about not comprehending what I was reading last issue. I blame all the acid I took in my twenties even though I don't mean that. I can't be mad at you, acid trips in my twenties. You were the best!

Also, I think the guy I've been calling Senator Garrenger is actually Senator Garrenger's son. Now it makes sense why he looks like a child in a man's suit! That was probably a clue as were the narration and dialogue use to explain the plot which I'm fairly certain I read but who knows? Maybe I was having a flashback.

Black Canary explains the plot to the Seattle Chief of Police which helps my brain go, "Oh! Okay! I'm following this now!" Maybe my complaint that it's hard to follow comic books when there's a full month between each chapter has been wrong this entire time. Because I've just read two issues of a comic book in two days and I'm still confused by the third issue! Has it been my stupid brain all this time? Fucking idiot. You're making me look like a jerk, brain! If only you were as smart as I tell people you are!

I want to make clear: my inability to follow the plot is not a fault with the writing. It's totally me and whatever distractions and inherent biases kept me from comprehending the story. Maybe I shouldn't be reading political twitter posts between every page of the comic book. Hell, sometimes I even put the book down for an hour or so while I play a little bit of the super cheap computer role playing game, The Quest, that I bought on GOG. It's so terrible in so many ways but not in any way that makes playing it not enjoyable. Do you understand what I mean?!

A lot of superhero books purport to be about how you don't have to have super powers to be a hero. They inspire us and we inspire them. But few have ever done it as well as this scene from Black Canary:

How much has been written about super heroes as gatekeepers? Maybe all the Green Lanterns where Hal Jordan is all, "Fuck you, Guy Gardner! You're my shitty back-up!"

All these reviews on this series aren't my usual style. I feel like I'm edging into actual reviewer territory.

With that ass, she can keep my gate any time!

Ah, I feel much better now! Welcome back to the front, acid-brain-damaged me!

I would have only scanned her ass so y'all could get a nice, close-up view of it but then I thought I'd be doing this panel a disservice. Notice how Black Canary's entire body is drawn, exploding outside of the panel lines? It's like this panel is declaring, "Black Canary is more than just her ass! I know! That's quite a claim to make but look! She is also a head and feet, you sexist pigs!"

Man, I'm really getting political!

Here's another take about the panel above that proves I'm an actual reviewer and not just a dumb online jerk who doesn't mind people thinking he jerks off to comic book pictures: Black Canary's ass looks like it was drawn by Chris Ware.

Black Canary hunts down the drug dealer, Drake, whom I thought was the Senator's son while also thinking the Senator's son was the Senator! He almost kills both Black Canary and Gan but his gun runs out of ammunition due to shooting rats in the sewers. That was a scene from earlier that I didn't think was important and now I know why it was important! To show that Drake is a fool who doesn't do the smart gun owner thing: always reload!

While Drake is being taken to the police chief by Black Canary, he gets shot in the head by the white supremacist assassin. He escapes but Black Canary and Gan find clues that link the drug operation to a Neo-Nazi camp outside of Seattle. They go to investigate in hopes of finding a link to the Senator. But before Black Canary can find one, she and Gan are caught by the racists! And no Green Arrow in sight (or on site!) to save the day!

Black Canary: New Wings #3 Rating: A. For a comic book that I could barely get excited about reading because the covers are so uninspiring, it's really surprised me! Hopefully there will be some letters from a bunch of "I'm not a racist but" racists soon!

Not the exact letter I was looking for but good enough! "Too much talk about things that matter!"

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Black Canary: New Wings #2

"How about a photo-realistic view of Downtown Seattle and then I'll just scribble in some mountains up top?" -- Dick. "Please add some Black Canary Colorforms too." -- Editorial.

Even after giving Issue #1 an "A" rating, I still can't believe this issue is going to be anything but boring. Just look at this fucking cover! This is the kind of image a D-list publishing house puts on the cover of a biographical comic book about David Faustino. Did editors at DC think highlighting the city of Seattle in 1991 was going to move units? It's not even recognizable as Seattle! Okay, okay, you fucking Seattlites. Great, you recognized your city instantly! I guess this fucking comic book was for you then, you know-it-all twats. For the rest of us, we need the Space Needle front and center, not washed out in the pink morass over Black Canary's shoulder! You never see an artist for DC drawing an image of Paris without the Eiffel Tower. I mean, maybe not never, exactly. Sometimes they'll throw in the Arc de Triomphe or the Louvre or Notre Dame. But that's kind of the point! All Seattle has is the Space Needle! I'm not shitting on Seattle for that. I live in Portland and what the fuck do we have? A big pink corporate office building?! Oh, sure, we have some spectacular bridges! I forgot about those! Portland is better than Seattle when it comes to recognizable architecture. Although we don't have a troll sucking off a VW Bug under any of our bridges or a huge black cock jutting out of downtown (Big Pink is the best we can muster).

I don't really care which city has better architecture! I can't stand people who feel pride for living in a specific city and then try to emulate the stereotypical person who lives in that city. If you're wondering who the fuck would do that, just watch any local newscaster in any city and watch how they try so fucking hard to be representative of the stereotypes of people who live there. Local news stations should stop airing promos that say shit like "First. Live. Local." Instead, they should just say, "We have no dignity. But we have the news! Although, to be fair, half of it is composed of viral videos everybody but our oldest of olds audience has seen."

Another reason this cover sucks is that it declares the title of this chapter is "Home is Where Ya' Live." Is that some sage Midwestern non-wisdom that people spout in reply to some other person moaning about some problem? Like how when somebody in Lincoln, Nebraska is all, "I was shot in the leg on my way to Runza's!" And then somebody else is all, "It builds character." In California, we didn't have sayings like that. If somebody said, "I was shot in the leg on my way to Taco Bravo!", you would reply, "Dude! That's gnarly!" And they'd go, "I know, right?!" And then you'd be all, "Like, is this going to affect our, like, trip to the beach?" And they'd be all, "Nah brah! I'mma go, like, run some water on it! Good as new, dude!" And you'd say, "Tubular! Gonna go get my board! Catch ya later!" This is because nothing in California builds character. You just start off as a goofy, one-dimensional caricature of a human being and stick with it until you, like, die.

No white male has ever been called uppity and we all know why.

"Uppity" is a great word by which to judge somebody's character. I mean to say, if somebody actually calls somebody else "uppity," you now know way more than that person wanted you to know about what kind of person they are. Especially telling is if somebody doesn't understand why you're judging them for calling somebody "uppity." I stopped associating with way more people than I would have thought possible when they sided against Colin Kaepernick. Maybe they didn't use the word "uppity" exactly but they sure weren't hiding their feeling that some people should keep in a specific place and be grateful for what they've been allowed to have, so to speak. Unfortunately for them, my sister and my dad fell into that camp.

Obviously they thought they claimed their dislike for Kaepernick was that he wasn't supporting the troops. But we all know how flimsy that bit of moral legerdemain really is. It takes an awful lot of mental contortion to simply disregard Kaepernick's stated protest of police violence against the black community and decide to believe right wing media that has a vested interest in a continued police state backed by corporate money. The whole "I'm a patriot so I find unpatriotic acts disgusting!" is the worst shell game every invented. All those fuckers who constantly thank members of the military for protecting their freedoms support Trump and Republicans who are fucking our freedoms in the ass (non-consensually! I support somebody fucking my freedom in the ass if my freedom feels like getting fucked in the ass tonight). I would thank a member of the military for protecting my freedom if they were ever fucking used to actually protect our freedoms. As a democracy (Don't you fucking representative republic me, you asshole), it's up to us to protect our freedoms and a good percentage of us are failing spectacularly at that job.

Gan isn't just battling the small time crack dealers in his neighborhood. He's got his sights on Senator Garrenger as well.

Gan doesn't realize the opposite is also true.

Senator Garrenger is a white supremacist working with white supremacists to do white supremacy. Some of us have been fighting this shit for a long time. The problem is far more of us have been pretending it wasn't a real thing for even longer. "White supremacist Neo-Nazis infiltrating our police forces? Get out of here! You sound ridiculous!" was probably a thing said a lot in the last forty years. And yet even now that conservatives have found that they don't need to resort to dog whistles because saying the thing out loud that used to cause political backlash doesn't even cause a ripple of concern now. We have learned that a large percentage of our country doesn't give a shit if you're a racist, misogynist asshole as long as you say three things over and over again: "God Bless America," "Owning a gun is a God-given right," and "Abortions are evil." Tick off those boxes and you can dispense with all the dog whistling and just say the racist shit on national television.

Dinah begins to dig up dirt on Senator Garrenger so that Black Canary has an iron clad excuse to punch him in the face. Her and Gan decide to work together to stop him and clean up the California drugs in their neighborhood. Not that they believe the two problems are actually the same problem! Not yet anyway! Dinah suspects it but Gan thinks she's seeing conspiracy where there isn't any. Dinah has more experience with how comic books work which is why she sees the entire forest already and it's only the beginning of Issue #2.

Gan takes his show to the streets in front of a crack house to shame them out of the neighborhood. He doesn't realize it's run by the Senator's son who murders three of his "coworkers" to make his escape when the cops show. Gan is shot in the shoulder by the white supremacist assassin while Black Canary rushes in to help. A crack addict is blamed for the murders but Black Canary listens to his chaotic rambling, leading her to discover a shell left by the Neo-Nazi assassin.

Black Canary: New Wings #2 Rating: B+. All the action is basically the last half of the comic book as a seasoned reader of comic books might expect. If a writer front loads the story with people discussing actual issues, the reader is going to get antsy for some mindless violence! Too bad for some readers the violence in this was't mindless but caused by truly awful people. People think the attitude of Comicsgate is a new thing but if you read the letters pages from the past, you'll see they existed back then as well. A lot of readers didn't want to be reminded that maybe the way they think and the things they believe put them in the realm of the "bad guy." So a comic book where the villain robs the bank or attacks Batman for the hell of it is okay because that reader would never rob a bank or attack Batman. But if you make the bad guy a senator who believes foreigners are stealing the jobs of good white Americans and maybe flooding their neighborhoods with drugs as a good way to fight against their "intrusion" into "white America," some of your readers are going to look up from the comic book and say aloud to nobody, "Hey!" And since most of them aren't in touch with their feelings or have ever really done a good, close examination of their self, they don't know how to deal with hurt feelings in any way but to be angry. It's easier to be angry at the person calling some white people racist than to have a good long think about why you might be upset about somebody pointing out racism.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Black Canary: New Wings #1

Nothing says Seattle more than a fishnetted woman in a blond wig and bustier preparing to kick your ass.

I remember being excited about this series when it came out but I can't remember why I felt excited about it. Is that a metaphor for life? Why can't I feel the joy in the remembrance? I look at it now and just think, "This looks fucking boring." And that's me being boring! Usually I'd say something like, "If this comic book were an imaginary genetic disorder, it would be reverse Prader-Willi Syndrome because I don't want more of it ever." Holy shit that was terrible. Especially since "reverse Prader-Willi Syndrome" is probably Angelman syndrome. And this comic book isn't that at all because it doesn't make me happy or thirsty.

I never actually said I was funny! The words, "I have a great sense of humor named Marcus," never passed my keyboard. That's what you chose to believe! But that other thing you believed, the one where I'm a terrible person who would make light of serious genetic disorders for the sake of a truly terrible metaphor? Yeah, that's true. I own that one.

"Black Canary" is an anagram for "Crack by anal." I'm suddenly more interested in this comic book because it must secretly be about doing crack through your butthole or else why would that anagram exist?

I just realized what I've been doing wrong my entire life. It's more fun to live by Coast to Coast AM midnight caller logic where you believe every thought that enters your head must be true rather than have to live within the confines of reality!

The issue begins with the host of a Seattle radio station asking callers this question: "Does migrating gang activity threaten Seattle's Asian neighborhoods?" Probably! I bet it's all that anal crack coming up from Southern California! If you're not a American, I added that so you understand where all the gangs migrate from in the United States. Seattle is too overcast and wet to come up with its own gang activity. Nobody would be threatened by The Puddle-Jumpers or The Caffeine Splashettes or Pike's Place Bass Solos or The Ardent Un-Umbrellaists or We Love Trees, Bitch. At first I was going to be upset about the "migrating gangs" comment because I'm the stereotypical Californian who wound up living in the Pacific Northwest. But it's not totally my fault since my divorced dad moved up here and I spent a lot of time up here and I fell in love with it up here. So I guess that's one thing I can think my father for!

The radio host calls for the people in the Asian community to rise up and kick gang ass to help make their streets safer. And he doesn't just talk the talk! He kicks the ass the kicks the ass! Why doesn't that work like "talk the talk"?!

I don't know how the drug dealer managed to give his money to the buyer and get his ass kicked to boot. What a lousy businessman.

Even though I don't recognize her name, I'm glad to see a woman is writing this comic book. That probably means we won't have more than two scenes where Black Canary is wearing a towel or kicking ass in her underwear. Oh wait! I'm a male infused with male gaze! I meant to say, "I'm sad to see a woman is writing this comic book. That probably means we won't have more than two scenes where Black Canary is wearing a towel or kicking ass in her underwear." Whew! I almost betrayed my gender for a second! I must be low on testosterone! I'd better go out on the street and "accidentally" bump into a guy smaller than me so I can start some shit!

Okay, I'm back! Did you know small guys are pretty tough? Also, do you think I need to make an appointment with a dentist if several of my teeth feel lose? Do they just naturally stiffen back up if I stop wiggling them with my tongue?!

I sit staring at the page following the one I scanned for several minutes. I don't know if it's just too confusing with all that's happening or the kick of testosterone my body just received from the fight. It could also be head trauma from totally winning the fight.

The terrible business man drug dealer is a black guy working for a white supremacist Neo-Nazi. He calls the radio host a China Doll which seems weird although kudos to him for not being gendered in his racial slurs, I guess? According to the footprint patterns on the ground, they were also practicing a dance while wrestling over drug money. The drug dealer admits to having lost his money in a drug deal for the third time this week because I don't even know how that happens. He hands the money to the buyer to let the buyer make the change? Nearby, Dinah can't sleep because the birds outside of her window are too loud and maybe the dancing going on under her window but she looks to the sky when she sticks her head out of the window so what am I supposed to believe? She decides to read some relaxing literature about the feminist politics of housework and then gives up to go practice her judo. That's a fucking lot going on in one page!

Later, Dinah does her budget for the month and discovers Green Arrow is spending too much money on boxing glove arrows. Apparently being a Seattle vigilante doesn't bring in much cash and Dinah has been paying all the bills with her Sherwood Florist flower shop. I guess Oliver Queen didn't have any money in 1991? Maybe Crisis on Infinite Earths wiped out his bank account and he wouldn't get it back until Zero Hour? Anyway, Dinah is pretty pissed with Oliver's spending habits.

I know Dinah is chastising Ollie for being a brutish pig here but technically he wins the argument because she describes his sexing as hot.

Dinah heads up to the Quinault Indian Reservation to get some mystic wisdom from Aunty Wren, an elderly Native American woman. Her advice is "Ask the douchebag for help." It comes across as a critique of Black Canary being too prideful to ask for help because she's a strong woman who doesn't need anybody. But I like to think the point of the advice is this: if Oliver isn't helping out, ask him to help. If he doesn't help out after asking him to, you now know he's a useless piece of unforgivable shit that needs to be thrown in a dumpster. If I don't think that then I have to think this: Oh, sure! Blame the woman for needing to be too strong! How about blaming the man for being a grown ass man child that won't take responsibility without being told to take it after which he'll only grouse about how much he's being nagged. But then again, I don't need any more reasons to dislike Green Arrow than this one: he's a fucking Robin Hood cosplayer with stupid facial hair who fights against modern weapons with a bow and arrows.

Aunty Wren introduces Dinah to Gan Nguyen, the radio show host vigilante. He's also an Asian translator for the Quinault. Gan and Dinah flirt a bit while getting to know each other before heading back to Seattle on the ferry. While Dinah is in the toilet, Gan gets jumped by some gang members who have been looking for him. Dinah changes into Black Canary, kicks some ass, and saves the day. Later, Gan is all, "I know it was you who saved me but I won't say that explicitly! Just so you know you can tell me if you want to tell me and I won't say anything but I know and you know I know!" Dinah is all, "Yeah, yeah. Whatever."

And that's almost the end except for an epilogue that's some pretty damn fine and insightful writing about our country and what the fuck has been going wrong (and gone wrong) with it.

Fucking hell that's good stuff.

Black Canary: New Wings #1 Rating: A. This is why I'm sad comic books are no longer really affordable. In 1991, this comic book was $1.75 which was easily cheap enough to pick it up and see what it was about. Doing so let me read a really great story with a point of view and something to say. If this were on the shelves today at $4.00, the only people giving it a chance would be Black Canary fans. That's a fucking shame and the main problem with print comics today. They're just too fucking expensive to take a chance on anything that isn't already in your fandom alley (or by a writer or artist you love). Not to mention how the cover didn't excite me at all! But I still picked it up to see what was going on with Black Canary and apparently past me liked it as much as current me because I got the whole mini-series and at least a few issues of the series that followed it. Well done, Sarah Byam!