Monday, 9 July 2007

Reviews: Black Canary, Runaways

Black Canary issue 1 “Living With Sin” part 1 by Tony Bedard (writer), Paulo Siqueira (penciller), Amilton Santos (inker), ILL (colourists), Pat Brosseau (letterer) and Mike Carlin (editor), 22 pages of strip, DC Comics, Early September 2007, US$2.99

Black Canary ponders Green Arrow’s marriage proposal while she and the little girl, Sin, who she is looking after are drawn by Canary’s ex-husband into a plot by the League of Assassins.

This is a perfectly competent slice of super-hero soap opera. Bedard’s script and Siqueira’s pencils tell an easily followed, coherent tale. Bits of backstory are provided painlessly. You could pick up this issue without any familiarity with the characters involved and still understand how they relate to each other and what is going on. Only the assassin Elvises in a flashback sequence have much zing to them, but this is still a solid and quite entertaining piece of work.

The only problem is that the nominal heroine of the piece, Black Canary, comes across as by far the least distinct personality here. Green Arrow, Sin, Canary’s ex, even Batman in a five panel cameo, all are delineated in a more lively manner than Black Canary, who comes across as a rather generic goody. It is of a piece with this that the lead villain is obsessed with Green Arrow, not with the supposed star of the show. That’s a particular pity, as this mini-series is Black Canary’s last outing before she is relegated to sidekick status in Green Arrow’s book. But perhaps it is also an indication of why.

Runaways issue 27 “Dead-End Kids” part 3 by Joss Whedon (writer), Michael Ryan (penciller), Rick Ketcham and Jay Leisten (inker), Christina Strain (colourist), VC’s Joe Caramanga (letterer) and Nick Lowe (editor), cover by Jo Chen, 24 pages of strip, Marvel Comics, August 2007, US$2.99

The teenage Marvels find themselves stuck in New York in 1907, where they encounter rival super-powered gangs called Wonders.

Whedon’s story is pretty straightforward, with amusing enough dialogue and some nice touches such as the appearance of the Yellow Kid himself. The attempts to parallel present day Marvel, especially a character who appears to be a direct counterpart to the Punisher, are perhaps a little overdone.

But even more appealing is the artwork by Ryan, Ketcham and Leisten, with sympathetic colouring by Strain. This is lushly detailed and rendered, but still clear and focused on its storytelling purpose.

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