Saturday, March 28, 2009

Black Canary, Awesome? Not in JLA#31, she's not!

A few weeks back, I wrote an entry here called "Why Black Canary = Awesome", in which I praised how Dwayne McDuffie was handling Black Canary's evolution as League leader. If JLA#31 is any indication, I may have to eat some of my past words.

What has changed my opinion so much? Let's start with this:

I know I'm the umpteenth person to make this point, but can you picture if this had been Ollie hitting Dinah for "embarrassing" him and threatening to hit her again because she made a smartass remark? Suffice it to say, you don't have to be Grant Morrison to imagine the uproar that would follow. To be fair, there was still a sizable uproar over this scene as is, and many of the other "umpteen" I alluded to were feminists.

But that wasn't even one of the the bigger issues I had with Dinah's handling here. The first of those issues would be Dinah's handling of Hal's departure and Ollie's joining Hal. She seemed to make it too much about her. When you're talking about a team with the scope and jurisdiction of the JLA, that kind of thinking just doesn't fly. This is the top superteam on Earth, the planet's biggest defense in the event of attacks from without and within. There's a lot more at stake than Dinah's feelings of embarrassment. I'm not saying Dinah's necessarily unaware of this, but she should have addressed things in those terms with Hal and Ollie.

In Dinah's defense, what Hal and Ollie did was kind of a dick move. "Proactive justice"? What the hell does that even mean? It makes me think of "Minority Report" with Tom Cruise. Plus, the last times I've seen DCU teams pursue "proactive justice" it always seemed to evaporate into a big nothing. I'm probably going to end up picking up Hal's team book, at least initially, but mostly because I'm a James Robinson fan.

Still, they may have had a point about the current JLA not accomplishing anything, and McDuffie addresses this key deficiency of both Brad Meltzer's past run and his ongoing run in this issue. Look back at the Morrison run on JLA and the menaces they fought. Now look at the current volume and you may see Hal's point. As a rule, though, I hate the whole "we're so self-aware, we know how we suck, hell, we'll even make a reference to it in our book/tv show/etc." writing trick. Acknowledging you have a problem is only Step One, Dwayne. If you want to impress me, do what Keenan Thompson's character on "Weekend Update" advocates: "Fix it!"

However, the biggest problem I had with Dinah was toward the end of the issue. Granted, she was placed in a tough spot, losing 7 existing members and 3 potential ones (Ollie, J'onn, and Atom). Losing the Trinity is especially a big blow. But she gave up waaaay too easily at the first sign of adversity. Yes, going on without Flash and the Big 3 will be difficult, but how difficult will it be to replace Red Arrow? Boy, she'll really have to HUNT high and low to find a suitable match for Roy's impRESSive skill set. Also, her best friend is Oracle, who has practically every hero from DCU Earth on speed-dial. (Oracle even appears in this issue, for crying out loud!)

I'm aware that a lot of possible recruits will be unavailable to her. Guy and Kyle live on Oa. Booster has to maintain his "cover" for Rip Hunter. Nightwing's dealing with the Bat fallout. But the JLA still has a sizeable reserve. Remember the cover to JLA/AVENGERS#3 a few years back? The one where George Perez drew the entire past and present memberships of the Avengers and JLA? The one that contained so many characters that Perez hurt his hand drawing it? Granted, half of that lineup was Avengers, but the other half is still a huge cast of characters. Come on, DiDio hasn't killed off everyone on that reserve roster (not yet anyway). They've gone without the Big 3 before and survived.

But Dinah's response was essentially "Oh, noes! Hal and the Big 3 are gone! Better pack up our tent and go home!" To paraphrase Cenk Uygur, that was WEAK SAUCE. Definitely not becoming a leader of DC's premier super-team.

Hey, I could be taking this completely wrong. This could just be your typical dramatic cliffhanger moment. I've read Dinah stories and seen her at low points before (her ordeal in LONGBOW HUNTERS, dating Ra's al Ghul, the 80's headband outfit) and she's always seemed to snap back.

I just hope if and when the current team reconstitutes itself that Canary remains as team leader. What happened to Black Widow's leadership role in the wake of "Heroes Reborn/Heroes Return" left a bad taste in my mouth, and I hope Dinah doesn't suffer the same fate.


At 2:17 AM , Blogger Saranga said...

I've got a theory that Dinah is having a breakdown in this issue.

At 6:18 AM , Blogger SallyP said...

Dinah is having something at any rate. She does seem to be taking all of this a bit too personally, and it is also rather an insult to the ones who are left, Zatanna,Vixen and John Stewart. What are they, chopped liver?


Yeah, I like Roy, but it's not like he'd be hard to replace. And it isn't as though Wally was even around that much anyway. Besides, isn't Barry going to be back? And Aquaman? They're some pretty heavy hitters.

At 7:11 AM , Blogger Sea_of_Green said...

I do understand Dinah having a hissy fit over what Hal and Ollie did. It's the same kind of crap they used to pull on her all the time during the Hard-Traveling Heroes days (particularly during Mike Grell's run). Sure, Ollie is her husband, and she and Hal are supposed to be good friends -- but in their collective history, Dinah clocking either one of them wouldn't surprise them in the slightest. And the guys WOULD shrug it off because they tend to clock each other all the time, anyway. (All the more reason to clock 'em, really -- though neither Ollie nor Hal would ever hit Dinah unless they were sparring with her). So, for the most part, I just found the scene with the Hard-Traveling Heroes humorous.

The later stuff, to me, just seemed to be the actions of someone whose feelings are very, very hurt. Dinah DOES feel betrayed by Hal and Ollie -- though their behavior probably doesn't surprise her, they no doubt DID hurt her pride. So, yeah, she's gonna wallow in self-pity for a while. But she'll get over it and fight the good fight. She always does. :-)

-- Sea


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