As I finish the final page, I close the book and look at the back cover: “Breaking Heart and Busting Heads!” C’mon! I know that I am not the only person who immediately thinks of another word that could stand in place for “Heads!” Whether this was the publisher’s intention, I will never know, therefore I will turn my attention to what I do know – the inside pages.
Once again the volume is composed of different missions rather than a linear story arc, yet this volume introduces readers to the Ravens. In the first story arc, Canary fights against kidnappers all while managing to become held captive (once again). While there, she befriends Jason Bard, Oracle’s ex-fiancé. He originally rescues Canary, adhering to the damsel in distress archetype yet as the comic continues, Canary frees Jason.
As for the Ravens, a proper introduction of them is in order:
Cheshire – the leader who is conning them
Vicious – she is vicious (noticing a pattern here?)
Termina – her touch is terminal, and she is terminally ill.
Pistolera – she shoots pistols
Even though Cheshire is the one that intends on betraying the team, Termina betrays them in the first story arc as she uses the neutron generator that Cheshire wanted to steal and activates it with the hopes that she will cure herself from the disease that is killing her. The remaining three women partner with Kobra to find a new source of neutrons.
Where is Canary in all of this, you ask? Well the volume does not do a great job explaining the correlation between the Ravens and Birds of Prey – other than the fact that they both have names related to birds.
Turns out that Canary is on vacation in Lake Mackachitahoo, Minnesota which of course is the exact same lake in which the Ravens are searching for neutrons in. Kobra recognizes her as Black Canary, assumes that she is there because she is onto his plan and attacks her because lets face it, Canary does not disguise herself, not even with a pair of glasses! Yet the Ravens have accidentally traveled back in time because the neutrons that they were searching for have the ability to dismantle space and time. They return to the present, Canary fights them, and they teleport back into the past. The arc ends. Feels out of place? Imagine reading pages of it rather than a few sentences.
In the next story, Canary is in charge of protecting Ganza, a criminal, in order to guarantee that he will be able to exercise his right to a fair trial; however, she is unable to look beyond his crimes and struggles with the mission. In the end, Ganza sacrifices his life to protect Canary and she questions whether she let her feelings color her actions – creating the most in depth struggle that Canary has faced all while being minimized to two concluding panels.
The above-mentioned and the following arc were my favorites from the volume. Nightwing apparently owns a circus and brings Oracle there. Now, for those of you who do not know, Oracle is Barbara Gordon, and Barbara Gordon was Batgirl. This might not mean much at first so let me tell you how Batgirl became Oracle: the Joker shot and paralyzed her. The Joker who dresses like a clown. Clowns are all over the circus. Other than that, the date runs smoothly until Nightwing suggests that it is a date. Barbara shuts this down because she is “so damn proud.”
In the final story, Oracle sends Canary on a mission to release a scientist that is held captive – yet like always, Oracle has somehow managed to underestimate just how complicated the mission actually is. You would think that the person who is only in charge of looking into the mission would actually look into the mission, but that is not the case. Turns out, the scientist is actually a prisoner because he is a mad scientist who made an alien clone of Guy Gardner, Green Lantern. Seeing that Canary cannot take out Gardner herself, Oracle fires a missile at him, yet it has no damage. She then calls for Superman to defeat him and then fly away:
Yes, my thoughts exactly Canary. My “Why’s” are directed more towards Dixon and team: Why put me through this story only for Superman to come save the day? Why make a lead heroine when a man will just come in casually and defeat her biggest threat? Why feature Superman when Oracle is clearly more related to Batman? Why include the Ravens? Why give the Ravens such horrible, horrible names?
The same problems that I had with the first volume occurred within this one as well, so rather than repeat myself, I will attempt to only focus on this volume. I feel like the Ravens did not blend in the volume. It was like when I used to watch Naruto and I watched fillers, except that while I was watching, I did not realize it was a filler until the story line began to continue and I discovered that the ten episodes prior did not relate at all. I am not familiar with the Ravens so perhaps they have a bigger role in volume 3, but if this is not the case then perhaps those arcs could have been axed from the publication.
I really enjoyed the arc with Ganza because it allowed Canary to develop more as she faced a moral dilemma that did not involve an ex-boyfriend. Which is why I wonder how the story line with the ex-boyfriend lasted longer than the one with Ganza. Well, not wonder, because the rest of the volume illustrates why:
How can Canary remain her flirtatious, carefree self AND deal with moral dilemmas? By having one that is marginalized into two panels and never bringing it up again in case her mental stimulation might cause anxiety among her readers.
I feel like the characters have the potential to be so much more, but they are both deeply lacking substance. I am torn because a huge part of me wants to continue ranting while the other part of me simply says “1999.” 1999, the time when this was also occurring. Jokes aside, it was 17 years ago (shockingly) and heroines like this helped pave the way for our millennial heroes.