Writer: Frank Miller
Artists: Jim Lee (p), Scott Williams (i)
Publisher: DC Comics
Plot: The structure is simple this issue. Black Canary makes a fateful choice. Batman continues his abduction of Robin. Superman receives some unpleasant news.
Sexism watch: I don’t think this issue would work were Miller drawing it. Lee manages to get away with some super-sexed-up action poses and voluptuous babes in tight costumes without being prurient or disturbing. It may be a cheat, and it’s completely unreal for the darkness of Miller’s words, but it also saves them from the excess that would betray the very heroism he is purporting to still be writing about.
With this issue we’re spared the vulgar cover previewed online by Miller (my store only received the Lee version, which serves as a good advertisement for the issue, the purpose of which is to introduce Black Canary to this All-Star world), and inside the story foregrounds the casual, unrelenting barrage of sexual innuendo a pretty bartender at a dive like the Black Canary must face every day, every second, nearly every where in this grimy Gotham City. The club is so bad it’s the sort that would have a brutish bouncer to protect a working girl, and a strict "look but no touch" policy. But this skeevy place leaves the girl in the canary costume to be her own protector, and when this barkeep snaps, she is more than up to the task. In fact, when she takes out the lowlifes (and pilfers their cash to make her getaway), we not only get to see the trademark Canary acrobatics in an impressive display, we see the
birth of a nascent hero. She’s been inspired to fight back against corruption, you see. By the Batman.
Canary is the second tough dame we’ve seen in this series, and if she and Vicky Vale show themselves capable of preserving the fatale as much as the femme, it’s all part of the noir-ish language Miller has developed for this Sin City-like Bat adventure. It’s not the slightest bit subtle, but it is bright and glittery and loud and, thanks to Lee, even pretty.
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