JLA: Year One – In Which Black Canary is Awesome (and oh yeah, some aliens try to destroy the planet)

So many of the trades I’ve been reading lately are re-imagined backstories for any number of characters.  Not surprising, given the complete upheaval that occurred in Crisis on Infinite Earths.  Still, it makes me feel as though I may never get to any current storylines.  I’m nearing the end of the top shelf in my DC continuity quest, and yet I feel as though much of what I’ve read has been exposition.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been great.  I really love the stories and  all of the character development.  I guess I had just hoped most of the backstories would be done with at this point.

Plus there’s the ever-constant worry that this will all happen again and they’ll wipe out everything and start all over.  I see the word “Crisis” pop up a few times on “the shelf” and it worries me. Every. Single. Time.  I can’t go through this again, I tell you.  How many crises can these superheroes handle?!

Okay, maybe I’m being a bit melodramatic.  This collection may be backstory, but its a very essential one.  With Crisis having completely changed the DC universe, the history of the JLA was altered as well.  In this trade we learn how the JLA was initially formed, with founding members The Flash, Green Lantern, Black Canary, Martian Manhunter, and Aquaman.

At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about this.  The JLA without Batman? Wonderwoman? Superman?!  I wondered how such key characters could be left out of such a seminal formation.

…Turns out, pretty easily actually.

While Superman and Batman appear briefly in the collection, they show no interest in joining the Justice League, for their own reasons.  This exclusion, surprisingly, didn’t alter the comic in my mind at all.  Instead, I was given the opportunity to see new characters interact and adjust to the title of “superhero.”

That is, after all, what this collection is about: the characters.  Sure, there’s an overarching storyline about a race of aliens seeking to destroy the planet, which is all fine and dandy, but the real story here lies with each character.  We get to learn how they view themselves and their role within the league, as well as how they learn to trust one another and work together, going from complete strangers to a unified team.

Each character’s individual insecurities, concerns, and unique personality could encompass an entire post, but here I have to focus on one particular character, for purely self-indulgent reasons: that of Black Canary.

I’ve been a fan since the first time I read about her in an old Justice Society collection.  Here, her character becomes much more complex but ever-entertaining.

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Ahem. That is not Green Arrow, missy.  You should not be flirting with anyone but Green Arrow (because they belong together and I say so).

Clearly single and ready to mingle, Black Canary openly flirts with the likes of Green Lantern as well as Flash.  I can’t really fault her there, especially since it shows her in a more realistic light.  After all, she’s only 19, and for her what’s the harm in flirting a little with the guys in the group?

If she was only included to be token flirt, I may have been a bit annoyed.  Luckily, the writers had the foresight to continue her legacy of being sexy and badass.  In one of my favorite side scenes, she has the perfect comeback when Flash questions some of her fashion choices:

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THANK YOU, BLACK CANARY.  Sure, Flash may be right, but it’s not as though all superhero costumes are fully practical.

(Side note: all I can picture now is Edna from Pixar’s “The Incredibles” saying, “No capes!”  They ought to take her advice.  Edna knows her superhero fashions.)

It was odd to see Canary flirting with these other super heroes because HELLO, obviously she belongs with Green Arrow.  I didn’t expect that particular expert bowman to appear in this trade, so when he popped up I got a little irrationally excited:

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What can I say? I really, really like when he calls her pretty bird.  I like adorable nicknames, so shoot me.

Canary’s having none of his shenanigans though, and quickly shoots him down.  It’s the typical “boy meets girl, girl loathes boy, boy and girl eventually fall in love and get married because I said so” routine.  At least I hope.  They were obviously in love pre-crisis; the writers had better continue that storyline or I will be majorly bummed.

…In other news, I may be a little too emotionally invested in these comics.

From here, her interests take a sharp left turn as she grows closer to Flash, aka the very engaged Barry Allen.  Their connection felt believable, shared double lives and all, but I was still shocked when it briefly turned into more than just friendly bonding:

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THAT IS NOT GREEN ARROW LITTLE MISSY GET YOUR LIPS OFF HIM.

Luckily, Flash remembers he has a fiance that he’s very much in love with, and that puts an abrupt end to this fleeting romance.

As the comic comes to a close, the JLAers elect to make Green Arrow an official member, at the same time that the reader learns that none other than Oliver Queen (Green Arrow himself) has been the anonymous financial backer of the League.  The implication that Green Arrow will join the JLA gives me high hopes that the Canary/Arrow romance will pick up where it left off pre-Crisis.

And yeah, while all that stuff was going on, the JLA fought a secret organization and a race of aliens bent on destroying Earth.  No big deal.

I’m not sure what it was about this comic that turned me into a 15-year old hormone-fueled teenage girl. Maybe I had too much caffeine today.  I just couldn’t help but focus on Black Canary in all of her awesome, imperfect glory, and the relationships she developed.  She received so much more attention in these issues than she did when she appeared in issues of Justice Society or even the original Justice League.  Her character, like all the others featured here, was very well-crafted.  A fallible superhero always feels more realistic, and the founding members of the Justice League of America combined to create a very believable union of superheroes; each imperfect, but when working together, a true force to be reckoned with.  If this is the direction the new Justice League comics on “the shelf” will be headed, I’m excited to read more.

-Jess

PS: Canary/Arrow luv luv foreverrrrrr.  I need that on a t-shirt.

 

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