Who knew the Irish had secret ninja powers?
For the previous installments, please check:
All-Star Batman and Robin #1
All-Star Batman and Robin #2
This time around I have the kick-ass Jim Lee cover. While it features the cheesecake costume of Black Canary, it’s really not that terrible a thing, since cheesecake on its own isn’t bad, especially not in this situation. We have the image of Black Canary with her body in a flying kick and an angry expression on her face. She’s active and she’s strong. Just looking at this image implies that Black Canary is not someone you want to screw around with. While I don’t have it to show you, those who are curious may look up Frank Miller’s alternate cover. What’s featured on that one? Black Canary slacking herself back, dragging a cigarette, and drawn like she was a $2 hooker found at the back of a bar. Once again, folks, in Frank Miller’s world, Men are from Mars, Women are from the whorehouse.
When we last left off, Dick Grayson had been convinced to join the fantabulous world of superheroes after BINO (Batman In Name Only) gave a soliloquy worthy of Shakespeare (if Shakespeare had been a murderous pedophile whose plays had been performed not before the Queen of England but the Queens bar and grill down the road). So, of course, one would think we’d be returning to that, right? Of course not, because now we are “Six Months Ago.” It’s a full-page shot of a fat, drunken loser walking out of a bar called the Black Canary and mumbling to himself in full, Frank Miller-styled repeating dialogue, “Who’s that little piece of sass think she is? Cuttin’ me off. Me.” Well, I’m sorry Senator Kennedy, not everyone reads the papers. “Who she think(sic) she is? I can hold my liquor. I can hold it.” I can hold it, too – the gun to my head, I mean. I’m going to play Russian Roulette before I get through this...
Another note on this scene is that Frank Miller’s prose, lovingly referred to on a message board I frequent as Idiotic Pentameter, is also in force in the narration boxes. It refers to the Black Canary bar as “something that came out of the back end of a horse.” That Frank just paints a picture, doesn’t he? Two figures emerge from off-panel, talking about the place. One says, “You’re not gonna(sic) believe this, Dipstick. You’re not gonna believe your eyes.” “It better be fine, Dorothy[?!]. She better be fine.” What you didn’t know of the Wizard of Oz book Dorothy and the Prostitute Village of Oz?
The narration box lets us know: “The only people with any reason to be out this late are hookers and cops -- and losers.” Well, you’d know all three of those, wouldn’t you, Frank? When the two ‘gentleman’ enter, we can tell what kind of place this is. Essentially, it’s a Hooters bar but with the waitresses wearing the Black Canary costume instead of tight t-shirts and short orange hot pants. And, of course, the dialogue shows that she’s getting hit on from all sides along with normal drink orders. Surprisingly, there are even a few women at the bar who seem to be getting drinks, but knowing Frank they’re probably hitting on Black Canary, too. ‘Humorously,’ as Frank continues to talk about the people who are out this late, he brings up Black Canary herself along with a cartoon image of a stick of dynamite: “This particular bartender’s fuse is getting shorter by the moment.”
Just as a side note considering the two losers who enter the bar continue to talk about Black Canary like a piece of meat, I have to wonder what exactly is the appeal of places like this or, for that matter, strip clubs in general. One is (usually) not allowed to directly touch the dancers/waitresses, cannot masturbate, and there is no expectation of sex, so they don’t even have a prostitution thing going. Sure, there’s the ‘they’re paying attention to you angle,’ but I know pornos that do that sort of thing and you can do that in the privacy of your own home and not around a bunch of lascivious, annoying other guys.
We get a full shot of who I can only presume is Dinah Lance concerning the Black Canary costume and she asks the two morons what their order is amidst all the flirtations of the other people at the bar. Oh, and just for maximum effect, we get to have a reflection of the mirror with the horny gazes of the men at the bar at Black Canary while she just looks off to the side. You see, boys, she’s here for your pleasure, just like that slut Vicki Vale. The narration doesn’t help: “...Maybe she’s having a bad night. Or maybe it’s something somebody said. Or maybe it’s something someone’s about to say.” Well, make up your mind! “Something in her gut is just aching to break out. Something unpleasant.” Oh no, she’s got a chestbuster alien! Run for your lives!
The two losers push aside other people at the bar and ask for some drinks and then, in some censored scribbles, ask Dinah to do something that I’m sure is sexual in nature. In a legitimately funny moment, Dinah responds with, “As for that other service you gents requested of me, I’ll leave it to you two boys to provide for each other.” Zing. Oh, and Black Canary’s Irish now, too. Honestly, what was the point of this sequence to the series? Oh, and I do compliment Frank on a little more subtle satire here in the fact that one of the two idiots looks like Oliver Queen, Dinah’s on-and-off boyfriend Green Arrow. Of course, this could actually be the awesomeness of Jim Lee at work. We may never know. The other moron reaches over and grabs Black Canary’s ass and, as such, you can pretty much figure out what happens next.
Yeah, the cartoon dynamite fuse runs out and Dinah does an aerial kick to both of the morons. I- wait, huh?! Okay, nothing of what we’ve seen so far of Black Canary indicates she has the training to pull off a move like that. In fact, the dialogue says she left Monaghan and her mother, brothers, and sisters to come here. There’s no trace of the normal Dinah Lance we know and love, the one who was trained by Wildcat and the Justice Society of America against her mother’s wishes to become the next Black Canary and fight crime. Do the Irish have hidden Irish ninja powers that they haven’t told anybody about?
Anyway, Dinah continues to go nuts as she attacks some random patron in the bar (and revealing she’s wearing high heels – because, you know, when you’re working on your feet for several hours, you should be wearing high heels) and performs another unbelievable move by doing a flip across the room and over several people and landing gracefully. And all throughout her Heroic Spaz Attack, Frank Miller subjects us to all the names Black Canary gets called on the job from the previous pages, only now in the narration boxes. And for some unknown reason, “Hot Momma” is used three times to start it off. Once more I have to compliment Jim Lee’s pencils since on the next page, we see Black Canary standing with her arms crossed – combining sexy and strong as she smiles at the bar patrons and announces, “It isn’t near closing time, gents.” She then kicks some random bystander and says, “We’re still open for business.”
Dinah just keeps smashing away at the bar patrons, whether they made sexist comments or not, for another few pages before we return to Frank Miller’s horrific narration boxes. While it’s one thing for Black Canary to legitimately punch the guy who grabbed her rear, maybe even yell at or hit the people who objectified her with name-calling, she has gone completely whack-jacko by attacking everyone in the bar. But you know what the worst of it is? This: “It’s not that what set her off. It’s not the insults that these vermin pass off as flirtation. That’s not what set her off.” Oh, goodie, so she doesn’t even have a legitimate reason for her ass-kickery. “It’s a man. That’s what set her off. A single solitary man. A man who’s got her thinking all different. A man she’s never met. A man who’s stood up and said “enough.”” Because, you know, women can’t be inspired to action themselves; they need a man to do that for them.
The boss of the bar suddenly comes in because of the commotion and sees Black Canary stealing wallets off the unconscious patrons[!!]. Yes, not only is Black Canary a sex object who can only take action when inspired by men (even if that action is complete overkill), but she’s also a thief. Thanks, Frank. Dinah tenders her resignation and sees that the Oliver Queen look alike is even wearing a wedding ring. So, what does our heroic Black Canary do? She force-feeds him his own wedding ring. Folks, I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – every scene in this series contains a Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot moment and here we have another. Words fail me at the sheer level of unheroic behavior all of the ‘heroes’ have exhibited here.
And what was it that got into Dinah’s head, anyway? What made her have her spaz attack and practically kill everyone in a bar? What man was it that inspired such behavior? “...Batman.. And that, my friends, was the sound of me hitting my head against the table. After calling her “sweet chunks,” our brave bar owner is tossed out a window by Black Canary. On a pizza box outside of the place, in what I’m sure is a message from the editor once again realizing just how stupid this is, are the words “Mai in ritardo,” which I’m told means “This is stupid” in Italian. If we’re wrong about this, please let us know and I’ll fix it, but otherwise I love the sentiment.
If the full-page shot of the bar owner getting tossed out a window wasn’t enough for us, we then get a full-page shot of Dinah stealing a motorcycle belonging to one of the bar patrons, which Frank helpfully tells us is “a roaring lion between her legs.” Ah, double entendres for the ‘liberated’ woman? Thanks, Frankie. You know, another theory thrown out on message boards I go to is that Frank actually knows just how crappy this stuff is. He’s so sick of writing Batman that if he writes such atrocious stuff, DC will stop asking him to do it. I’m not holding my breath, though. Well, actually I am because I want the pain to end, but...
Ah, and now our little segue into six months ago ends and we’re in the now. Oh, and that excursion lasted fourteen friggin’ pages! Over half the comic was devoted to a sequence that made no sense in the context of the greater story and depicted Black Canary as being just as psychotic and unheroic as BINO. This is supposed to be All-Star Batman and Robin, Frank! When we want All-Star Black Canary, we’ll call Gail Simone!
In any case, we finally return to the flying Batmobile (I’m still in shock over that one) where BINO’s ever-deranged narrative boxes give us a keen insight into the Darkknight Detective’s mind: “I’ve KIDNAPPED a traumatized YOUNGSTER and DRAFTED him into my HOLY WAR.” Holy Terror, Batman! Oh, wait, that’s another Frank Miller book that hasn’t been released yet. “I chose him with CARE. I did my HOMEWORK.” Well I hope you did, young man, because otherwise I’m not going to let you go play with your friends!
“DICK GRAYSON. AGE TWELVE. AERIALIST. The best I’ve ever SEEN.” There was a guy he knew who was better, but he was only the best he HEARD. And in the most shocking bit of Mary Sue-ism since Youngblood’s Vogue, here’s Dick Grayson, Age Twelve’s biography: “Top of his CLASS in just about every SCHOOL his roving circus life TOOK him to. Made BLACK BELT a few weeks before he turned NINE[!!!].” Seriously, I’m starting to think BINO is the one who orchestrated Dick’s parents’ murder just so he could kidnap this kid. The Batmobile starts plummeting down and Dick Grayson, Age Twelve naturally responds to this with alarm. Aw, what happened to “I’ll be brave,” kid?
To further break me away from my sense of reality, the Batmobile falls into water and converts into a submarine[!!]. Dick Grayson, Age Twelve jokes, “You still haven’t told me what a “ward” is.” BINO promptly tells him to shut up, but Dick asks him what he calls the vehicle. BINO grins and we get this colorful dialogue:
Dick Grayson, Age Twelve rolls his eyes and says, “That is totally queer.”
BINO scowls, downtrodden since that the twelve year-old isn’t impressed with his stellar naming skills, and promptly tells Dick to shut up again.
But enough of that scene! Let’s switch over to Metropolis, fifteen hours ago and- hey, wait a second! On a carton of milk is a ‘Missing’ photo with Dick Grayson’s picture on it. At no point does it mention Batman, but we see that it’s Clark Kent holding the carton and he summarily crushes it! WOW, he must be Superman if he has the strength to crush liquid encased in cardboard! But anyway, my shock isn’t that, but the fact that this is fifteen hours ago. Think for a minute – that would’ve meant that Clark bought a carton of milk sometime between the time of the early morning and a few days prior during grocery shopping that featured Dick Grayson’s picture on it even though BINO only kidnapped him roughly an hour ago. And for the milk to have gotten to the grocery store to begin with would’ve taken a few days, which means the printing of that picture took place before then and- AAAARRRGH! The non-logic is killing my puny human brain! I need some milk!
A copy of the Daily Planet is pushed under Clark’s door for some reason, which has the words “Bat-Napped” written across the headline and Clark, having a heroic spaz attack of his own but no one to do Irish ninja kicks on, simply uses his heat vision, shattering his glasses and burning the newspaper. And the logic centers of my brain once again go nuts, since if this was “fifteen hours ago,” that means that BINO and Dick Grayson, Age Twelve, have been driving for fifteen hours since Dick’s kidnapping would’ve taken some time for them to write an article about it that took up so much of the front page! Seriously, I can’t even begin to think how this is supposed to make sense unless the criminals that were responsible for this had so much pull in both Gotham and Metropolis as to manipulate policemen, newspapers, and milk companies to report about a kidnapping that had occurred before it ever happened (especially odd since they had planned on killing Dick for some unknown reason). The only other explanation is that BINO and Dick have been driving around for hours, which would explain why Dick went from, “I’ll be Brave” to “That is totally queer,” but it makes my feeble brain even more confused.
Okay, let’s move on with the story and- what the hell?! After a last panel of Clark proclaiming “Damn!" (Jim Lee is wasted on this tripe), we flip the page only to discover the Superman symbol and the words “To Be Continued...” written across the bottom! WHAT IS EVEN THE HELL?! Fourteen pages of Black Canary, two pages of Clark Kent, and only FOUR PAGES OF BINO?! Admittedly, this means less of the bizarre creature that calls itself Batman, but still, did Frank even understand what it was he was supposed to be writing?!
That’s it, I’m going to go see if I can create heat vision and burn this crap.