I realised recently that it’s been two weeks since we last covered a DC book in a main review – issue #1 of Flash : Rebirth. I don’t really see that as a reflection of my changing tastes (I say “my” as, with the exception of the Batbooks, neither James nor Julian tend to go near DC), because it’s not like I’m suddenly reading loads more Marvel. It’s just that everything about DC feels so moribund at the moment. Since the end of Batman RIP and Final Crisis (not to mention the cancellation of Blue Beetle), there’s been nothing to get excited about – and it’s not that there isn’t stuff on the horizon, it’s just that it seems to be taking a while to get here. So anyway, in the interest of balance, I thought I’d pick up a random mid-tier title to see if there’s anything interesting going on that I’m completely missing. Hence, Green Arrow and Black Canary, two characters I’ve always had a soft spot for even if I’ve never really regularly read either of their adventures (save for when Dinah was a member of Justice League International).
Writer Andrew Kreisberg – who I’ve never heard of, but who at least gets a bonus point for not being Judd Winick – doesn’t exactly get off to the best start, however. To be fair, for the fourth part of a story, it’s really not difficult to pick up on what’s happening here – but what’s happening is that a desperately cliched female supervillain, obsessed with Ollie, has been killing various of his foes (no-one important, mind) before strapping the both of them to a train track so that they can die together. Yeesh. The villainness herself – I’m not sure of her name, she calls herself Cupid at one point but I don’t know if that’s just a line – is an appalling piece of design, with a green belly-dancer’s veil over her face and her tits (tastefully adorned with an arrow-through-the-heart tattoo) hanging out. The panel here in which she first appears was almost enough to make me put the comic back down again.
Things improve slightly once we get into the climactic scene in a subway tunnel – although not before Ollie is seen to take little notice of being stabbed through the chest, a wound from which he recovers so quickly that his costume even heals over the hole – as there’s almost a hint of genuine tension on display, and Dinah showing up to rescue him is not only a nice reversal of the usual position in which writers tend to place her, but also involves a good instance of clever lateral thinking on her part. The issue’s conclusion is muggy, though, as the whole “I’ve just slashed this other villain’s throat, and you have to work out whether to save him or chase me!” schtick is as old as the hairs on Ollie’s beard.
It’s not a bad comic, by any means, despite the inherent rottenness of its main villain – the art is solid, it’s fairly well-paced, and Kreisberg seems to have an alright grasp on the dynamic between the two lead characters. But it just feels inconsequential – like so much of DC’s B-list (and indeed A-list) content at the moment, it’s all so uninspiring. There are decent characters, but too few ideas about what to do with them. If anything, what intrigued me the most about the book was the five-page preview for Gerry Conway and Chris Batista’s new Animal Man series, and that’s not even out until the end of next month. It’s all well and good teasing us about interesting things that might be coming up, but unless they can engage readers pretty sharpish in the here and now, there’ll be fewer and fewer sticking around to pay attention.