By: Marc Andreyko (writer), Billy Tucci & Adriana Melo (pencillers), Billy Tucci & JP Mayer (inker), Nei Ruffino (colorist)
The Story: These dames aren’t here to mess around—they’re out to kick Nazi butt!
The Review: One of DC’s greatest strengths is its long, incredible history, especially its rich beginnings. Once you add up all the properties DC has assumed from other publishers over the years, you’re looking at a rather inspiring cast of legacy characters, some of whom continue to operate today, either in an elder statesman status like much of the Justice Society, or with younger generations taking up their names and icons. Call me hopelessly sentimental, but I think that’s nothing short of marvelous.
Besides our usual flock of Birds (plus guest Manhunter), we also get to see in action Golden Age bombshells Dinah Drake (the original Black Canary) and Sandra Knight (the first Phantom Lady), with Lady Blackhawk an anachronistic link between the two generations. Considering the tremendous credentials of all these ladies, we have evidence that from the start, DC has been a pretty good place for heroic women.
The story splits between the past and present, but the plot is nonetheless light and predictable: long-thought-finished antagonists rising again to haunt his former defeaters. Andreyko goes for a jingoistic, rah-rah America tone (“Guns are fer [sic] grownups, Hitler youth!”) as he sends the pre-Nixon heroines into Argentina to recover a mad-scientist Nazi. They encounter resistance in a swarm of blond-haired, blue-eyed adolescents, a kind of Aryan Children of the Corn.
Most of the present action revolves around sentimental scenes where our lady heroes boost the spirits of old veterans and relate to each other over Merlot. It’s all very sweet stuff, but lacking in depth, so it only captures your interest superficially. It would’ve been nice to see Sandra, Dinah, Zinda, and Kate Spencer discussing their heroic legacies in a more serious way, without all the cutesy moments and without Oracle and Huntress as distracting weights to the story.
Andreyko would’ve also done better fleshing out the mission in the past, as it feels a bit too glossed over. You have to wonder why only the three women were sent into the fray (Starman and Miss America taking a day off, perhaps?), and certainly knowing more about their enemies at the time would give more reason to appreciate the psychically endowed neo-Nazis who want Zinda and the now elderly Sandra to “help us resurrect our creator and bring about a new Reich!”
Tucci delivers some beautiful broads, but overall his work is more lush than sensible, as his choice of character movements for the action sequences occasionally lack dynamism or logic (I’m no martial artist, but it doesn’t occur to me that doing a flip-kick in the midst of automatic weapons fire is the most practical choice). At least he aspires for a much higher level of realism than Melo, whose art looks garish, totally inexpressive, and amateur in comparison to Tucci’s refined lines. You can hardly stand to look at those close-ups in the last pages.
Conclusion: Heartwarming—how can you not appreciate your veterans, fictional or otherwise?—but shallow in plot and riddled with inconsistent, often ineffective art.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – Please don’t see this as inappropriate, but girdle or not, Phantom Lady is keeping it tight for an old gal. Respect.