But, you know what? McDuffie has been fixing many of Meltzer's gaffs, one by one, but this one has gotten even worse. In JLA 13, it seems almost that McDuffie has gone out of his way to show that Black Canary isn't leading, or certain not leading well.
1. While Black Canary is still recovering from kissing off Ollie, Green Lantern has already begun the meeting and briefed everyone on the situation.
2. Superman, Black Lightning, and Green Lantern debate Hawkgirl's fitness for duty. Black Canary has no say in the matter.
3. Black Canary mentions that one team has been out of contact for a while, Superman and Green Lantern decide what that means and that something needs to be done.
4. When Red Tornado asks for a battle plan, Black Canary does come up with one. But "Split into two groups and retrace their steps, okay?" isn't the single greatest example of clear and decisive leadership I've ever read. Can you imagine Hawkman, Wonder Woman, Power Girl, or Aquaman saying, "Split into two groups and retrace their steps, okay?" They would say, "You, you, and you, do this; you, you, and you, do that. Let's go, troops; stay close to one another and be careful."
5. Then Superman decides he's leading one of the subteams, and decides who he's taking. THEN, when they let Canary pretend she's picking the other team (it's everyone who's left, natch!), Green Lantern questions, then countermands the decision, points out a huge flaw in the decision, and changes the team. Far as I can tell, Green Lantern is leading the JLA.
6. Black Canary is utterly unaware that anything is amiss with Vixen's powers. Superman has to figure it out and confront Vixen. Then, neither of them say anything to Canary about it. Can you imagine him not telling Batman, Wonder Woman, or Aquaman? Can you imagine them not knowing already?
7. Then, when the villains show up, Black Canary shows that she's not a very good leader or, for that matter, Heroclix player. Canary; you're a Secondary Attacker. Use your Primary Attacker, Superman, first. Then, once they are softened up, your own attacks will be more effective. If you'd attacked with Superman and/or Vixen first, then you would have been free to tie up Parasite.
8. Black Canary shows that, not only is she a bad leader, she's a bad team member, and a crappy Heroclix player. When faced with three villains all of whom would be sensitive to her superpower, she decides instead to kick one in the face. Why? Mostly because she's indulging a delayed emotional reaction to something he did, oh, maybe 7 years ago. Yes, I can forgive BC for being emotional about rape in general, and the rape of her friend in particular. But if she can't do her job because of it, then she shouldn't be leading the JLA, or even in it. Can you imagine Aquaman or Wonder Woman doing what she did? I can't.
9. Once the villains have retreated, who retrenches and starts to make plans for their next move? Superman and Black Lightning.
Now, you could make the case that this portrayal of Black Canary is sexist. In fact, I'll wager there are about 147 blogs, livejournals, and podcasts that already have done so this week. And maybe it is. But there's another possibility:
Maybe McDuffie isn't to blame here.Now, a good number of you will immediately dismiss me as insane or sexist for writing that. But I've come to believe these characters, having been around a long time, develop quite a lot of "inertia of characterization". Big ships turn neither quickly nor sharply. It's hard for anyone (at least, anyone who knows enough about them to become their writer), to change dramatically who they are, or even to write them too far out of character (except for, you know, Frank Miller).
Maybe this isn't the way Black Canary is being written.
Maybe it's the way she is.
For example: Geo-Force is a pompous, callous, ass. Recent attempts to refresh him in the public eye have led to a re-evaluation of the character in a new era, with new writers, and new readers, who seem to have reached a new consensus: Geo-Force is a pompous, callous, ass. I happen to think that's simply because... he is. The frog should not blame the scorpion for stinging, folks.
Blame it on Julius Schwartz, for inculcating me with the tenet that everything the writers here on "Earth Prime" write is merely a "reverberation" in their brains of what's happening on the "other Earths". Blame it on collective fandom memory, for whom each story of a character is merely an instantiation of the unalterable Platonic idea of that character. Blame it on me, for being a pompous, callous ass. But don't necessarily blame it all on McDuffie.
Some may object that Black Canary proved her leadership under a different writer (the glorious Gail Simone), who is the principal architect of the modern day grooviness of Black Canary. Perhaps. But (1) Black Canary was more of an MVP in Birds of Prey; Oracle was, and is, the leader. (2) Birds of Prey was, and is, a great team. But they are a great B Team, and Black Canary was the big fish in that smaller (but still rather large!) pond. The JLA is the A Team, folks, and Black Canary is surrounded by fish that are larger than she. And it's showing.
Don't get me wrong; I like Black Canary. I like her now more than I ever have. But, I like lots of characters, without thinking they are the appropriate ones to be leading the JLA. I don't think it's just because she's a woman or isn't the strongest member. After all, two of the greatest leaders in comic team history were Saturn Girl and Dream Girl of the Legion, neither of whom is exactly a powerhouse. I wouldn't buy Superman as the leader of the JLA, either; no matter how many times writers try to foist leadership onto Superman (usually in crossovers) it's always extremely ill-fitting. Superman is a fullback, not a quarterback. Aquaman is a quarterback; John Stewart is a running back; Flash, a wide receiver. Black Canary? Tight end.
It's exactly because I like Black Canary that I don't like seeing her lead the JLA; frankly, it's making her look bad. Brad Meltzer "promoted" her out of some misguided sense of Affirmative Action when the previous characterization to support it hadn't yet been built. Now JLA reads like a theater group where a weak director is being gently back-led by her company of strong actors.
When do Aquaman and Martian Manhunter get back?