Who's Onyx?

Who's This? The minor hero who, despite being an 80s music video nightmare, is the most gorgeous pic in all of Who's Who vol.XVII (art by Jerome K. Moore, on page 16).
The facts: Onyx first appeared in the Green Arrow back-up from Detective Comics #546 to #548 (1985) then went on to feature in that same strip in #551-552, 556-557 and 564 before getting her entry in Who's Who. 'Tec #565-567 (1986) finished that story.
How you could have heard of her: Onyx wouldn't make another appearance until 2001, when she was part of Wonder Woman's team fighting Circe (Wonder Woman vol.2 #174-175), a glorified cameo, no more. From there, and with a completely OTHER dated look, she became a member of the Batman Family shortly before and during the War Games and Family Reunion storylines of the mid-2000s. Her last post-Crisis appearance was another cameo, in 2008's Birds of Prey #114. A new Onyx has shown up in the New52's Green Arrow book, looking deathly pale leading some to call DC Comics out (again) for white-washing a character. Jeff Lemire says she's not Caucasian, but it's unclear from the art what her ethnicity might be.
Example story: Detective Comics #566-567 by Joey Cavalieri with Jerome Moore and Dell Barras (566) and Stan Woch and Dave Hunt (567)
Such a gorgeous Who's Who page, the martial arts hero it depicts can't possibly live up to expectations stuck in someone else's back-up strip, can she? No. No, she can't. It's not just that there's no room for it, the story isn't do her any favors either. In the previous issue, Onyx, on the run from an unknown party, checked up on her love interest Tommie with an "ie", but because she wouldn't tell him what was going on, he locked the door of his store so she couldn't get out. THIS issue, with Green Arrow and Black Canary heading her way (the crucial clue: a message on the "phone machine"... oh 80s!), we find her all tied up at the back of that store.
So she's not using her martial arts prowess on purpose. Feminism! I don't know what Tommie ate for lunch, but she immediately regrets putting the moves on him.
He wants to get her headband because it's part of the Wisdom Key that will open the Book of the Ages. I don't really care, I just want to see Onyx kick some butt:
Bit of a dodge, bit of a kick, bit of a whip, chases her overprotective boyfriend off before he gets killed, and then, just as Barricade rips her headband off, Green Arrow shows up. Our hero. Olie already has Black Canary killing his macho mojo, so he's not about to let Onyx take Barricade on. So he gets brutally beaten in her stead. Hahaha. Who's Barricade anyway? He takes his helmet off...
Ok, I'm no closer to an answer. Kind of zoned out during his origin story too. More of that Wisdom Key stuff, whatever. Onyx gets back into the game by teaming up with Black Canary for a game of keep-away with the headband.
That gives GA the time to pull his skeleton-busting arrow and kill (rekill?) Barricade. While he gets existential about it, Onyx slips out through a window and heads to the park where Tommie finds her.
He's pissed because when she gave him that kiss, she slipped him the Wisdom Key (I guess that thing was in the headband? I guess it was all an act after that for Barricade's benefit?), making him - and he's right about that - a target for all those super-powered assassins looking for it. Onyx is right too, he was all about trying to protect her during the crisis even though he was far less equipped to deal with Barricade than she was. But it doesn't necessarily track that he'd want to be the Key's keeper and take all that heat, girl! I guess you kids aren't meant for each other after all.
The end for now was pretty much the end forever.

Well, aside from a cool look and a REALLY cool Who's Who entry (and a lot of characters have returned just based on that), if Onyx's portrayal was like this all the way through her Green Arrow appearances, I can't really blame anyone for not picking up those story threads. She's kind of flighty, marginally boy-crazy, and once Green Arrow shows up, takes a back seat to the white male hero. It's really too bad and falls far short of the character's potential.

Who else?
I was almost tempted to say I was done with volume XVII, but I think there may be one more entry I could do...

4 comments:

snell said...

Onyx is significantly less whitewashed in this week's Green Arrow, so we can probably accept "coloring error" as the excuse for her nu52 debut...(or quickly implemented course correction after complaints?)

Siskoid said...

Maybe. The artists also tend to use a limited color palette on that book, so bleached out art isn't uncommon.

American Hawkman said...

Onyx definitely has potential, but as a team member of some book or as intern to another hero. Black Canary would be perfect.

Siskoid said...

So... a Bird of Prey, essentially.

 

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