I Love a Woman Who Can Kick My Ass: Black Canary: Learning to Love a Lovely BirdA column article, I Love A Woman Who Can Kick My Ass by: Riagain27
Originally this week, I was going to present to all of you an article on a very beloved and respected woman of silver screen fame. However, as I thought about it I realized that that particular article should wait a while until after the website redesign is completed and the article can be posted as linked to our sister cinema site as opposed to actual Comics Bulletin. That said, it left me with a bit of a conundrum as to who to write about, my plans were disrupted and I didn’t know how to put them back together. Luckily, CB Publisher Jason was there to help put me back on the right track. Like a prophet of old, he spoke and the clouds parted to reveal Black Canary. But this led to a different set of problems, I wasn’t nearly as familiar with Canary as I was my previous subjects and unfortunately time only moves forward. This would require a lot of research in a relatively short amount of time, almost like I was some sort of legitimate journalist or something. Huh, imagine that.
The first thing I feel I must mention about Black Canary, is that her history confuses the hell out of me. First there was Dinah Drake who had adventures during the Golden Age of Comics before eventually marrying and became Dinah Drake Lance. Then comic book things happened and during a crisis crossover event involving the Justice League of America and the Justice Society of America, Larry Lance died and Dinah decided to move to Earth-1 and a fresh start. She joined the JLA and because of reasons connected to radioactivity, gained her now famous Canary Cry.
During her time in the JLA, Dinah began a relationship with Green Arrow and eventually grew into a near permanent fixture in his stories while having adventures of her own as well. She became a foster mother of sorts to Roy Harper and was the one to get him treatment for his initial heroin addiction. And apparently, she grew into a more feminist character as well, having her own business (which was apparently a bit of a big deal for a woman back in the '70s, but as this was before my time I’ll defer to Jason on the matter) as well being quick to call Oliver on his crap when he was being too possessive.
However, the characters’ relationship caused a problem for DC. Dinah’s history stretched all the way back to the Golden Age with no reboots or anything and as such was explicitly in her 60s despite not looking over 30, while Oliver was much younger. To deal with this, DC pulled a retcon and revealed that the Black Canary everyone knew since the end of the Silver Age was actually Dinah Drake Lance’s daughter, Dinah Laurel Lance. And provided an explanation the likes of which you can only find in comic books. I can’t even begin to put together a good summary myself, so here’s Tvtropes' take on it. “An Earth-Two Super Villain called The Wizard used his powers to curse the infant Dinah with an uncontrollable scream and Black Canary asked her old friend Johnny Thunder to use his magical genie pal The Thunderbolt to end the curse. The Thunderbolt was unable to break the spell, but was able to place the infant Dinah in a sort of suspended animation in his home dimension until such time as a cure could be found. Years later, during the crisis crossover that killed her husband, Dinah Drake was critically injured by the radiation and The Thunderbolt then used his magic to put Dinah Drake's memories in the still-sleeping-but-now-adult body of her daughter (which had since then learned how to adapt to the once uncontrollable scream) and erase everyone else's memories so they wouldn't remember what happened.”
So now we have Dinah Drake Lance, who for the past 10 or so years was actually Dinah Laurel Lance, but she also had all the memories and mannerisms of Dinah Drake Lance so technically she was both Dinah Laurel Lance and Dinah Drake Lance and this Lance multiperson was also a transdimensional slider who gained her powers from both radiation and magic and oh no I’ve just gone cross-eyed. Y'know what, I'm going to stick with what I know for the rest of this article. The current Black Canary is Dinah Drake Lance and is the leader of the Birds of Prey, a group consisting mostly of badass superhero women including Batgirl, Katana, Strix, Starling, and occasionally Poison Ivy. She is also an ex-soldier which is finally something I can begin to understand. Her time with Team Seven could be called mildly military at best, but she still served her country until the Team's final mission and the death of her husband.
I've picked up a few issues of Birds of Prey since I started putting this article together and so far I've liked what I've seen. Dinah is idealistic, yet also realistic. She has her priorities in line as a hero, keeping innocents safe and if that means getting her hands dirty she's not afraid to do so. Which is fairly common amongst military and/or ex-military superheroes, I've noticed. Balancing the idealism of helping others and taking the higher path with the realism that you will at some point fight enemies that you have no choice but to kill them can be a hard thing, but Dinah and her Birds seem to pull it off well enough.
My only gripes about her honestly is that it appears to me that DC saw that Marvel has shelved Banshee for a while and decided to practically copy his powerset to Canary. I could be completely wrong, of course, but I don't remember coming across Canary being able to fly through the use of her Canary Cry anywhere in my research. Also, I kinda like the fact that she was a legacy superhero. For all intents and purposes after another reboot/retcon following Crisis on Infinite Earths Dinah Laurel Lance idolized her mother enough to follow in her footsteps and walk the path of a hero. I think it was a nice touch, and honestly something that DC could have easily kept within the New 52 in some way.