Black Canary Archives - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources
(NOTE: I’m happy to acknowledge the hard work and obvious dedication of the blogger Count Drunkula, whose Black Canary fansite Flowers & Fishnets was a great resource in putting together this post.)
Recent developments on The CW’s Arrow have gotten me thinking about the various twists and turns visited over the years upon DC Comics’ Black Canary. The television series has come at the character from a few different directions, even splitting some of her characteristics among three players. It makes sense for an adaptation of Green Arrow to include at least a nod to his longtime love interest, as traditionally they’ve been one of DC’s most prominent super-couples.
However, Black Canary didn’t start out as part of Green Arrow’s supporting cast, and even a cursory glimpse of her past invites some careful examination. Indeed, for a few years in the ‘80s, the history of Black Canary threatened to approach Hawkman levels of continuity complexity. Today we’ll look back at that history, and specifically at how a shared-universe setting can both screw up and enrich a character.
I think DC Comics missed a trick with the long-awaited, Paul Dini-written Black Canary/Zatanna original graphic novel, which finally arrived in this week. Why was there no special edition, fishnet stocking-covered incentive variant? Publishers did a lot of crazy things with covers in the 1990s, and they’ve been doing increasingly crazy things with them in this decade, but I’m pretty sure no one’s ever published one draped in fishnet …
Fishnets are, of course, the most immediate visual commonality between the two superheroines, and this long-in-the-works project, first announced in 2006, was once jokingly referred to as The Fishnet Brigade (a riff on Neil Gaiman’s Books of Magic series, in which John Constantine referred to himself, The Phantom Stranger, Dr. Occult and Mister E as “The Trench Coat Brigade”). Dini and DC do acknowledge the importance of the heroines’ legwear, as the cover under the dust jacket and end pages bears a fishnet design, and there’s a scene in which the pair goes shopping for stockings together (“At the rate we go through these things, that place should give us a fifty percent discount,” Zee tells Canary).
The two have a lot more in common than that, of course. They’re also fan-favorite characters who have never been able to break out as stars in their own right (at least, not for long), generally appearing in team books and as supporting characters. And, of course, they’re both among the longest-serving members of the Justice League who weren’t founders, the characters being among the earlier additions to DC’s premier super-team (Black Canary joined in 1969; Zatanna began appearing in the book in the ’60s, and was finally offered full membership in 1978).
Oh, and they both appeared often on the Justice League cartoon, often times written by Dini, who is a fan of both characters.
If you aren’t following the blog of artist Joe Quinones (FF, Wednesday Comics), then you’re missing out on some terrific glimpses of Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell, the long-awaited graphic novel written by Paul Dini.
Each Wednesday for the past month, Quinones has revealed one or two panels from the book, some more complete than others, as he counts down to the planned May 21 release.
We’ve known for a while that DC’s superhero line will go through some changes in the wake of Forever Evil, and as the March solicitations bring the end of that Big Event, not surprisingly the month looks rather transitory. In fact, Forever Evil #7 is scheduled to appear on March 26, just as the final issue of Blackest Night — also written by Geoff Johns as a spinoff of his highest-profile series, in case you’d forgotten — dropped on the last week of March 2010. (It must be pure coincidence that these solicits feature a $200 White Power Battery tchotcke.) Back then, BN #8 was supposed to “set the stage” for the “next epic era of DC Comics,” which turned out to be about 18 months long and featured the biweekly sort-of-sequel miniseries Brightest Day. This time, Forever Evil #7 teases the importance of the “Hooded Man” and promises to “leave the DC universe reeling and reveal the secrets to the future.”
So, yeah, sounds like another cliffhanger ending, perhaps even leading into another big-deal miniseries — specifically, the May-debuting weekly Futures End. Considering that the three tie-in miniseries (ARGUS, Arkham War and Rogues Rebellion) all seem to feed into FE #7, the actual content of that final issue may well be a giant scrum, not unlike the final issue of Flashpoint, in which some cosmic button is pushed, defeating the Crime Syndicate but at a significant cost to DC-Earth. As it happens, there’s no mention of the “Blight” sub-crossover (bringing together Phantom Stranger, Pandora, Constantine and JL Dark) feeding back into Forever Evil, but I’m not sure how much it’s supposed to relate, beyond being about the JLD trying to pick up the post-invasion pieces.
Typically, I’ll spend most of Saturday in panels, but the first one I was interested in wasn’t until later in the morning, so I killed time taking in some of the more offbeat exhibitors, like Ben the Bubble Guy, a businessman who hires himself out for birthday parties, corporate events, funerals. Okay, maybe not funerals.
When it was time, I headed up to the fourth floor for the AV Club‘s panel on the Future of Superheroes.
One of the things a lot of pros like about C2E2 is the late start on Friday. It doesn’t open to the public until 1:00 pm, so creators can sleep in and recover from their trips if they want. Or, if they want to go early to set up or just walk around and visit with each other, they can do that too. It’s also helpful for press jerks taking lots of pictures. Lots. Of pictures.
I once attended a writing workshop by a popular, big-name comics writer in the 1990s who revealed a Dirty Secret that’s haunted me ever since. I’m paraphrasing, but he admitted that writers of corporate-owned superheroes rely heavily on fans’ pre-existing attachment to those characters. Obviously, the extent to which he was able to speak for his peers is questionable, but the implication was that he felt he could sneak sloppy work by readers, confident that their love for the characters would keep them buying the comics anyway.
Please please please don’t think that I’m accusing Duane Swierczynski of that. I have no reason to think that he’s doing anything less than his best work. It’s just that that Dirty Secret occasionally pops back into my head as I’m reading comics I’m not enjoying about characters that I like. And the New 52 Birds of Prey is one of those comics.
I discovered Black Canary through Green Arrow. I’ve been a Robin Hood fan my whole life, so it was an easy jump to digging Green Arrow, but I admit that I didn’t care for Black Canary at first. My intro to these characters was all post-Mike Grell, and all I knew about Canary was that – early in Grell’s Green Arrow run – she accused Green Arrow of cheating on her and left him. At the time I was learning about this history, there was a huge debate among Green Arrow fans about how justified Black Canary’s complaints were. But either way, Green Arrow’s reputation as a philanderer stuck. Eventually, it became apparent to me that – whether or not he’d been that way before – Green Arrow’s writers now considered commitment-phobia and infidelity to be important parts of his character. I began to lose interest in him and gave Black Canary a second look instead. I checked out Birds of Prey and dug it.
When an image of the full, 15-member lineup of DC Comics’ relaunched Justice League leaked over the weekend, discussion immediately turned to the identity of two of the four female characters.
The figure on the left, between Atom and Firestorm, was quickly pegged as Element Woman, a member of the Secret Seven who debuted in Flashpoint #1. But the character opposite her hasn’t been so easy. Speculation soon settled on Zealot from the WildStorm universe, Black Canary, Power Girl — fan blog DC Women Kicking Ass has head shot comparisons — and even the monster-hunting Miranda Shrieve introduced in Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #1.
All are seemingly good contenders — all blonde, all with something to contribute to the Justice League roster, and to the newly tweaked DC Universe continuity. Black Canary has a history with the League — she’s alternately a founding member or a later addition, depending on the reboot — while Power Girl served with Justice League Europe. Of course, if the Justice League is starting anew, then none of that much matters. Zealot would help to cement the mergers of the DC and WildStorm universes (Martian Manhunter is now part of Stormwatch), and Miranda, along with Element Woman, would help to untangle how, or if, the threads of Flashpoint tie into the New DCU.
There are solid cases for each of those characters, right? Even if none has the beauty mark that the mystery woman sports above her lip. Right? Well, no.
Overnight, Justice League writer Geoff Johns dropped a bombshell that destroyed all of those theories. “That is not a blonde,” he wrote on Twitter. “(No one’s guessed the characters correctly yet.)”
So back to the drawing board, fandom! Who’s a not-blonde, beauty-mark bearing, turtleneck-wearing superheroine that no one’s thought of yet?
At her DeviantArt account, artist Gilly Hathaway has been designing swimwear based on DC superhero characters. In addition to the full version of the Black Canary suit above, you’ll also find designs based on Batgirl, Harley Quinn, Catwoman, Silk Spectre and Batwoman.
… I’d be down with that. But while that may not be the case, this piece featuring Wonder Woman and other DC heroines in a Runaways-esque pose drawn by Cliff Chiang will be included in the HeroesCon art auction this weekend. Which is pretty rockin’.
Paul Dini has a long history with DC’s resident magic woman Zatanna, and it looks like a long-gestating project will see him team the character with Black Canary. The girl-centric comics blog DC Women Kicking Ass picked up this scoop while walking the floor of the Boston Comic Con from none other than the artist himself, Joe Quinones.
Titled Bloodspell, the book is set to debut in 2012. The blogger recounted the plot as told to them by Quinones, saying “The book begins with a back story where an 11 year old Zatanna meets a 16 year old Dinah Lance. And the two don’t get off to a good start on this trip to Mt. Everest.” Here’s two pages from the project that Quinones had on display at the con.