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Black Canary

Updated on October 7, 2009

Black Canary first debuted in the days immediately following World War II. She is noted for her martial-arts skills and her "Canary Cry" - a high powered, sonic scream with the ability to shatter objects and incapacitate villains. Among the first generation of superheroes, she was a member of the Justice Society of America, the first superhero team to appear in comic books.

In the 1980s, the character's history was rewritten to make her two entities: Dinah Drake Lance, who took part in Golden Age adventures and married Gotham City detective Larry Lance, and their daughter Dinah Laurel Lance, who has appeared in modern stories.

The combination of the Black Canary's courage, fighting prowess, and her sex appeal (accentuated by her costume's characteristic fishnet stockings) has resulted in her being referred to as "The Blonde Bombshell."

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Black Canary Biography

Golden Age History

Black Canary first appeared in Flash Comics #86 in 1947, as a supporting character in the Johnny Thunder feature of the Flash Comics anthology. Initially, she seemed to be a villainess; Johnny Thunder was instantly infatuated with her and was reproached for this by his Thunderbolt. However, she was in fact infiltrating a criminal gang, a modus operandi she would follow throughout her career.

Black Canary proved to be popular enough that in Flash Comics #92, she was given her own anthology feature, Black Canary, replacing the Johnny Thunder feature. The new series fleshed out Black Canary's backstory; in her real identity, Dinah Drake was a black-haired florist whose romantic interest was Larry Lance, a detective on the Gotham City Police Department.

Her costume consisted of a blond wig, fishnet stockings, pirate boots, bustier, and an unbuttoned jacket. Initially, she also wore a domino mask, though this was soon jettisoned. Black Canary soon joined the Justice Society of America, but ceased being published along with the rest of the team by the early 1950s.

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Silver Age History

Black Canary was revived along with the other Golden Age characters during the 1960s, and was shown as existing on the parallel world of Earth-Two (home of DC's Golden Age versions of its characters).

It is also revealed Dinah has married Larry Lance during the 1950s. Dinah also takes part in various annual team-ups between the Justice Society and Earth-One's Justice League of America.

In a 1969 JLA-JSA team-up against the rogue living star-creature Aquarius, Larry Lance is killed trying to save Dinah's life from an attack. Out of grief, Canary decides to move to Earth-One to create a fresh start, where she joins the Justice League. Sometime afterwards, she begins dating her JLA colleague Green Arrow, and discovers she has somehow (possibly due to exposure to radiation) gained the ultrasonic scream later dubbed the Canary Cry.

In Justice League of America #219 and #220, it is revealed this Black Canary is actually the daughter of the original Black Canary and her husband. Born in the 1950s, the infant is cursed by the Justice Society foe the Wizard with the "gift" of a devastating, yet uncontrollable, Canary Cry. Dinah asked her old friend Johnny Thunder to summon his Thunderbolt in hopes of a cure, but it was to no avail.

Instead, the Thunderbolt keeps the child in suspended animation (aging all the while) in his native Thunderbolt dimension, until, the Lances hope, a way to cure or control her power can be found. Seeing his friends in pain, the Thunderbolt decides to erase all memory of the child, letting everyone think she has died.

After the battle with Aquarius, Dinah realizes she is dying from the radiation she was exposed to. She discusses possible solutions with the Thunderbolt and Superman of Earth-1.

The three arrange to transfer Dinah's memories into the body of her now-adult daughter, still held in suspended animation, while not letting Dinah believe anything unusual has happened to her (this retcon was established in 1983 to deal with the fact The Black Canary had been active since the late 1940s and would therefore have had to been nearly 60 years old by that time. Previous comic writers had apparently overlooked this fact, portraying her as still-youthful.).

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Modern Age History

Following the retroactive continuity change in 1983, Black Canary became two distinct characters, mother and daughter, named Dinah Drake Lance and Dinah Laurel Lance. Dinah Lance would become the current Black Canary. Some references, notably those in James Robinson's Starman series, would attempt to distinguish the two Canaries further by referring to the first as 'Diana', but more recent accounts have confirmed 'Dinah' as the elder Canary's given name.

In post-Crisis continuity, Secret Origins #50 revealed the first Dinah had been trained by her father, Detective Richard Drake, and intended to follow in his footsteps on the Gotham City police. She was turned down by the force, however, and her disillusioned father (unable to use his connections to change the decision) died of heart failure shortly thereafter. Dinah was determined to honor his memory and fight crime and corruption by whatever method possible. This led to her debut as a costumed vigilante; she would use her inheritance to open a florist shop as her day job.

The elder Dinah married her beau, private eye Larry Lance (still maintaining her florist business). In a Times Past-style story in Birds of Prey, Lance was an acquaintance of Jim Gordon, father to Barbara Gordon. A few years later, their daughter, named Dinah Laurel Lance, was born. In Birds of Prey #66, which is a flashback to a cold case investigated - but never solved - by the elder Dinah, Laurel was the name of a librarian that Dinah consulted during the case and later befriended.

Growing up, Dinah Lance was surrounded by her mother's friends in the disbanded JSA and looked to them as uncles and aunts. Dinah wished to become a costumed heroine like her mother before her. However, instead of encouraging the younger Dinah, her mother forbade it, thinking the world had grown into a darker, more dangerous place than when she herself fought crime, too dangerous for the younger Dinah to succeed.

However, the younger Dinah had her own "Canary Cry" - in this version, the result of a metagene not present in either parent - which (unlike the Silver Age Black Canary) she is fully able to control.

With this weapon, the younger Dinah next sought out numerous fighters to help her hone her skills, including former JSA member Wildcat. Years of training and intense dedication paid off, and Dinah took on her mother's mantle, even though it was against the elder Dinah's wishes at first. She took an active role in the 'Silver Age' of heroes, operating, like her mother before her, out of Gotham, while maintaining a day job in the family florist business.

In an early issue of Birds of Prey, writer Chuck Dixon established that Dinah had married at a very young age briefly before divorcing. Her ex-husband showed up in a storyline needing her help (Birds of Prey: Wolves), but actually wanted her to rejoin him after he had stolen funds from the mob. This early marriage and ex-husband were not referred to again until the 2007 Black Canary miniseries.

Shortly into the League's history, she met Green Arrow (Oliver Queen). While Dinah couldn't stand him at first, they later became romantically involved despite the difference in their ages (in the Modern Age Oliver is substantially older than Dinah, the reverse of the earlier depiction, although he was de-aged by an unspecified amount when he was resurrected). Dinah remained a member of the League for roughly six years, including a brief stint with Justice League International (JLI), of which she was a founding member. It was during that time her mother died due to radiation poisoning she experienced during a battle with the villain Aquarius. Her mother's death affected Dinah deeply, and led her to accept her time in the JLA was over.

She moved to Seattle with Green Arrow after the breakup of the Justice League, and would open her own florist shop, named "Sherwood Florist" (the name is a play on Sherwood Forest, the domain of Robin Hood, who Green Arrow (in costume) somewhat resembles).

For a brief period in the 1980s coinciding with her membership in the JLI, rather than her traditional skintight black outfit with fishnet stockings she wore a blue and black costume with a bird motif notably looser and less revealing than traditional superheroine garb. This change proved short-lived, and later artists restored her original look.

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Black Canary Bust

Women of the DC Universe Black Canary Bust

Black Canary concludes the amazing line of Women of the DC Universe busts designed by award-winning illustrator Adam Hughes! This limited-edition, hand-painted, cold-cast porcelain bust measures approximately: 5 1/2-inches tall x 2 1/2-inches wide x 3-inches long and is packaged in a four-color box. Limited edition of 5,000 pieces.

Black Canary Barbie Doll

Barbie DC Black Canary Collector Doll

Take home this gorgeous Barbie and give Batgirl and the other ladies of DC some competition. The strikingly beautiful doll features Barbie as Black Canary, supersonic siren and superheroine of the DC Universe. The exciting Ms. Canary is dressed in a finely detailed uniform that includes her black motorcycle jacket, fishnet stockings, black gloves, and boots. This is one truly hot chick that will turn your other dolls green with envy! Stands about 11 1/2-inches tall.

Black Canary In Action

Vote for your favorite Black Canary stuff

Black Canary 1:6 Scale Deluxe Collector Figure
Black Canary 1:6 Scale Deluxe Collector Figure

Black Canary joins the popular line of 1:6 Scale Deluxe Collector figures!This rendering of the beautiful Dinah Lance includes a special interchangeable head that captures her in the midst of her sonic scream. Dressed in her intricate and authentically detailed trademark outfit of fishnet stockings, faux-leather jacket, removable mask, choker, and boots, this figure also includes a display stand. Packaged in a deluxe 4-color window box with a fifth panel.

 
Green Arrow/Black Canary: Family Business
Green Arrow/Black Canary: Family Business

After years of dramatic on again, off again romance, Green Arrow and Black Canary finally combine forces in their own world-spanning superhero series as the two lovebirds search for GA's kidnapped son, Connor Hawke.With Ra's al Ghul's criminal cabal, the League of Assassins, behind an assassination attempt on Connor and his subsequent abduction, Green Arrow and Black Canary enlist the aid of guest-stars Batman and Plastic Man to save the young hero's life. It's ninjas versus superheroes in a last-ditch effort for survival and when the smoke clears, the Green Arrow family may never be the same.

 
Barbie Famous Friends: DC Comics Black Canary Doll
Barbie Famous Friends: DC Comics Black Canary Doll

When Barbie visits Star City, she needn't worry about crime when Dinah Lance, the Black Canary, is on the case! Mattel recreates the DC Comics' heroine as a Barbie Famous Friends: Black Canary doll, which stands nearly 12" tall. With her comics-authentic costume of black leather jacket, black fishnet stockings, and black thigh boots, Barbie's friend Black Canary will keep the criminal element at bay!

 

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