Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Looking at the Black Canary of the Golden Age-- the scrappy but lightweight Kanigher/Infantino heroine-- she doesn't seem to have much in common with the current version, endowed with a *gravitas* unimagineable to the earlier bolero-jacketed brawler. Various rearrangements of the DC Universe, particularly relating to the continuity of Wonder Woman, propelled Black Canary back to become "the woman member" of the JSA once WW's history was rebooted, but that alone doesn't explain her taking on greater significance.

The early 70s GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW title by O'Neil and Adams made the character a bit more soulful next to her gimmicky Silver Age incarnation, but she didn't acquire a firm identity, and in JUSTICE LEAGUE was usually just another villain-clobberer. Even getting her own short-lived comic book didn't seem to improve her.

It does seem like BIRDS OF PREY, first written by Chuck Dixon and most outstandingly by Gail Simone, made the big difference. Dixon made her the main buttkicker working under the wide-ranging authority of Oracle, but Simone stressed the mental side of her martial-arts skills. In the scene above, the Canary prepares for a grueling sparring-match with a masterful Asian opponent known as "Rabbit." (The character somehow resists the temptation to dress up like a man-sized rabbit, unlike the lapine opponent referenced in Post 19.) The match marks one of Black Canary's best one-on-one encounters with an opponent of similar skills, but the battle is even more remarkable in that Simone's writing imparts an impressive spiritual side to the heroine's art of buttkicking.

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