36 years ago - Dinah Lance is born the daughter of Larry Lance & Cladina Drake, who take leave of absence from the All-Star Squadron.
28 years ago - 8-year-old Dinah's mother Cladina Drake retires from superheroics after she in injured. She begins learning Martial Arts from her mother & father Larry Lance.
20 years ago - 16-year-old Dinah's father Larry Lance is killed in the line of duty. She is forbidden from taking up the mantle of Black Canary, but starts doing it in secret anyway, traveling the world to learn from everyone she can including Richard Dragon & Ben Turner.
17 years ago - 19-year-old Dinah finally earns her mother Cladina Drake's blessing to become Black Canary when she realizes that is going to do it no matter what.
10 years ago - 26-year-old Dinah tries to help Roy Harper when Oliver Queen goes traveling with Hal Jordan.
8 years ago - 28-year-old Dinah joins the new Justice League. She discovers Roy Harper's heroin habit & takes him to rehab. She accepts an offer from William Tockman on the location of dangerous vigilante Eric Needham and brings him in.
7 years ago - Cladina Drake dies of cancer. 29-year-old Dinah quits the Justice League & takes over her mother's flower shop, getting more serious with Oliver Queen.
5 years ago - 31-year-old Dinah discovers that Oliver Queen had cheated on her with Helena Bertinelli. She ends their relationship.
4 years ago - 32-year-old Dinah's flower shop is destroyed by William Tockman, who was targeting Oliver Queen. Dinah is contacted by Barbara Gordon and becomes her operative, starting the Birds of Prey.
3 years ago - 33-year-old Dinah reconciles with Helena Bertinelli when she begins working with the Birds of Prey.
2 years ago - 34-year-old Dinah helps build an entirely new Justice League after the death of Ted Kord.
1 year ago - 35-year-old Dinah goes undercover as the lead singer of the band Ashes on Sunday, and agrees to finish the tour with them and sing on their debut EP. She begins seeing Pieter Cross.
Black Canary is definitely one of the most prolific characters in all of DC. She was either actively or retroactively involved in virtually every era of DC's continuity and a surprising majority of its most important teams. She's established as one of their tentpole characters, but she's never really been a major draw. Part of this could be because she's often been presented more as a supporting character to her longtime boyfriend/partner Green Arrow, but in many ways that has been to her benefit. She's not a complicated character... she's a bold-talking no-nonsense ass-kicker and was basically just waiting for comics to catch up with how cool she was. Her modern depiction actually established that she's become the lead singer to a punk band, and it fits perfectly with the character she's always been. That's something special.
Black Canary's Comic History
Black Canary initially appeared in 1947, supposedly as a criminal that Johnny Thunder was infatuated with before it was revealed that she was actually infiltrating the gang as a crimefighter herself. She would go on to appear regularly in backup features of other characters as well as in her own series before she was depicted as a member of the Justice Society of America. As time went on she would regularly team up with characters like Batman and Superman, eventually leaving the Justice Society to join the Justice League (a move that required her to move between Earth 2 to Earth 1 as the teams lived in different earths at the time thanks to the multiverse.)
An elaborate story was concocted to explain why she still seemed so young; she had, apparently, had a daughter that was cursed as an infant and could only live in suspended animation in Johnny Thunder's Thunderbolt's home dimension, and when Dinah discovered she was dying she wished that her now-adult daughter could be her successor, leading to her memories being transferred into the younger body. Once the Crisis of Infinite Earths came along this entire story was abandoned (thankfully), and the modern Dinah simply WAS the daughter of the original.
Dinah became a major character in Green Arrow comics as his constant companion and Girl Friday, and also a major member of the classic Satellite Era Justice League. Eventually she became the original star of Birds of Prey, where she was firmly established as one of DC's most badass characters.
Our Black Canary's Story
The character's original golden age concept couldn't have been much simpler. A woman looks to fight crime and isn't allowed into the police academy, so she takes it into her own hands. The idea that Dinah's daughter had taken over the role of Black Canary was created retroactively, but it nonetheless gives her a fantastic foundation as a very human, relatable character.
We structured her timeline to really allow all the small minutia of her various relationships to take hold and feel real. Her relationship with her mother defines much of her career, in that her early career is largely an act of rebellion. Her later career is hugely affected by her mother's death. This tragedy, coupled with the betrayal of trust by Ollie, brings her to a particular low point in her career before she's sought out by Barbara Gordon and becomes part of the single greatest team in comics. It's that relationship that brings out the best in her. As she goes on to reclaim her role with the Justice League, it's with the personal strength she's developed working with her best friend.
Dinah was chosen as the chairperson of Brad Meltzer's Justice League of America, and we happen to think that's one of the best ideas to come out of that era. When we decided to make a Justice League that operates separate from the Watchtower, Black Canary was the very first character that we knew had to be in it.
Dinah Lance & Oliver Queen
One of the biggest changes you're going to see here is the fact that in our timeline, Ollie & Dinah are done. This is probably a little upsetting to a lot of people, because this relationship is a huge part of what defines these characters to a lot of fans, and even moreso is probably one of the relationships that defines COMICS. There simply is no Black Canary without Green Arrow, and visa versa.
The fact is, Green Arrow writers have done a pretty good job over the years, intentionally or not, of depicting a decidedly bad relationship. At it's best, these two were a pretty solid depiction of a loving open partnership. To quote Dinah as written by Denny O'Neil; they gave each other "Companionship... privacy... support... independence... commitment... freedom." That by itself would be very cool, but various writers have managed to take that very wholesome and sex-positive notion and twist it by having Ollie violate Dinah's trust with such alarming regularity that (whether they meant to or not) it's one of his defining characteristics.
Meanwhile, some of Dinah's best stories happen when she's not exclusive to or married to Ollie. She's a gloriously independent character and the idea that she can feel free to date who she wants just works so much better without the spectre of Ollie lingering over her. She's a better character than he is, and the focus should be on her.
Black Canary's Costume
Given the fact that Black Canary's costume basically originated as little more than a playboy bunny without the ears, it's always been interesting to watch the tightrope that artists have walked in drawing a look that clearly originates as a piece of lingerie while still trying to turn it into something a crime-fighting street brawler could actually wear. What's especially fun about it is that there's actually almost always been the sense that they really WERE trying. Even in the sixties and seventies when women often played a second place role in comics to certain inanimate objects, Dinah always clearly meant something beyond just being a pretty girl in fishnets. She wasn't just beautiful; she was clearly meant to be empowering even when we weren't sure what the word meant yet.
There are two major looks that really manage to encapsulate exactly what makes Dinah awesome. They both have their failings, but when you consider them as a whole you walk away with something very cool. The first is the design made by Ed Benes when he brought back the fishnets in Birds of Prey. Benes is kind of notorious for drawing heavily sexualized characters and he made no exception here: he's the only artist that consistently draws Dinah in a thong for some reason and he makes sure we know it. But he also replaced her bustier with a zip-up jumpsuit with that cool big-ringed zipper, and gave her her black and yellow boots and gloves which really do look cool.
Meanwhile, while there have been several attempts to update Dinah's look in the New 52 era, something very cool happened during the Batgirl story arc and subsequent spin-off series when she became the lead singer or a rock band. Her look becomes more casual, like street clothes; the coat is a traditional leather jacket with a cool Canary logo on the back, her leotard became a combination of black shorts and halter top with an interesting choker/strap combination. This was the look that was taken into the Green Lantern & Black Canary rebirth series, and it worked.
It's really the shorts that stand out here. The character has been running around fighting crime for decades without pants. The BEST versions of the character (most notably, the one used in the Young Justice animated series) have always done their best to cover her a LITTLE more, but you never really want to get that far from the fishnet design, as it's pretty central to the overall look.
So the answer has to be between them somewhere. The casual rockstar look might be a bit TOO casual for the leader of the Justice League, but it also captures something fundamentally correct about the character. using some of the more super-heroic elements of the Ed Benes design will probably refine the look perfectly..
Black Canary's Future
We actually debated for a while if we wanted to include Dinah's new turn as a rock singer, but ultimately it fits her aesthetic too well to leave it out completely. She can't be a rock STAR... that would be pretty irresponsible of her, given that she's a public superhero. Having her take the gig as part of a case, then finish the tour and record an album all fits very nicely though. She might still perform in small clubs and the like, but the most important thing is that she's dedicated to her best friends in the Birds of Prey, and to her career as a superhero as the leader of the Justice League. There aren't many characters that can have that many responsibilities as a superhero, but Dinah is absolutely one of them.
She's very much the glue that holds the new Hall of Justice League together. Her leadership will guide them through their upcoming battle with the Legion of Doom, while she's also going to have her own group of young heroes learning from her experience in the new recruits to the Birds of Prey. As one of the most experienced veteran heroes in the game, she's also still young and vital and a core part of the future of DC.