Or – “Single-Parenting Is Never Easy. Single-Parenting An Assassin Is Nigh Impossible.”


I’ve long been of the opinion that raising a child all by yourself is one of the most difficult propositions in life, certainly as difficult as superheroing, in it’s own way. Black Canary has embarked upon an attempt to combine both into one lifetime, and it’s not without it’s complications. With her near-future plans involving something borrowed and something blue, I’m interested (and a little bit concerned) to see how her compeer relationship with Sin is going, and more importantly, where the journey will take them.

Previously, on Black Canary: Dinah Laurel Lance is a legacy hero, taking on the costume of her late mother, the original Black Canary. One of the first members of the Justice League of America, she proved herself every bit the equal of Superman or Batman in BC1.jpgterms of courage and conviction, and struck up a long-running on and off romance with Oliver Queen, The Green Arrow. After a series of setbacks in her life, (including the loss of her powers) she teamed up with Oracle, the former Batgirl, and the two of them together rebuilt their lives as the founding Birds of Prey. When Lady Shiva, the greatest assassin alive (a woman who has beaten The Batman in hand-to-hand combat more then once) challenged her to prove her morals, Black Canary agreed to change roles with her. Shiva worked alongside the Birds of Prey, and Black Canary went to live and train with the League of Assassins, meeting a young girl called Sin, who was being groomed to be the new Lady Shiva. Unable to stand by and let the child be turned into a murderer, Black Canary left the guild with Sin, and quit the Birds of Prey to try and raise the girl with a slightly more normal life. As we begin our festivities this issue, Dinah is telling Sin the story of how she met Oliver. Dinah had just joined the JLA, and had found the Japanese Prime Minister under attack from a horde of assassins dressed as Elvis. Though her new teammates were not yet on the scene, she found herself backed up by a man she thinks of as “Sir Flirts-A-Lot…”


And with that, Ollie officially makes the second worst mistake you can make with a woman: he mistakes her for her mother. The only thing that would be worse is mistaking her for your OWN mother, and that’s just because of the creep factor. GA and BC fight their way through the Elvises (Elvii?) to find that one of their number is a vaguely familiar looking archer with a midnight black bow. Oliver’s eye is true, breaking what would have been a fatal shot with his own arrow, as Black Canary flattens the entire force of Presleys with a canary cry. As the Archer escapes (and reveals himself to be Merlyn of the Assassin’s Guild) the JLA arrives to find that they’re too late. “That was over ten YEARS ago,” says Dinah, “And he’s been winding me up ever since.” Sin ponts out the irony of Dinah having met Oliver in a chapel, and now his having proposed to her, but Dinah isn’t sure what to say to that. Her main focus is raising Sin, and she has given Queen multiple chances in the past. Sin points out that ‘normal’ lives are harder to find than you’d think, and Dinah tells her that she intends to make sure Sin gets one…


I can tell you right now, that’s a bad idea. Children are savage little creatures, folks, and it’s only the fact that they’re little and cute that hides it from us. Sin climbs into the playground with the girls, and the first inkling that this is a very bad idea comes when she shares her name. “My daddy says that ‘sin’ is BAD,” says one of the girls snottily. Being raised in a freakish third-world army camp, Sin is upset to think that the girl’s father might know her. When asked who the blonde lady is, Sin tells them that she is the woman who took Sin away from her mother, and reveals the truth of her origins. The kids don’t believe it, and push her down, taunting her to show her fighting skills if she’s so tough… Sin’s face creases with the pure rage that only a child can generate, and even locked in the restroom, Dinah hears the commotion that results.


Lesson one: do NOT tick off someone with Shiva training. Lesson two: all children will fight when cornered. Dinah stops Sin’s tantrum, as the tearful girl tells her she didn’t hurt anyone, and Dinah gets the children out before the tube maze collapses. Sin cries that they started it, that they tried to hit her first, as they escape on Dinah’s motorcycle. A mysterious man watches their escape, and I suspect that his motives are less than pure… Later that night, Dinah tells Sin that she can’t risk this happening again, and if Sin can’t suppress her training, that she can’t even got to SCHOOL like a normal child. Sin is frightened to see her sister angry, and afraid of the disappointment in Canary’s eyes, as Dinah questions her…


That smile is adorable, even if she could probably kick my @$$… As Sin fills the ice bucket, the mysterious stranger approaches her. “Bet you didn’t have one of THOSE back where you came from,” he smarms in a very inappropriate way when starting a conversation with a strange child. He tells her that he is a friend, and asks if she will take him to see Dinah. I can tell you right now that his intentions are NOT honorable. As he reaches to touch her, he finds out (as seen way up top) exactly where Dinah is, as she drives him into the ice machine, and threatens to take his head off before recognizing him. After getting ice for his newly acquired head wound, they return to the hotel room where Dinah makes introductions…


2 hours later, we find Craig in the arms of criminals, as Dinah has obviously refused to help him. I think it has to do with the blatant emotional blackmail that he’s pulling, but whichever… The two men prepare to choke him to death, laughing that he should have paid back the 20 grand he owed, as one of them remarks how a man who lives in a building this nice should be able to pay his debts. “Check out the VIEW!” the other one exclaims, as a blond in fishnet stockings steps into view in the sliding glass door…


Advantage: Canary. With Oliver Queen out of the mayor’s chair, Black Canary seems to consider his proposal, thinking of all the good reasons to stay in Star City… Some time afterwards, we see Craig in an office, talking with his mysterious boss. “The kid starts school next week, and Dinah’s staying put,” Craig reports. “Hope you’re happy, ’cause I nearly got killed playing along with your crazy scheme!” I knew it. This guy has “@$$clown” written all over him. The boss warns Craig not to tip his hand, as Craig picks up and arrow, joking that he’ll get this in his backside if the plan goes sour. “Wrong. I’ll stick it in your eye and TURN it, like a fork in spaghetti,” snarls the (somewhat vicious) boss, revealing himself to be…


…Merlyn. It’s funny to me that he was always a Batman villain, but now they’re retconning him to have always hated Green Arrow. I guess some matchups are too good to resist… With the cliffhanger in place, I am now VERY worried (especially given the solicitation images) for little Sin and her well-being. With the wedding upcoming, I hope DC doesn’t do something too drastic to try and free up Black Canary from her storyline ties.

Overall, Tony Bedard’s writing is well-done here, with Black Canary’s obvious affection/annoyance with Green Arrow coming across note-perfect, and her maternal concern for Sin working to the story’s advantage. I like the conceit of the two of them meeting in the Vegas Wedding Chapel (even if it is a very ‘Hollywood Cute Meet’ moment) and I’m even happy with Merlyn as the driving force of the story. For some reason, though, the revelation of Dinah’s quickie wedding (established by Chuck Dixon a few years ago in Birds of Prey) has never sat right with me, and bothers me still, especially given his schmucky actions here. Still, it’s a strong issue, with beautiful Paulo Siquiera art, and a skillful avoidance of overt cheesecake. I’m very impressed with the scene in the hotel and Dinah’s entirely believable nightclothes, a scene which I suspect other artists (no names, I’m feeling generous) would have turned into a peepshow. This is a strong start, and I’m liking the way Black Canary is being brought to the forefront of the DC Universe, and can easily give this issue 3.5 out of 5 stars.



About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. Batman’s got more than enough villains, so let Green Arrow take one. Who else does the guy have? I like Merlyn’s oh-so-specific obsession, right down to the meticulously-kept (and DATED!) collection of Ollie’s Arrows. That’s an interesting touch.

  2. I’m not positive, but wasn’t a Merlyn a Green Arrow villain in pre-Crisis continuity. Maybe these retcons are just a return to his roots?

  3. Matthew Peterson on

    Merlyn’s first appearance was in JLA, (defeating Green Arrow in an archery contest) a fact of which I was NOT aware until I just Wiki’ed him. I thought that his initial appearance was when he took the contract on Batman in Detective Comics, thought that, too, had him facing Green Arrow.

    That’s two factual errors you’ve caught in two days, folks. At least have the decency to let my foolishness slide for the weekend, wouldja? :)

  4. I really like that DC is putting so much focus on its older characters like Black Canary, the Atom, and Green Arrow as opposed to trying to shoving new characters down our throats.

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