This profile is part of a series, which you absolutely should read in chronological order.
Crisis on a bunch of ’em Earths
Black Canary didn’t appear in comic books for 12 years – until 1963.
(Technically, Canary appears in one 1962 flashback panel, but heh.)
This corresponded to the political attacks against comic books during the 1950s. These basically killed off the 1940s DC Universe.
But by 1963 the Silver AgeSuper-hero comics from the late 1950s to the early 1970s of comics was well underway. DC authors had invented entirely new, successful versions of the Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, the Atom, etc..
Which also meant nostalgia about the 1940s, Golden AgeSuper-hero comics from the late 1930s to the early 1950s version of these characters.
In a genius move, DC revealed that all the 1940s characters were still around.
They simply lived on *another* version of Earth. Another Earth that some characters, such as the Flash (Barry Allen), could travel to. Holy mackerel, daddy-o !
And so began a tradition. Every year, the modern Justice League would team up with their inspirations from the past, and face a major menace.
The bird is b(l)ack
The other Earth, with the 1940s heroes, was called Earth-2.
However, it wasn’t *strictly* a continuation of the Golden Age stories. Rather, it was these heroes as the folks at DC remembered them. Furthermore, time had passed behind the scenes.
Thus, the Earth-2 Black Canary seen in these stories is more or less the same that the Black Canary we last saw in 1951. But there are evolutions and slight differences.
This profile *only* covers Black Canary as seen in material published between 1962 and 1970. It’s simpler that way. No later material is used.
She has few appearances during that (wing)span. I therefore hesitated about having a separate profile just for the 1960s. But the character’s vibe during this era is different from her 1970s appearances.
So here we flap.
- Real Name: Dinah Drake-Lance.
- Other Aliases: “The Girl Gladiator”, “The Blonde Bombshell”, “The Girl Gladiatrix” (her kenningsA metaphorical/poetic phrase used instead of a thing/person’s plain old name. in captions).
- Known Relatives: Larry Lance (husband).
- Group Affiliation: Justice Society of America. Occasionally repped for the Larry Lance Detective Agency back on Earth-2.
- Base of Operations: Park City (Earth-2).
- Height: 5’5″ (1.65m). Weight: 128 lbs. (58 Kg.).
- Eyes: Blue. Hair: Black (wears a blonde wig as the Canary).
Powers and Abilities
Black Canary is a superior athlete, acrobat and martial artist. She specialises in judo and jiu-jutsu.
She’s fast, strong, fit, agile, clever and determined.
Her martial skills are more impressive than before. In-universe, she presumably kept training after the Society retired.
Let’s get physical
Black Canary is more physical than most contemporary superheroines. In 1965 she’s charging through doors shoulder first, punching dudes left and right, smashing guys into furniture, etc..
She’s comparable to the contemporary version of James West in terms of physicality. Well, except for West’s tendency to have bare-chested fight scenes.
Black Canary also knows pressure point strikes and holds that allow her to handle people with superhuman strength and durability. She’s no Bronze Tiger, but she’s skilled. And being underestimated did allow her to vanquish much stronger opponents.
Her fighting emphasises throws.
The Canary amulet
The jewel on Dinah’s choker still carries an impossible amount of tiny equipment, and these still work amazingly well. It’s her equivalent of Batman’s utility belt.
(Men who fly and cast spells is OK, but I’d agree that women’s clothing with pockets would threaten suspension of disbelief).
During this era she produces :
- A small lens, which focused the sun’s ray to set fire on nearby bushes within seconds. It could also be used to blind a thug, given enough sunlight.
- A frigi-pellet, used to freeze Superwoman’s vocal cords by throwing it in her open mouth.
- A fine, clingy red powder. It did a great job at sticking to invisible robbers.
- White knockout powder. She puts it in her palm and blows it at her target’s face.
- “Expanding sticky-web” snaring glue.
Though it’s never mentioned, my bet would be that most of this equipment was built by either Starman (Ted Knight) or Doctor Mid-Nite (Charles McNider). Which would also explain why she’ll stop using it after moving to Earth-1.
The serinus with the plus
Beyond being a professional florist and experienced shopkeeper, Dinah has superior people skills.
Her belt buckle includes a radio transmitter. It sends the signal for the Society to scramble.
So, something to evoke 1963, mmm… Oh, the Ronettes. I liked the Ronettes.
After the affair of the vanishing detectives and the Key, the Justice Society retired.
The Black Canary entered semi-retirement, though she retained close ties with most Society members.
She married that idiot Larry Lance, told him she was Black Canary, and moved to Park City.
Dinah opened a larger and ritzier florist business, the Drake Flower Shoppe. Lance’s P.I. agency also expanded to providing well-regarded security guards for events.
What have the Vandals ever done for us ?
In 1963, immortal mastermind Vandal Savage captured several Justice Society of America members – not including Black Canary. Though the Society had retired for more than ten years, Savage wanted his revenge.
Thankfully, the Flash of Earth-1 (Barry Allen) came to help the Earth-2 Justice Society.
Earth-2 Wonder Woman’s convinced her colleagues to come out of retirement. Since the Society had a rotating roster of seven, the retirees drew lots. Black Canary won, along with :
(Though a caption tells us that “their faces are lined with the passage of time”, the Black Canary portrait *right next to it* is of course as fresh-faced as ever.)
Return of the Society
Furthermore, the villains were but half of the Crime Champions – an unprecedented alliance between Earth-1 and Earth-2 super-criminals.
The Society’s response was a successful alliance with the Justice League of Earth-1.
In particular, Hawkman and Black Canary competently defeated Wizard. Dinah later teamed up with the Martian Manhunter to defeat Chronos (David Clinton).
The next year saw an attack on two Earths by the Crime Syndicate of America, from Earth-3. During this crisis Black Canary defeated Superwoman. She had the “home field advantage”, as explained in the Syndicate entry.
Fog over Park City
By 1965, Black Canary was off-duty and back in Park City. The membership of the Society had presumably rotated to a new set of heroes.
Starman (Ted Knight) was also off-duty, and visited her. This is how he discovered that Mrs. Lance was an unwitting dupe in the Mist’s latest robbery plot.
The flowers at the shop had been covertly sprayed with a hypnotic solution. Dinah would regularly report to the Mist in a trance, over the phone. And the rich people who bought her flowers were hypnotised into delivering money to the Mist’s henchmen.
Incensed, the Canary mauled a trio of invisible robbers working for the Mist. She then used a miniature star rod Knight had given her to wreck the Mist’s gang and plans, arrest the Mist, and rescue Starman and Larry.
So don’t mess with florists, okay ?
The whole wide world of sports
Weeks later, Sportsmaster (“Crusher” Crock) spectacularly stole a prize cup. Even the Larry Lance Detective Agency guards couldn’t stop him.
However, Dinah was also present as a Lance customer liaison. Soon, she was working with Starman to stop Sportsmaster and the Huntress (Paula Brooks).
As part of their crime wave, the Huntress had captured her old foe Wildcat (Ted Grant). After Knight and Lance freed him, they defeated Crock and Brooks by manoeuvring them into their own trap.
Our next scheduled yearly crisis is…
The next JSA/JLA team-up occurred when people started randomly blinking from Earth-1 to Earth-2, and vice versa. The heroes determined that a science experiment subtly gone wrong was hurtling the two Earths toward each other, to their destruction.
The situation was made even more perilous as the gigantic Anti-Matter Man, an explorer from yet another cosmos, stumbled upon the scene.
In his confusion he used his many strange powers to fight the two teams. He did not realise that he’d obliterate an Earth and himself if he touched either version of the planet.
Rock you like a hurricane
By 1968, Black Canary was back on the active roster of the Society. But the entire team was seemingly killed by androids sent by T.O. Morrow.
The villainous roboticist then proceeded to take down the Justice League.
However, his rogue creation the Red Tornado saved everyone. Black Canary and the rest were brought back to life through exposure to the form of future energy that had seemed to kill them.
Age of Aquarius
In 1969, the insane star Aquarius reached Earth-2.
This youth has been condemned by adult stars to occupy a much less powerful form, drifting in space. But he seized Starman’s cosmic rod, partially repowering his cosmic abilities so he could sow chaos.
Aquarius shoved Earth-2 into another, distant dimensionOther realms of existence that are not our universe. Only the nearby Society members, protected by Doctor Fate’s magic, remained.
Fate sent the Red Tornado to warn Earth-1’s Justice League. As long as the Society remembered Earth-2, it was possible to bring it back from its exile.
The League eventually came in. But Aquarius mesmerised the Society into attacking them. Black Canary was taken down by Green Arrow (Oliver Queen).
At that point, Aquarius emitted a sphere of killer light. It erroneously went after Black Canary.
Breaking Aquarius’ hypnotic command, Larry Lance blocked the sphere with his body just before it would reach his wife. He was slain.
Devastated, Black Canary found herself unable to remain on Earth-2. After Green Lantern (Alan Scott) and Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) destroyed Aquarius, she emigrated to Earth-1.
She’s upbeat, perky, dynamic, with somewhat hip dialogue and quips.
Though she’s a positive heroine, Black Canary more clearly evidences the tough girl character her outfit conveys. When she’s angry she’ll still act in a considerate and civilised manner, but there’s a clear feeling that she’s pissed off and it’s best not to stand in her way.
However, outside of such occasions, most of her interactions rely on charm and smooth talking.
“I’ll break a pellet of paralysis powder from my amulet — a bit of feminine charm to soothe the savage beast !”
DC Heroes RPG
Black Canary (pre-Crisis, Earth-2)
|Dex: 07||Str: 03||Bod: 04|
|Int: 06||Wil: 05||Min: 05|
|Inf: 05||Aur: 06||Spi: 05|
|Init: 020||HP: 055|
Acrobatics: 06, Charisma (Persuasion): 06, Martial Artist (incl. Techniques): 08, Medicine (First Aid, Treatment): 03, Vehicles (Land): 05
Familiarity (Flowers, Shopkeeping, North American history), Headquarters (Confined).
JSA (High), Starman (Ted Knight on Earth-2) (High).
Dependent (Larry Lance), Secret ID.
- OMNI-GADGET (ABC 7 APs) (x2). These are hidden in her Canary Amulet.
- BELT SIGNAL [BODY 02, Miniaturisation: 02, Radio coms: 16, Radio coms is limited to one preset, one-note signal.]
- MUSCLE CAR. We only see the Cadillac-like tail end of this orange convertible. If I had to pick something specific my first guess is a 1964 Pontiac Lemans with the Gran Turismo Omologato and Bobcat performance packages.
Our contributor Darci has a better guess – a 1958 Pontiac Bonneville convertible with the 310 HP engine and a custom performance package. That better matches the car seen on-panel.
It is simply used for transportation, not as a significant part of her M.O..
Source of Character: 1960s DC Comics.
Writeup completed on the 14th of October, 2019.