By necessity, this also includes :
- Her appearances in the 2015/2016 Batgirl run by Fletcher/Tarr/Stewart.
- Two specific flashbacks in Birds of Prey and Batgirl and the Birds of Prey (by Marx and Benson, respectively).
- A vague sense of the events at the close of the 2011 volume of Birds of Prey.
Everything else is out of scope.
- Real Name: Dinah Drake-Lance.
- Other Aliases: “D.D.”, “Dangerous Diva”, “Siu Jerk Jai” (“little bird”).
- Marital Status: Widowed.
- Known Relatives: Kurt Lance (husband), Dinah Drake Sr. (mother, deceased).
- Group Affiliation: Former Team 7 member, former Birds of Prey member, briefly a Justice League of America associate, performer for the Black Canary band.
- Base of Operations: Mobile. Formerly Gotham City.
- Height: 5’6″ Weight: 125 lbs.
- Eyes: Blue Hair: Blonde.
Powers & Abilities
She also has extensive commando experience and training, specialising in infiltration. Drake-Lance served with what likely was the deadliest strike team in the world. She’s trained in operating a wide variety of land and sea vehicles, and numerous types of handguns.
Dinah has a great natural singing voice, solid charisma, and impressive pulchritude.
From there, actual musicians in Ashes of Sunday and Black Canary taught her some music theory, musical metre, how to behave on stage and interact with the public, how to harmonise with a band, how to move more gracefully, etc..
La crême du scream
Drake-Lance can emit a powerful sonic beam by screaming. It was inherited from genetic alterations done to her mother.
Drake’s yell can shatter concrete. In most circumstances she prefers not to use it, since it’s the equivalent of firing a rocket launcher. She has good control over it, but it hits hard and collateral damage is a genuine risk.
Her sonic power could have other applications, but there’s nobody to teach her how. During this era, she is shown a vibration that disrupts a specific cloaking/invisibility tech. But Dinah likely can’t do it without being given the note to harmonise with.
Her sonic power is also the main explanation behind her singing voice. In particular it seems to allow her to be loud with little fatigue or distortion.
Distortion is just the worst.
Oddly enough for a band-based comic book, we don’t quite have a sense of the music. So I’m going a bit blind (well, deaf) here. That bothers me.
(No, wait ! Writer Brenden Fletcher pointed us toward the Black Canary bandcamp page after reading this profile. Issue solved ! — Ed.)
But since we have an all-women hard rock band during the mid-2010s, who seems to have a retro sensibility, my (semi-obscure) first stab would be the 2014/15 Thundermother format. Clare Cunningham does have a Dinah Drake vibe.
It’s a much more strings-heavy band (since they’re heavily channelling AC/DC from, well, before they were born) but it’ll do.
As a young child, Dinah was abandoned by her mother. She was fed into Gotham City’s derelict foster parenting system.
Her last fostering placement was with couple Tammy and Dave for several years, along with a boy her age. Though the foster parents didn’t seem unreasonable, Dinah was an angry and rebellious child. She ran away at age nine, living on the street.
One of the alleys where she went dumpster-diving was behind a dojo. Sensei Desmond Lamarr soon caught her, and took her in. He lodged and fed her in exchange for keeping the dojo clean.
Over time, Dinah came to do most of the day-to-day management of the dojo. She also adopted Mr. Lamarr as a father figure. Then she painfully let go of her fantasies about how her mother would come back to her.
Dinah soon joined Desmond’s students, and proved herself a prodigy in the martial arts. By age 16, she was fully qualified as a teacher and studying Desmond’s most advanced techniques. However, Mr. Lamarr died of brain cancer soon after that.
Hope that this senpai never notices you
Sensei Desmond had bequeathed the dojo to Sensei Dinah. Street gangs attempted to racket it now that Mr. Lamarr was gone, but Dinah thrashed them.
However, the gang threat forced some students to quit, and the dojo was barely clinging to break-even. Having the sensei be a 17-year-old girl likely didn’t help with marketing.
Some months later, disaster struck Gotham. Despite the Batman (Bruce Wayne)’s efforts, the Riddler cut the power across the entire island. He did so shortly before a superstorm was due for landfall. Among the millions caught in this was a person of interest to American intelligence. He was being hunted by Ra’s al Ghul’s ninja.
The man died near Drake’s dojo, and gave her a small box. The ninja after the box hunted Ms. Drake. There eventually were too many for even her, but a US military intelligence team came in.
The commando’s leader, John Lynch, was so impressed by young Dinah’s fighting skills that he recruited her. As Drake’s dojo had been destroyed during the disasters, she enlisted.
The subsequent years in 3½ paragraphs
Dinah Drake and Kurt Lance were Lynch’s two best agents, and an item. When Lynch created ultra-elite Team 7, they were the, err, linchpins of that commando. Shortly before a mission to Gamorra Island, Lance married Drake.
The mission went particularly bad. Dinah thought that she had accidentally killed Kurt – and most people in a huge radius. She had to drop out of the service. She later became an operative for Barbara Gordon’s Birds of Prey.
However, Drake-Lance semi-betrayed the team to save and restore her husband, whom she discovered was still alive but comatose. He was eventually healed but was mostly an amnesiac. Dinah eventually handed him over to Team 7 alumni Amanda Waller (no relation) in the hope that they could more fully restore him.
But Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) resented Black Canary’s actions. She shut down the Birds, and the two no longer were on speaking terms.
Black Canary in the Tarr/Stewart/Fletcher Batgirl run
Dinah lost her apartment in a fire, accidentally caused by Barbara’s equipment. That forced her to hit the couch at Barbara and her roommate Frankie’s place whilst getting her insurance sorted out. Though this wasn’t easy, they eventually patched up their friendship.
Dinah’s quest to find a bar in Burnside that wasn’t an artisanal microbrewery led her to meet the Ashes of Sunday band. These obscure local rockers were looking for a singer, and they loved Dinah’s voice.
With Drake-Lance fronting, the band picked a good gig. It was a big launch party for popular dating app Hooq. When the concert was attacked by drones sent by a rogue A.I., Dinah was instrumental in destroying them and carrying on with the show.
After the concert, the A&B label recruited her. Ms. Drake thus left for a tour. However, she’d briefly return to Gotham with her band for the marriage of Barbara Gordon’s close friend Alysia Yeoh.
We’re an American band
The new band apparently did hard rock or modern garage rock. But the core musicians came from an earlier band with the same label, Alas Insane, which presumably did revival glam rock.
(“Alas Insane” is a David Bowie reference – the album Aladdin Sane (1973) , or phonetically “a lad insane”. The story assumes that all the characters are too young to catch the reference, which doesn’t make me feel old at all.)
Alas Insane had been an all-women trio, with :
- Multi-instrumentalist Paloma Terrific.
- Drummer Lord Byron.
- Frontwoman Bo Maeve.
But Maeve’s ego kept getting in the way. The label thus made sudden changes. Maeve was thrown out, a new singer and a new guitarist were parachuted in, and Dinah was encouraged by the label to rename the band “Black Canary”.
Once Black Canary — the band — found its sea legs, they were offered a lucrative one-record one-tour contract with a decent marketing push behind it. They were assigned still-a-minor tour manager Heathcliff Ray, and veteran roadie Florence Mandelbaum.
Band on the run
The entire process had been… weird :
- Maeve had been escorted out without warning. Drake replaced her right during the filming of a music video.
- The new guitarist, Ditto, was a mute 11-year-old girl. Management said that she was 18 with a rare form of dwarfism, but that was plainly untrue. She also played like the second coming of Jeff Beck and could do effects without any pedals.
- The label was betting on Dinah despite her having near-zero experience. They also forked for expenses (including a high-end touring bus) that were not normally done for an untested band.
- The contract made no sense. One-album one-tour meant having little leverage if Black Canary made it big, even though the label was investing. But all members took it, since it was such a good deal.
- Everything was smoothly handled by expensive lawyers.
Furthermore, the tour soon turned into both a triumph and a disaster.
The triumphal aspect was that the performances were good and rapidly progressing toward excellent. A solid buzz spread among underground rock fans and metalheads (plus, presumably, YouTube promotion by the label). Black Canary was quickly amassing fans, EP and merch sales, and webzine coverage.
The disastrous aspect was that most performances ended in costly brawls. The sets were played in rowdy clubs, and Dinah’s hair-trigger temper meant a litany of fights and grudges. Several minor enemies of hers also attacked during concerts, leading to even bigger fights.
Walk on the wild side
Thus, concerts consistently lost money in destroyed equipment, legal action, damaged clubs, or Dinah ruining her fishnets ($3+/pair) and using her mike as a flail and whip in combat ($20+ per). Their Detroit concert alone cost $50K+ by demolishing half the club during a fight with some sort of aliens.
The young tour manager ended up adding a “America’s Most Dangerous Band” tagline to the Black Canary fliers and posters. With the touring budget annihilated, the band ended up in an old minibus and camping in the woods to save on costs.
The climate among the band was wobbly at first. Paloma in particular resented Dinah for being but a glorified karaoke sensation. And Dinah felt that she was putting the band at risk. But over the weeks they bonded on stage, over caring for their absurdly underage guitarist, and through fans’ energy.
Over time, the band realised that a good chunk of the attacks wasn’t directed against Dinah, but against little Ditto. The kid guitarist was hunted both by weird aliens, and by a covert paramilitary agency.
To Dinah’s shock, the field leader was her husband, Kurt Lance. Lance ended up travelling with the band, to help protect Ditto against the intensifying alien attacks.
Bo Maeve also briefly kidnapped Ditto as part of her revenge against the label for firing her.
What’s the frequency Kenneth (part 1)
The kerfuffle was :
- Ditto was a vibration-based space alien. Unlike others of her kind, she could vibrate herself into a stable material existence. She even had enough precision to create a human-looking body.
- The government knew about that, and had gained access to Ditto’s DNA at least once. This DNA had been used to enhance Dinah Sr., giving Dinah Jr. her scream. They were attempting to recapture Ditto non-lethally to get more DNA.
- Ditto was also hunted by her own kind. They saw her ability to exist materially as an impurity. As their agents kept running into Dinah Lance or her husband’s men, they decided to instead send a big vibrational monster named Quietus.
- However, Ditto had been quietly preparing a trap for the powerful Quietus.
One step of Ditto’s plan was Bo Maeve. She had appropriate genetics to receive a sonic scream if implanted with Ditto’s DNA. When Bo kidnapped Ditto, she was arrested by Amanda Waller’s men and subjected to routine testing. From there, the government would use a remaining dose of Ditto DNA to make Maeve their own Black Canary.
By harmonising with each other, Dinah and Bo would create a powerful vibrational field. When this occurred during a concert, this seemingly disintegrated Ditto – along with Kurt Lance as he tried to get the kid out of the field.
What’s the frequency Kenneth (part 2)
This was a key part of Ditto’s plan. The field allowed her to decohere, take Kurt along with her, and rematerialise. But she came back to Earth decades in the *past*.
From there, Kurt Lance arranged for all events to take place according to the plan. As “Mr. Pike”, Lance ran the A&B label.
- He had Bo Maeve fired in such a way that she would crave revenge.
- He had Dinah hired.
- He had Ditto join the band.
- He ensured that small quantities of Ditto’s DNA were available to enhance his younger self, and Dinah Drake Sr..
- He ensured that his younger self would be assigned to chasing Ditto and the Black Canary band, with orders to protect Ditto against external threats.
- He ensured that procedures would ensure that Maeve would be flagged as having desirable genetics even after a routine arrest by Waller’s agency.
- He ensured that there would be a “battle of the bands” event where Dinah and Bo would sing against each other to set up the vibrational field.
Kurt Lance then hired the Gotham Stadium for a day. He loaded it with advanced sound processing equipment and literal tonnes of amps. This was Ditto’s endgame – to fight Quietus at the stadium.
With the walls of amps, Bo and Dinah’s voices could harm Quietus. And Byron, Paloma and Ditto had enough experience and sympatico when playing with them, allowing Ditto to fine-tune the sonic attacks.
We will we will rock you (kick kick snare)
At first, the confrontation with the mighty Quietus seemed to fail. The monster absorbed every sound in the stadium, even with the mountain of amps.
But when Dinah rashly charged in, it was realised that the sonics had weakened Quietus and made it solid. The band struck it with cymbals, guitars, toms, mike stands, the smaller amps and everything else they had until it was forced to disperse.
Kurt Lance then surrendered to Amanda Waller’s agency, on the condition that they leave Ditto and the rest alone. The aged Kurt having part-alien DNA since his time travel experience, Waller took the deal.
You got blood on your face, you big disgrace
With the EP and the tour done, the Black Canary band had closed its contract. Dinah felt she should let Bo front, especially now that Ms. Maeve also had an alien-enhanced voice.
While visiting Barbara Gordon in Burnside, Dinah also kept running into enthusiastic fans asking for selfies and autographs. Though she had loved performing with the Black Canary band, fame was making her uncomfortable.
She also ran an anti-terrorist mission for Batgirl, teaming up with Vixen (Mari McCabe) as an informal Birds of Prey revival.
A less obscure possibility for a mid-2010s rock band with a Dinah-esque frontwoman would have been Kobra And The Lotus . Although their sound is prolly too metal.
On the other hand they *do* have a song about Batman. And this one could even fit sonically…
On stage, Dinah wears the traditional Black Canary outfit – black leather bodysuit, cropped leather jacket, fishnets, booties. There’s occasionally variants where the leotard’s replaced by black leather mini-shorts and a top (leather bra or bustier).
She occasionally adds one or two bits for effect. Glam rock cape, long-fringed jacket, temporary facial tattoos, epaulets, a coloured fringe, translucent throat-to-navel panel in the leotard, a neck bandana, heavier makeup… Any random thing she wanted to try or found whilst shopping.
The world’s most dangerous band
This phrase was just a marketing idea to make the violence surrounding the Black Canary band sound exciting rather than dangerous. But the band does have some unusual talents, and went through several weeks of self-defense training from Dinah.
Byron is the band’s creative director, doing a good chunk of the composing and writing. She’s also an adept bassist and drummer, capable of sitting in the pocket for an entire concert. She’s the most adult and sensible BC member, and the most invested in the band’s success.
Lord Byron seems to have been Dinah’s best pupil in hand-to-hand training. DEX 03 STR 02 BODY 03 and Martial Artist (Incl. Techniques): 03.
Paloma played guitar with Alas Insane. With Ditto’s arrival she switched to keyboards. She seems to prefer this, since she likes to experiment with software and electronics to create her own sound. Paloma works with a customised Diviner keyboard, a MacBook and hand-built effect boxes.
She has a talent for tinkering with machines and tools, in general. This extends to automobile mechanics and even, as it turns out, to handgun operation. Paloma has Gadgetry: 03 (realistic rules) and Weaponry (Firearms): 04.
Paloma tends to be introverted, and to have the keenest artistic sensibility of the band. She’s got a lot of music and sound work software on her iPhone .
Ditto is maybe 11, and completely silent. She cannot even hum. She’s an adorable, calm and affectionate kid, and the band is fiercely protective of her.
Ditto is always wearing a hat – often an ushanka or a woolen hat, but she once wore a heaume during a concert. In the evening she’s usually found in her orange, striped, hooded, cat-eared pajamas – presumably Tigger merchandise . I’d imagine she couldn’t create hair for her human body.
Ditto has Artist (Musician): 09, and can manipulate sound to apply any effect, real or imagined, to her guitar. She has perfect time, perfect pitch, perfect sonic recall. Ditto can also hand-draw accurate spectrograms using markers, perceive sound frequencies inaudible to humans, and hear extremely faint sounds.
Her alien DNA can be spliced into humans to allow them to manipulate energy. The exact results depend upon the implantee. The result with the most APs is a sonic scream, as with Dinah. Lesser results include gravity lightening, pyrokinetics and increased speed.
He’s mostly useless. But he was previously a student at Gotham Academy, which gives him ties to some fan-favourite characters.
Dinah is adrift. She lost her place in the service, she’s lost her beloved husband, she lost her home and all her stuff, she lost Dez’s dojo, she lost her team when the Birds disbanded over her actions, she lost her best friend when Barbara stopped talking to her, and she never had a family.
So mostly she hits bars, gets into brawls, acts cranky and drinks so-so whiskey. But though Dinah’s catty behaviour and Babs’ #internetfamous #egotrip get in the way, she does rebuild her friendship with Barbara. She also develops ties with Frankie Charles.
Likewise, Dinah originally joined bands for excitement and cash. There was no plan – just sets, random sex, booze, random fights and the night life.
Though her life is something of a train wreck and she has a crappy temper, Mrs. Drake-Lance is a deeply decent person. She’ll always take risks to save lives, protect the innocent and/or defend the defenceless. And while she seems irresponsible, she actually cares. Her messes are more about bad luck and no-win situations.
Or, well, just because she’s pissed off and wants to hit something. That one happens a lot. But one notes that she almost always warns people before getting punchy, and will seek a reasonable compromise if there’s clearly one.
Kick out the jams
Initially, the climate within the Black Canary band is tense. Paloma in particular hates how Bo was fired to make room for Dinah. And Dinah is uncomfortable with how the violence around her threatens the band, especially Ditto. She was worried enough to offer to leave on multiple occasion, but Byron wouldn’t lose a big chance at success.
However, they gradually gel together as they play, Dinah learns the craft, and everybody cares for Ditto. By the end of the tour Black Canary is a loving family of sorts. This makes it hard for Dinah to move on and let go of the stage, the band and the music.
Even with this sense of belonging, Dinah remains confrontational, grumpy, prone to violence, less than adept at handling frustration, and with minor self-destructive tendencies. Those who do not know how to handle her might not realise that she means well.
Dinah has expressed frustration with modern lifestyle aspects such as hipster bars, smartphone apps, Babs and Frankie being glued to their laptops, etc.. But she doesn’t seem to really dislike these things. She’s just a grump.
That’s *Mrs.* Lance
During this era, the big dark cloud over Dinah’s head is Kurt Lance. He was the love of her life. But over a few years, she learned that :
- Kurt liked her fine, but never was crazy in love with her like she was.
- Mr. Lance married her because he realised they were being sent on a suicide mission. He wanted his lover to die happy.
- Kurt did not die when the Gamorra mission did go FUBAR. He was instead rendered comatose in the explosion.
- Lance couldn’t be brought up of his coma. However, Ra’s al Ghul provided Dinah with a tiny dose of a magical serum that did the trick. Kurt was still in terrible shape, but could be revived.
- Al Ghul’s promise to provide her with a larger dose to finish healing Kurt had to be a lie. Dinah thus rejected his blackmail attempt.
- Amanda Waller’s agency had managed to finish reviving Kurt, but he was now an amnesiac.
Though Kurt did help Dinah with the Ditto situation, he had no memory of their life and marriage. Then he was seemingly slain when Ditto decohered, only to return as a much older man after travelling into the past.
Though Dinah still wanted to be with old-Kurt, she apparently agreed that the priority was to protect Ditto. Which meant Kurt Lance vanishing anew to be held by Waller’s researchers.
So, generally… not going to help with Dinah’s grumpy, aggressive temper.
Since we don’t know how Black Canary — the band — sounds (look, this is *bothering* me, okay ?), another 2010s hard-sounding band with a notable frontwoman. The previous ideas were more about trad hard rock and heavy metal, but maybe Black Canary sounds more hard electropunk ?
Something like mid-2010s Sleigh Bells , though they do have an unusual set-up when live (guitar/guitar/drum machine). And the beats on Demons are almost trad hip-hop (think Run DMC with Jam Master Jay).
Now that I think of it it might be the closest bet. Replace the machine with an actual drummer with more intricate beats, have beefier vocals (since unlike Dinah, Alexis Krauss doesn’t have a super-preamp in her throat), and replace the second guitarist by specially-programmed keyboards. A bit like Daft Punk’s infamous Aerodynamic guitar solo was once thought to have actually been played on a synth.
You’d dilute Sleigh Bell’s excellent punk quality and have something more akin to power pop, but it’d work for Black Canary (the band).
“I’ve lived hard. Some of the things I had to do to survive weren’t nice. Maybe I made too many enemies, or maybe this is just karma coming back to bite me.”
“What do you want from me ? Do you think I’m in the Justice League ? I only did like half a mission with those guys ! Aliens are *their* problem !”
(With a “fight me now” sneer) “Trouble ? I’m allergic to trouble. Oh no. That’s not it. I meant I’m allergic to show-off jerks.”
Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG
Black Canary (rock band take)
|Dex: 08||Str: 04||Bod: 05||Motivation: Thrill|
|Int: 06||Wil: 05||Min: 06||Occupation: Singer|
|Inf: 05||Aur: 05||Spi: 05||Wealth: 004|
|Init: 023||HP: 060|
Sonic beam: 09, Super-ventriloquism: 01
Bonuses and Limitations:
- Sonic Beam takes an Automatic Action to “rev up” before it can take a Dice Action.
- Sonic Beam has Scattershot.
- Super-ventriloquism only to increase her voice’s volume.
Acrobatics: 06, Artist (Singer): 06, Martial artist: 09, Medicine (First aid): 03, Vehicles (Sea, Land): 06, Weaponry*: 08
Familiarity (Military protocols and equipment, Rock band work), Lightning Reflexes, Schtick (Make-Do Equipment (Weaponry)).
Barbara Gordon (Low), Frankie Charles (Low), Black Canary band (Low).
Dependants (The Black Canary band, and particularly Ditto).
Dinah armed the band with S&W SD handguns, presumably in .40. She still refers to them as “Sigmas”, so it may be the older model with the 4.5″ barrel. [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 04, Ammo: 15, R#03].
*Technically*, 3 APs of her Artist (Singer) are a Powered Skill, but heh.
Sonic Beam is arguably Minimal Marginal. I chose to avoid the clutter, but if a Player has Dinah use it all the time it’ll become necessary.
She has other abilities, but these are out-of-scope. As in, “not demonstrated at all during this span”. Once using her sonic power to fly, dual-wielding handguns, military skills, linguistic skills, etc..
Look, I *said* it was bothering me.
Most of this writeup was done with Unleash The Archers on for mood. But Brittney Slayes, being a good lil’ metalhead, is a much more technical singer than Dinah would be. And the band is very strings-heavy.
Source of Character: Black Canary Vol. 1 – Kicking & Screaming.
Helper(s): Darci, Brenden Fletcher.
Writeup completed on the 1st of January, 2019.