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Black Canary
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceFlash Comics #86 (August 1947)
Created byRobert Kanigher
Carmine Infantino
In-story information
Alter egoDinah Drake
Team affiliationsJustice Society of America
Justice League
Notable aliasesSiu Jerk Jai, Operative Canary, D.D., Dangerous Diva, Canary, Laurel

Black Canary (Dinah Drake) is a superheroine appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. Created by the writer-artist team of Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino, the character debuted in Flash Comics #86 (August 1947) as the first Black Canary in the Golden Age of Comic Books.[1] Strong, mysterious, gutsy and romantic, she has been called "the archetype of the new Film Noir era heroine."[2]

One of DC's earliest super-heroines, Black Canary debuted on July 31st, 1947, and since has appeared as part of the Justice Society of America. She participated in crime-fighting adventures with her love interest (and eventual husband), Gotham City detective Larry Lance. She and Larry are also the parents of Dinah Laurel Lance, who succeeds the former as the Black Canary in the post-Crisis narratives. In the character's earliest stories, she was introduced as a hand-to-hand fighter without superpowers who often posed as a criminal to infiltrate dangerous gangs. For a number of years following DC's 2011 The New 52 initiative, Black Canary was briefly portrayed as one character, before her mother-and-daughter dynamic was restored to continuity.

Dinah Drake appears in media set in the Arrowverse, portrayed by Juliana Harkavy.

Publication history

Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino created the character in 1947 to be featured in Flash Comics as a supporting character. Appearing first as a clandestine crime-fighter who infiltrates criminal organizations to break them from the inside, Black Canary was drawn with fishnet stockings and a black leather jacket to connote images of a sexualized yet strong female character.[2] She appeared as a character in a back-up story featuring Johnny Thunder:

"I was drawing Johnny Thunder, which was not much of a character. I suppose he could have been better because his 'Thunderbolt' was interesting, but the situations they were in were pretty juvenile. Bob Kanigher wrote those stories, and he had no respect for the characters. These stories were nowhere near as good as 'The Flash' stories. DC knew it—they knew 'Johnny Thunder' was a loser, so Kanigher and I brought the Black Canary into the series. Immediately she got a good response, and it was, 'Bye, bye, Johnny Thunder.' Nobody missed him."

— Carmine Infantino[3]

According to Amash & Nolen-Weathington (2010), Black Canary is "really" Carmine Infantino's "first character."[3] According to the artist: "When Kanigher gave me the script, I said, 'How do you want me to draw her?' He said, 'What's your fantasy of a good-looking girl? That's what I want.' Isn't that a great line? So that's what I did. I made her strong in character and sexy in form. The funny part is that years later, while in Korea on a National Cartoonists trip, I met a dancer who was the exact image of the Black Canary. And I went out with her for three years.

Bob didn't ask me for a character sketch [for the Black Canary]. He had a lot of respect for me, I must say that. He always trusted my work... Bob loved my Black Canary design."[3]

Fictional character biography

Dinah Drake made her debut in Flash Comics #86 (August 1947) as a supporting character in the "Johnny Thunder" feature, written by Robert Kanigher and drawn by Carmine Infantino. She initially appeared as a villain.[4] Johnny is instantly infatuated with her, and is reproached by his Thunderbolt. Dinah is later revealed to have been infiltrating a criminal gang.

In Flash Comics #92 (February 1948) she has her own anthology feature, "Black Canary", replacing "Johnny Thunder".[5] The new series fleshed out Black Canary's backstory: Dinah Drake was a black-haired florist in love with Larry Lance,[6] a Gotham City Police Department detective. She first meets the Justice Society of America in All Star Comics #38 (December 1947-January 1948),[7] joining them in All Star Comics #41 (June–July 1948).[8] Black Canary's foes include criminal circus act Carno and His Masked Riders, and the Sacred Order of the Crimson Crystal.[9]

Black Canary was revived with the other Golden Age characters during the 1960s. In these stories, it is retroactively established she lives on the parallel world of Earth-2 (home of DC's Golden Age versions of its characters) in Ireland. Married to Larry Lance since the 1950s, Dinah participates in annual team-ups between the Justice Society and Earth-1's Justice League of America.[6]

In a 1969 JLA/JSA team-up against the rogue star-creature Aquarius, who banished Earth-2's inhabitants (except the JSA) to another dimension, Larry Lance is killed saving Dinah's life and Aquarius is defeated.[10] Grief-stricken, Canary moves to Earth-1 and joins the Justice League. She begins a relationship with JLA colleague Green Arrow and discovers that she has developed an ultrasonic scream, the "canary cry."[11]

Black Canary teams with Batman five times in The Brave and the Bold[12][13][14][15][16] and once with Superman in DC Comics Presents.[17] Appearing frequently as a guest in the "Green Arrow" backup feature of Action Comics,[18] she was a backup feature in World's Finest Comics #244 (April–May 1977) to #256 (April–May 1979) (when the title was in Dollar Comics format).[19] Black Canary's backstory was featured in DC Special Series #10 (April 1978).[20] After the "Black Canary" feature in World's Finest Comics, she appears as a guest in its "Green Arrow" feature and in Detective Comics.[18]

A story in Justice League of America #219-220 (October and November 1983) served to explain the origin of Black Canary's new sonic scream powers, and further, why she continued to appear youthful despite being active since the late 1940s (thereby making her nearly 60 years old). It was established that during the 1950s, she and Larry had a daughter, Dinah Laurel Lance, who was cursed by the Wizard with a devastating sonic scream. Her mother hoped that Johnny Thunder's Thunderbolt could cure her, but the Thunderbolt was only able to keep the younger Dinah in suspended animation in his own dimension. To ease their pain, the Thunderbolt altered the memories of the tragedy, leaving all to believe Dinah's daughter had simply died. Following the battle with Aquarius, Dinah discovered she was dying from radiation exposure, and she asked to see her daughter's grave one last time. Shown the body of her daughter—still in suspended animation, but now grown to adulthood—Dinah wished that she could somehow be her successor. The Superman of Earth-1 and the Thunderbolt conceived a solution and transferred Dinah's memories into her daughter's body so that she could continue fighting as the Black Canary.[6][21][22]

A Black Canary miniseries by writer Greg Weisman and artist Mike Sekowsky was planned in 1984. Although its first issue was pencilled, the project was shelved due to the character's use in writer-artist Mike Grell's high-profile Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters series. Elements of the project were used in Weisman's short film, DC Showcase: Green Arrow.[23]

When DC rebooted its continuity with The New 52, the character was amalgamated with Dinah Laurel Lance, and took the name Dinah Drake.[24] The Golden Age Black Canary was restored to continuity in the lead-up to DC's Infinite Frontier initiative.[25]

Powers and abilities

Dinah Drake is an expert at acrobatics and hand-to-hand combat. She can also train black canaries to do tricks.

In "The New 52" continuity, Dinah Drake possesses an ultrasonic scream.


Dinah Drake wears a locket on her neck choker which can release a small knife or a smoke pellet when activated. It also contains other items like an expandable sticky web, sneezing powder, and a converging lens.

Dinah Drake also rides a motorcycle.

Golden Age bibliography

The Black Canary appeared in:[26]

In other media

Main article: Black Canary in other media




Dinah Drake / Black Canary makes a cameo appearance in the DC Super Hero Girls episode "Welcome to Super Hero High".

See also


  1. ^ Cowsill, Alan; Irvine, Alex; Korte, Steve; Manning, Matt; Wiacek, Win; Wilson, Sven (2016). The DC Comics Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide to the Characters of the DC Universe. DK Publishing. p. 42. ISBN 978-1-4654-5357-0.
  2. ^ a b Madrid, Mike (2016). The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy and the History of Comic Book Heroines. Exterminating Angel Press. pp. 26–28. ISBN 978-1-935259-33-6. Retrieved April 10, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c Amash, Jim; Nolen-Weathington, Eric (2010). Carmine Infantino: Penciler, Publisher, Provocateur. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. pp. 30–32. ISBN 978-1605490250.
  4. ^ Wallace, Daniel; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1940s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 55. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. Debuting as a supporting character in a six-page Johnny Thunder feature written by Robert Kanigher and penciled by Carmine Infantino, Dinah Drake [the Black Canary] was originally presented as a villain. ((cite book)): |first2= has generic name (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ Daniels, Les (1995). "The Also-Rans: Trapped in the Back of the Book". DC Comics: Sixty Years of the World's Favorite Comic Book Heroes. New York, New York: Bulfinch Press. p. 86. ISBN 0821220764. [Carmine] Infantino and writer Robert Kanigher were evidently tired of Johnny Thunder's comical antics and eager to promote the Black Canary, who in February 1948 bumped Johnny from both Flash Comics and the Justice Society stories in All Star Comics.
  6. ^ a b c Markstein, Don (2006). "The Black Canary". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on July 27, 2014.
  7. ^ Wallace "1940s" in Dolan, p. 57: "In a sign of the character's growing popularity, Black Canary made her first appearance outside of Flash Comics in a feature by writer Robert Kanigher and artist Alex Toth... By the story's end, Black Canary was considered for JSA membership but wouldn't officially join until All Star Comics #41."
  8. ^ Thomas, Roy (2000). "The Golden Age of the Justice Society". All-Star Companion Volume 1. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. pp. 150–151. ISBN 1-893905-055.
  9. ^ Nevins, Jess (2013). Encyclopedia of Golden Age Superheroes. High Rock Press. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-61318-023-5.
  10. ^ O'Neil, Dennis (w), Dillin, Dick (p), Greene, Sid (i). "Where Death Fears to Tread" Justice League of America, no. 74 (September 1969).
  11. ^ McAvennie, Michael "1960s" in Dolan, p. 135: "November [1969] saw Black Canary both relocate and develop her 'canary cry'...The crime-fighting beauty at the behest of writer Denny O'Neil and artist Dick Dillin, left the JSA on Earth-2 to join the JLA on Earth-1."
  12. ^ Haney, Bob (w), Cardy, Nick (p), Cardy, Nick (i). "A Cold Corpse for the Collector" The Brave and the Bold, no. 91 (August–September 1970).
  13. ^ Haney, Bob (w), Aparo, Jim (p), Aparo, Jim (i). "The Warrior in a Wheel-Chair" The Brave and the Bold, no. 100 (February–March 1972).
  14. ^ Haney, Bob (w), Aparo, Jim (p), Aparo, Jim (i). "The 3-Million Dollar Sky" The Brave and the Bold, no. 107 (June–July 1973).
  15. ^ Haney, Bob (w), Aparo, Jim (p), Aparo, Jim (i). "Pay -- or Die!" The Brave and the Bold, no. 141 (May–June 1978).
  16. ^ Fleisher, Michael (w), Giordano, Dick (p), Austin, Terry (i). "Requiem for 4 Canaries!" The Brave and the Bold, no. 166 (September 1980).
  17. ^ Conway, Gerry (w), Swan, Curt (p), Colletta, Vince (i). "A Dream of Demons!" DC Comics Presents, no. 30 (February 1981).
  18. ^ a b Kingman, Jim (May 2013). "The Ballad of Ollie and Dinah". Back Issue! (64). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 10–21.
  19. ^ Romero, Max (July 2012). "I'll Buy That For a Dollar! DC Comics' Dollar Comics". Back Issue! (57). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 39–41.
  20. ^ Conway, Gerry (w), Vosburg, Mike (p), Austin, Terry (i). "The Canary Is a Bird of Prey" DC Special Series, no. 10 (April 1978).
  21. ^ Thomas, Roy; Conway, Gerry (w), Patton, Chuck (p), Tanghal, Romeo (i). "Crisis in the Thunderbolt Dimension!" Justice League of America, no. 219 (October 1983).
  22. ^ Thomas, Roy (w), Patton, Chuck (p), Tanghal, Romeo; Marcos, Pablo (i). "The Doppelganger Gambit" Justice League of America, no. 220 (November 1983).
  23. ^ Wells, John (February 2011). "Failure to Launch: The Black Canary Miniseries That Never Took Flight". Back Issue! (46). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 45–52.
  24. ^ Swiercynski, Duane (w), Molenaar, Romand (p), Cifuentes, Vicente (i). "First Flight" Birds of Prey, vol. 3, no. 0 (November 2012).
  25. ^ Herbison, Andrew (August 19, 2021). "Batman: Urban Legends Quietly Revives a Major Justice Society Legacy". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved August 19, 2021.
  26. ^ Benton, Mike (1992). Superhero Comics of the Golden Age: The Illustrated History. Dallas: Taylor Publishing Company. p. 164. ISBN 0-87833-808-X. Retrieved April 8, 2020.