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Black Canary (Dinah Laurel Lance) Reading Order

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Black Canary is an alias that has been used by two DC superheroines. Created by Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino, the original Black Canary (Dinah Drake) was introduced in the pages of Flash Comics #86 (1947) where Dinah was working undercover to infiltrate a criminal gang. At first a supporting character in the Johnny Thunder serial, it took just a couple of months to steal his thunder and to become way more popular than him.

Introduced in Justice League of America #75, the second and more famous Black Canary is Dinah Laurel Lance, Dinah Drake’s daughter and successor of the superhero mantle. Created by Dennis O’Neil and Dick Dillin, she is commonly affiliated with the Justice League of America and the archer superhero Green Arrow, professionally and romantically (she is considered a member of the Arrow family). Most importantly, she has shined as one of the co-founders of the Birds of Prey team, with her friend Barbara Gordon/Oracle.

As one of the major female superheroine in DC Comics, Black Canary has been adapted in various media. She has been played in the past by Alaina Huffman in Smallville and Katie Cassidy in the Arrowverse. Lately, Jurnee Smollett portrays the character in the DC Extended Universe, having made her debut in the 2020 film Birds of Prey, and should reprise the role for a movie centered on the character.

It’s now time to explore her comic book adventures in this Black Canary reading order dedicated to Dinah Laurel Lance.

The Black Canary Reading Order

The Origins of Black Canary

Black Canary is a DC comics character known for having a complicated origin and backstory. Dinah Lance, our first Black Canary, was a superheroine from the Golden Age who was revived during the 1960s. When we reconnected with the character, we learn she lived on Earth-2 (now home of the DC’s Golden Age superheroes) and had married Larry Lance. After he was killed, she decided to relocate to Earth-One for a new start and joined the Justice League of America. There, she began to have a special relationship with the Green Arrow.

Everything was fine until readers decided to do some maths and question the age difference between The Black Canary and the Green Arrow. Or what age was supposed to be Dinah Lance, a heroine from the Golden Age? Trying to give sense to it, people at DC chose the most convoluted explanation, introducing us by retcon Dinah Laurel Lance in Justice League of America #220. In this issue, it is revealed that the Black Canary who joined the Justice League in Justice League of America #75 was not Dinah Drake but, in fact, her brainwashed daughter, Dinah Laurel Lance, with some mind-transplant shenanigans on top of it.

The Canaries’ origin stories were revised again after the universe-altering events of Crisis on Infinite Earths. Things were then simplified in a good way, with Dinah Laurel Lance as the modern Black Canary who inherits the identity from her mother, Dinah Drake Lance. To know more about it, you should read:

  • Justice League of America #220 (1983) – For those who want to understand better the mind-transplant thing, and how Dinah Laurel Lance found herself believing she was her mother.
  • Secret Origins Vol. 2 #50 (1990) – Reprinted in Tales of the Batman: Alan Brennert. This is the comic giving us the new origin story Post-Crisis.
  • JLA: Year One (1998-1999) – This 12-issue series by Mark Waid and Barry Kitson is also a new origin story for the famous superhero team JLA Post-Crisis, with Black Canary as a founding member. See also Secret Origins Vol. 2 #32 (1988), an issue that established the new origin story of the JLA penned by Peter David before the maxi-series was written.

Unfortunately, it was not the last time DC would rewrite Black Canary’s origins, doing it again with the New 52 reboot (see below on this reading order). For a good crash course on the Black Canary’s confusing backstory, we invite you to watch the video made by Casually Comics on the subject.

Black Canary Logo Reading Order

Dinah Laurel Lance during the Pre-Crisis era

Now that you understand better the origins of our modern Black Canary, the following is a short listing of her Silver Age and Bronze Age adventures, including all those stories where she thought she was her mother if you want to explore this period. She was a member of the Justice League of America and lived some adventures with the Green Arrow and Green Lantern

Black Canary Logo Reading Order

Post-Crisis: Modern Black Canary (1986-2011)

After what is known as Justice League Detroit (or the Detroit League), the crossover events Crisis on Infinite Earths and Legends came a new kind of Justice League. In 1987, Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis, with art by Kevin Maguire created a sitcom-like version of the Justice League, named the Justice League International (see reading order). Black Canary was one of the main members of the team for a whole year. But events happening in the Green Arrow at the time pushed her out of the team.

Big changes were on the menu for Green Arrow in the Modern Age, with Mike Grell’s six-year run on the character. He introduced the world to an aging Oliver Queen haunted by the life he’s led and the paths not taken. He was patrolling the streets of Seattle with the love of his life, Black Canary who was kidnapped and brutally tortured by a drug dealer. The attack also results in the loss of her Canary Cry.

During that run, Dinah lived some solo adventures written by Sarah E. Byam, available in Kindle edition…

Dinah and Ollie’s relationship came to an end when Ollie’s womanizing nature caught on to him. But Oliver didn’t have a lot of issues to live on, and in Green Arrow #101, collected in Green Arrow: 80 Years of the Emerald Archer The Deluxe Edition, Dinah learned about Ollie’s death by his illegitimate son Connor Hawke.

Birds of Prey Issue 1 - Black Canary Reading Order

Birds of Prey Icon Reading OrderBirds of Prey! After being contacted by Barbara Gordon to work in Gotham City, Dinah moved across the country to start a new life as one of the Birds of Prey. The series was conceived by Jordan B. Gorfinkel and originally written by Chuck Dixon.

JSAJSA! The team from the Golden Age, of which the original Black Canary was a member, is back under Geoff Johns’ supervision. Dinah joined the team and developed feelings for new Doctor Mid-Nite during her tenure.

Green Arrow! Dinah learned about Ollie’s resurrection in Green Arrow Vol. 3 #4 and became a supporting character in that title for a time, her presence being more important in the first part of the series. For more information, see Green Arrow reading order: The Return of Oliver Queen.

Justice League of America! Not long after taking her distance from superhero activities, Dinah was named the chairwoman of the newly reformed Justice League of America.

Green Arrow and Black Canary

Green Arrow/Black Canary! The relationship between Dinah and Ollie takes center stage after Ollie proposes. Dinah doesn’t answer immediately, and goes to live a solo adventure before being ready to exchange vows. Of course, the two of them have to make it down the aisle alive first. And then, a marriage doesn’t mean a happily ever after, especially in comic books…

Green Arrow Black Canary Enemies List

Birds of Prey Icon Reading OrderAfter her falling out with Ollie, Black Canary returns to Gotham City, where she is reunited with Oracle, Huntress, and Lady Blackhawk for a new Birds of Prey team-up, with Gail Simone returning as the sole writer.

  • Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell
    An original graphic novel by Paul Dini and Joe Quiñones. This one-off is not attached to a specific element of continuity and can be read by new readers unfamiliar with the two characters.
    Black Canary Logo Reading Order

Black Canary New 52

The DC universe was rebooted for New 52, and Dinah’s origin was revised once again. In this timeline, there is only one Black Canary named Dinah Drake. Dinah mostly grew up as a street kid in Gotham City following the murder of her father and her mother walking out on her. She met Desmond Lamar, owner of a local dojo who took her under his wings and taught her how to fight. Her Canary Cry was the result of Dinah becoming a test subject for a government super-soldier program down the line.

Black Canary Logo Reading Order

Black Canary Rebirth

Wally West was sad Black Canary and Green Arrow hardly know each other anymore, as a result of DC’s timeline alterations. Rebirth was an opportunity for DC to row back on some New 52 continuity changes, with Dinah resuming her relationship with Ollie and coming back to the traditional Birds of Prey line-up. Black Canary co-stars in three titles during that era: Green Arrow Vol.6, Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, and Justice League of America.

Green Arrow Vol 6 Issue 22

Justice League of America Rebirth IconFollowing the confrontation with Amanda Waller’s Suicide Squad in Justice League vs. Suicide Squad, Batman creates a new Justice League of America and recruits Black Canary, Vixen, The Atom, The Ray, Killer Frost, and Lobo. 

Batman who laughs Icon Reading OrderDark Nights: Metal! Present here more for context, and not at all a required reading for Dinah. Investigating a strange metal, Batman discovers the existence of a dark multiverse and eventually releases seven evil versions of himself into his own universe. That event is led by Barbatos, the dark god who plans to unleash darkness across every Earth. Stopping him will change the DC Universe forever. See Dark Nights: Metal Reading Order for more information.

Batman who laughs Icon Reading OrderDark Nights: Death Metal! Again, mostly presented here for context, and not at all a required reading for Dinah. When the DC Universe is enveloped by the Dark Multiverse, the Justice League is at the mercy of the Batman Who Laughs. Humanity struggles to survive in a hellish landscape twisted beyond recognition, while Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman have all been separated and must fight to survive. See Dark Nights: Death Metal Reading Order for more information. The conclusion of this event leads into the “Future State” (full reading order here), then to the Infinite Frontier.

Black Canary Logo Reading Order

Black Canary Infinite Frontier

In this new DC era, the Golden Age Black Canary (Dinah’s mother) is re-established as part of the continuity. Black Canary teams up with Deathstroke and continues as a member of the Justice League until the death of the team, leading us to a Dark Crisis and the rise of new legacy heroes…

The story continues in Dawn of DC…

Did we forget an important issue? Did we make a mistake? Let us know in the comments!

Last Updated on November 18, 2023.

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