Happy Friday! I hope everyone’s week is going well. Today’s ANTiFangirl was a little late today due to my immune system letting me down. So this week while taking it easy I picked up the new graphic novel Bloodspell by Paul Dini and Joe Quinones. The graphic novel stars Black Canary and Zatanna. I’ve been a big fan of Paul Dini ever since Batman: The Animated Series. He also wrote some episodes for the Justice League cartoon. I haven’t read a DC book in at least two years but the idea of a female centric dynamic duo of Canary and Zatanna by Paul Dini, made me want to check it out.
The book starts off on a promising note with Zatanna and Dinah meeting for the first time. The narrative starts with an inner monologue Zatanna, who is going through a magic test in which she needs to float to the top of a mountain. She gets to the top and to her surprise finds a young Black Canary at the top. Canary is camping at the top of the mountain and when asked how she got up here, she answers simply, “climbed.” There’s some dialogue going back and forth and then Canary climbs down and instead of simply floating, because she knows she can, Zatanna follows down the rope. It’s a sweet beginning to a friendship, and boy do I wish they just could have told that story.
The book then flashes forward to one year ago where Black Canary is under disguise in a theft ring during a Las Vegas heist, where she has to give blood to a mediocre villainess, Tina Spettro, who has also now taken over the narrative, in order to prove to her that she is loyal. Black Canary, just gives her blood away and says a little oath. Black Canary does this, without thinking there will be any repercussions. Her disguise becomes irrelevant because three pages later while in the midst of the crime, she reveals herself to be Black Canary. Her and Spettro tussle, Spettro flies off through the air vent on a jet pack with Canary holding on, Spettro flies into the top of a casino roof and supposedly dies while Canary let’s go and lands in a pool. She gets out, not really caring that Spettro just blew herself up, and then grabs a margarita from a guy standing pool side.
Then, it jumps ahead and now we’re in present day where Black Canary’s Canary Call just goes off because of the mind bending orgasm she got from Green Arrow. Hey! I’m no prude, let that Canary Call sound, but, come on? Green Arrow? Anyway Canary gets a call from one of the girls from the Spettro Heist who says that she feels unsafe, right after Canary sees on TV that one of the other girls in the heist killed herself. She goes to meet the girl, who’s hanging off the side of a bridge about to kill herself as well. Right before she drops into the water, she comes to and questions where she is, but falls anyway. Canary squeezes out a tear.
Eventually Canary goes to see Zatanna because she realizes this has to have something to do with that blood oath she took a year ago. She walks in to a room where Zatanna is entertaining a bunch of kids after she has just finished a magic show. The moment is sweet and Canary mentions that Zatanna has come a long way.
The novel goes on to have Zatanna and Canary team-up and they realize that the ghost of this mediocre villainess is possessing the team of girls who helped her in the Las Vegas heist, and causing them all to die, for some silly reason. So Canary asks Zatanna for help to see if she can remove the bloodspell so Zatanna immediately stops time, and then brings her ghost father back to ask him for help. He gives her no help, but the moment is sweet.
Zatanna and Canary go to Las Vegas in order to help one of the other girls who might be in danger. On arrival, Zatanna suggests that Canary disguise herself so that the spirit of the mediocre villainess ghost won’t know who she is immediately. She gives her a makeover of red hair and bigger breasts, but then proceeds to introduce her to people as Black Canary anyway so that’s just a waste of a silly Powergirl boob joke.
Finally, the book ends and the ghost is turned into a bird. Canary and Zatanna are about to go out and celebrate when they get a call from Green Arrow who informs them “alien robots have taken Metropolis” so they smoke out.
I had high hopes of this graphic novel, and since I haven’t read a DC Comic in a while I was really hoping it was going to be great. I was disappointed. Not once did I see a Black Canary I recognized, and I wasn’t sure why Paul Dini was holding Zatanna back. If she’s able to summon the ghost of her father, she should be able to summon the ghost of the mediocre villain.
The story felt messy, and I think it was trying to be funny, but instead came across as just too silly. It felt as though Paul Dini had a greater range for his story since in the midst of a dumb silly plot there were moments where he broke into Zatanna’s backstory of her first day in the Justice League and a random fight she had on Apokolips. It read as though he wanted to write a lot of story in a short space of time and because of it, it was just sloppy, and lost character development and heart.
There are definitely better Black Canary stories in Chuck Dixon’s Birds of Prey and Zatanna in A Murder of Crows in Swamp Thing where her father dies, and in Seven Soldiers of Victory. Both characters are also well written on cartoons like Justice League and Young Justice.
Thanks for Reading!