THE JSA FACT FILE
Dinah Drake Lance
Residence: Gotham City
First Appearance (Golden
Age): Flash Comics #86 (August 1947)
First Appearance (Silver Age):Justice League of America #21 (August 1963)
Dinah Drake was born in the 1920s to police officer Richard Drake and
his wife. From early childhood, Dinah received intensive physical training from
her father, who also taught her basic police skills and instilled in her the
desire to join the Gotham City police force. When she reached the appropriate
age, Dinah began to join her father on certain cases and became acquainted with
detective Larry Lance. The two fell in love and Dinah became something of
sidekick for Lance. She later applied to Police Academy, only to be rejected
due to the limited space allotted for female applicants. Her rejection came as
a personal defeat for Richard Drake, who suffered a heart attack and died after
reading her rejection letter (DC Special Series #10).
Embittered by her rejection, Dinah opened a flower shop and
settled into a routine lifestyle. Nevertheless, the training her father had
provided was a profound influence in her life. In late 1947, inspired by the
mystery-men that had been prominent in America during World War II, she adopted
the identity of Black Canary. Her costume was simple: black leotards, black
stockings, black jacket, and a blonde wig. Likely due to her father's
connections and her own rejection by the Gotham police, she chose a method of
operation in which she committed petty thefts to win the confidence of larger
criminals. In turn, she secretly arranged for capture of those criminals. In an
early case, she crossed paths with Johnny Thunder and his Thunderbolt. Black
Canary easily outwitted the hapless Thunder, who was instantly smitten with her
(Flash Comics #86).
While initially playing the coy villainess, she shortly became known as a heroine in her own right. She maintained a generally more local operation in Gotham City, getting casework clues from Larry Lance's work as a private detective and often bailing him out when he got over his head. She is not known to have encountered costumed adversaries as did many of her JSA peers and often thwarted more conventional criminals such as murders, extortionists and thieves of unusual objects or scientific equipment. More unusual cases involve groups such as the Cult of the Crimson Crystal (Flash Comics #93) or when rejected heiress Ellen Masters impersonated Black Canary to murder the uncle who cut her out of his will (Flash Comics #95).
Still, through Johnny, she learned of the Justice Society of
America and craved the recognition of the stellar group of heroes. She tagged
along with Johnny to JSA meetings (All-Star Comics #38-40) until he left the
group in 1947 (All-Star Comics #39) because he was losing control of his
Thunderbolt (due to magical interference from Badhnesia, as revealed in Justice
League of America #219-220). When the Injustice Society of the World captured
the JSA, Black Canary joined forces with the Harlequin to free them. At the
completion of the case and the capture of the Injustice Society, Black Canary
was made a full member of the JSA (All-Star Comics #41). She remained with the
JSA through the remainder of its first incarnation and was an active member of
the Justice Society during its final case and its appearance before the House
Un-American Activities Committee in 1951. Black Canary joined her fellow JSA
members in declining to reveal her identity to HUAC and thus entered retirement
(Adventure Comics #466).
At some point after abandoning her costumed identity, Dinah
Drake shared her true identity and married Larry Lance. The two led a quiet suburban life and had a daughter in the early 1950's. Their happiness was short-lived however when the Wizard, after
escaping from prison, invaded the Lance home and used his powers to imbue the
child with an uncontrollable sonic cry that wreaked havoc whenever he infant cried. Despite intervention by members of the Justice S0ciety, they were unable to control the destructive
child so they parents sent their daughter into suspended animation in the
dimension of Johnny Thunder's Thunderbolt. The Thunderbolt then caused the
parents and Johnny to forget the daughter had ever existed (revealed in Justice
League of America #219-220). The JSA, however, retained their memories and kept the child's secret safe for the next 20 years.
In the early 1960's, the political climate of the United States had changed and after an encounter with Vandal Savage, the Justice Society returned to active duty. Black Canary also emerged from retirement and resumed her crime fighting career, including a frequent partnership with Starman in which she joined him against both the Mist (Brave and the Bold #61) and
the now-married Sportsmaster and Huntress (Brave and the Bold #62).
Black Canary joined the JSA in their first foray to Earth-One (Justice League of America #21-22) and participated in a number of joint cases with the Justice League of America over the next several years (Justice League of
America #21-22, 29-30, 46-47, 64-65).
In the late 1960s, the mad-star Aquarius enjoined the combined might of the JLA and JSA. In the ensuing struggle, Larry Lance was killed attempting to protect a helpless Black Canary (Justice League of America #73-74). After his funeral, she decided to move to Earth-One to overcome her grief over her lost husband. En route, she was revealed to be dying of radiation poisoning and transferred her memories to her comatose recently recalled daughter. The daughter then spent many years under the assumption that she was her mother and moved onto Earth-One (revealed in Justice League of America #219-220).
Power and Abilities
Black Canary's abilities were the result of extensive training in police skills and in the martial arts by her father (a police officer). She also carried small weapons and chemical pellets in compartments of her uniform.
Weakness and Limitations
Black Canary's limitations, like many of her JSA comrades,
stemmed from her own humanity. While highly trained, she was mortal and could
be injured and slain by normally mortal forces. She was ultimately killed by exposure to high levels of unknown stellar radiation from her proximity to the blast that killed Larry Drake.