Monday, September 3, 2007

On the Black Canary mini-series & Why Ollie Didn't Tell Dinah about THE PLAN

I just got done reading through quite a few blogs and have found, disturbingly, that a lot of people seem to be commenting on the Black Canary mini-series who either didn't read the book at all or seem to have, as many an English teacher has put it, "failed to comprehend the material."

Now, I'm of the position that a Green Arrow/Black Canary marriage - in general - would be a good thing. I'm not too happy about the execution thus far. I'm dreading the upcoming Green Arrow/Black Canary book for many reasons. And I think I would have preferred for this marriage to be coming about under the pens of writers who wanted to make the change rather than because some editor said "Make it so, Number One." Still, I think that later on, some good writers might be able to make something out of this concept.

But there are a lot of people who don't think this marriage is a good thing. They range the gamut from those who think that bad writing will taint this idea from the beginning to those who hold out hopes that Dinah Lance and Barbara Gordon will forsake Ollie Queen, Dick Grayson and all other men forever and then embark on a partnership that can best be explained by the 39-part fan-fict they just wrote entitled, Birds In The Hand, Two In The Bush.

And that's fine too.

What bothers me are the people who had a mad-on against Oliver Queen as a character, who are twisting any and every story they can get their hands on as a reason for why...

A) Olllie is not a good character.
B) Ollie should have stayed dead.
C) Ollie should be ripped apart by wild dogs and fed to pigs, after having his manhood ripped off and bronzed by Barbara as a wedding gift for Dinah before they move off to Boston.

One of the points that keeps being brought up by these people involves the Black Canary mini-series and how Green Arrow, without telling Black Canary, puts a plan into action that involves faking her adopted daughter Sin's death, setting himself up as being accidentally responsible for said death and sneaking Sin out of the country - all to throw off the League of Assassins, who want Sin as a figurehead to rally their warring factions around.

Is this a jerky thing to have done? Yes. Ollie himself admits to that and Dinah takes him to task for it in Black Canary #4. But before everyone drinks the "We Hate Ollie" Kool-Aid, let's recap the action of the main series... with some photographic evidence courtesy of scans_daily

Black Canary #1: We open in a fast-food place in Star City, as Dinah tells Sin about how she and Green Arrow first met auditioning for the Justice League. It is here, saving the Japanese Prime Minister, that Dinah first sees that underneath all his posing and bravado, that there is a nice guy in Green Arrow. They talk about how Dinah is still pondering the proposal and how Ollie has hurt her in the past but how he seems to have grown since then.

Hilarity ensues as Dinah leaves Sin alone for a few minutes, a fight breaks out in the playground and Sin single-handedly demolishes the place with her bare hands, unaware that they are being watched by a man who turns out to be Dinah's ex-husband, Craig. It seems that Craig owes a gambling debt to the wrong people and needs Dinah's help.

She helps and Craig, who now knows about Sin and Dinah's problems in finding a school for her, says that he knows someone at a special school for children with violent backgrounds in Star City and that he can pull some strings. The issue closes with Craig reporting to Merlyn (archer, Green Arrow baddie and card-carrying member of the League of Assassins), who we find out is using Craig as a hook to get to Black Canary, to get back at Green Arrow.

Black Canary #2:We open in another flashback, with Ollie telling his sidekick Speedy (aka Mia) about the first time he thinks Dinah started falling for him. This conversation occurs as they watch, from a distance, as Dinah and Craig are dropping Sin off for her first day of school. Ollie is somewhat suspicious about Craig just suddenly dropping out of the blue like this, but Dinah dismisses his suspicions as jealous ranting when the subject comes up as Sin, Dinah, Ollie and Mia have dinner together that night.

Ollie is right to be supicious, however, and the issue ends with one huge fight as the League of Assassins storm the school, Sin fights them to a standstill and is caught only after Merlyn, disguised as Ollie, shows up to "rescue" her. We also find out that the main reason Merlyn wants Sin, apart from being a means to spite Green Arrow indirectly, is to unite the various warring factions of the League of Assassins behind the girl who was being trained to become the next Lady Shiva before Black Canary stepped in and adopted her.

Black Canary #3:We open on the scene of the crime as Ollie, Dinah and Mia learn about how Sin was kidnapped. Dinah is angry and frantic, for obvious reasons, to the point that she throat-grabs a police officer who questions whether or not the superheroes have any right to be there. Ollie pleads for Dinah to calm down. She tells him to back off and gets ready to go off on her own. Ollie tries to stop her from leaving; a move that shall henceforth be known as Mistake #1.

With Dinah gone and off on her own, Ollie and Mia begin searching the city for any sign of where Merlyn and the League of Assassins might be hiding. Ollie notes that even if they rescue Sin, The LoA won't stop trying to kidnap her and kill Dinah and how they need a more long-term solution to help them both.

Dinah tracks down Craig and gets him to spill the beans on the whole operation and gets directions to Merlyn's hideout. Massive ass-whooping ensues and the only thing that saves Merlyn is that Dinah let's go of him... literally.

Meanwhile, Ollie and Mia - with a little help from Oracle - find the boat Sin is being held captive on. Mia finds Sin and tells her that Sin is going to have to follow her directions exactly if they are going to sneak out successfully.

Dinah chases after Merlyn and is contacted by Oracle, who tells her that Ollie and Mia have already moved in on where Sin is being held but the ship is already moving out of the harbor. Dinah crashes her motorcycle onto the ship from above using a handy bridge and joins Ollie in the cracking of ninja skulls. In the middle of this, Sin and Mia make the least stealthy exit ever trying to sneak onto a lifeboat, Ollie makes a one-in-a-million shot to try and cut the rope on said boat to help the getaway and Sin apparently loses her grip and apparently falls to her death.

Black Canary #4: Dinah goes beserk, for obvious reason, and Canary Cries the heck out of everyone present. Merlyn shows up and overhears that Ollie just killed Sin and ruined his meal-ticket as the power behind the throne. He goes after Ollie, only to be smacked down by Dinah, who makes it clear in no uncertain terms that she is his problem and not Green Arrow.
Ollie helps the rest of the Assassin Leaders to get away, letting them know that there is nothing left for them here except death if Canary ever gets their hands on them. He then talks Dinah out of killing Merlyn, purely because if he dies, he can't ever really suffer for all that he's done. Dinah says she doesn't care. She only wants her daughter back.

And then... well, we'll let the images do the talking here.

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My point with this little recap?

One of the big complaints the Ollie-haters have is that Ollie enacted this plan without telling Dinah and then counted on Dinah's shock at seeing her adopted daughter die would sell the drama. He then let her stew in anguish for three days, before finally telling her the truth.

Which is a jerky thing to do, make no mistake. However, I would like to point out two things.

First, at no point in the time after Dinah stormed off did Ollie have a chance to talk to her and explain "The Plan" to fake Sin's death. Ollie tried to stop her from running off alone so they could form a plan together and he got beaten senseless for his trouble. Dinah was not in the mood to listen to anyone, so trying to get her to go along with any plan was pointless and Ollie knew that.

Second, time was of the essence and it took Ollie and Mia, with Oracle's help, nearly the entire day to canvas every ship in the city and find where Sin was being held to say nothing of contacting Connor, finding a way to spirit Sin out of the city unseen and make all the other preparations for "the plan". There was barely enough time to do all that without trying to clue in Dinah, whom we already established was in no mood to listen, anyway - even though all three were in radio-contact as Dinah went after Merlyn and Ollie and Mia went after the ship.

I suppose Ollie COULD have said something while he was on the wire with Dinah and Oracle. But I can also picture this being a really short conversation.

Green Arrow: On our way to the harbor, Pretty Bird. Get what you can from Merlyn.

Black Canary: I will. Ollie. Don't let me down.

Green Arrow: I won't. Hey, listen... before you sign off, I have something to tell you.

Black Canary: I know. I love you too.

Green Arrow: Oh, not that. I'm going to fake Sin's death.

Black Canary: WHAT?!

Green Arrow: Yeah. I have a plan to get the League of Assassins to stop bothering you, but I have to make it look like I accidentally kill Sin to make it work. So try and look surprised.

Oracle: Boat leaves in three minutes, guys.

Black Canary: Ollie? Why are you telling me this now?

Green Arrow: I just... you know... didn't want you to get worried later.

Black Canary: You didn't want me to... WORRY?!?!

Green Arrow: Exactly!

Black Canary: My daughter is in danger and you're wasting time thinking about how to spare my feelings?! You think I'm going to have a total nervous breakdown or something?

Green Arrow: Uh, well-

Black Canary: You know what? Don't even answer that. Just try not to screw up saving my daughter, you ass. I'll be there in a bit... to give back your stupid ring!

But what if Ollie tried to get Dinah's best friend to break the news?

Oracle: Looks like that's the one ship heading to Hong Kong today. That's your target, archer.

Green Arrow: Beautiful. Hey, is Dinah still off channel?

Oracle: Yes. Why?

Green Arrow: I need you to tell her something for me.

Oracle: This isn't junior high, Queen.

Green Arrow: No, it's about my plan. We're going to fake Sin's death so the League of Assassins will leave her and Dinah alone. But Dinah isn't really in the mood to listen to me right now. So I figure... if you tell her, best friend, voice of reason and all that...

Oracle: ... that she'll be more willing to accept that it's a good plan?

Green Arrow: Well, it's a bit of a long-shot, no pun intended. But I really don't want to traumatize her if I can avoid it. I've done a lot of jerky things-

Oracle: Ollie, grow a pair and quit wasting time! There's a little girl in danger down there and even though she can kill a man with a jumprope if pushed, she's still an innocent that needs help. And if you're going to worry about your relationship with Dinah at a time like this, then you aren't good enough for Dinah.

Green Arrow: (pause) You'll tell her I had this planned all along later, right?

Oracle: GoodBYE, Ollie.


My Final Point? Sure, Ollie was a jerk in this storyline. But he was, as he usually is, a jerk for all of the right reasons. And that is why Dinah accepted his proposal - because when push came to shove, he did the right thing thing first and worried about how to justify it later, even at the cost of his relationship with Dinah.


  1. Here from WFA
    I think not letting DInah know the plan ahead of time makes, if not real world sense, at least comic book sense, and I could see Dinah accepting him after causing her momentary, but real agony. I really enjoyed the first three issues of this mini, though I did wonder why a mini entitled Black Canary seemed to be so very much about Green Arrow.
    It's the three days *after* the plan that are the dealbreaker for me. I can't believe that the good-hearted occasional asshat I think of as Ollie Queen would let Dinah sit for three days without changing her clothes, nor that after doing so that she would marry him. Those three days are there so that the writer can have Ollie move Sin without Dinah having any say in it, and that really rubs me the wrong way.

  2. Bad Writing
    It sounds a little like the real problem is somewhat lazy writing, though your post sort of convinced me to buy the trade when it comes out.
    I wish Dinah were more like she were in the early days... a reluctant fighter. We don't have any good pacifist heroes anymore, and she's perfect for it because she's so good, it's a nice dichotomy.
    I also wish she had some sort of a ranged weapon. Girl can't go catching arrows all the time. A bola. That would be good for her. a bola.
    Anyway, OLLIE IS AN AWESOME CHARACTER. He never should have died and anyone who doesn't appreciate him or how great their marriage can be is just a big pooze. Ollie is Robin Hood. DC has to have a Robin Hood, and that's Ollie. And I grew up on Hawkeye and Mockingbird, which is the marriage Dinah and Ollie should have had, and I'm going to be glad to have the real deal.
    I've already congratulated Ollie on Friendster. Everyone else should, too.

  3. Re: Here from WFA
    I can think of one very good reason that Ollie didn't try talking to Dinah for three days.
    Ollie is not stupid and he wanted to live long enough to tell Dinah the good news.
    Seriously. She was about to kill Merlyn, who was indirectly responsible for putting Sin in a position where she was endangered. What do you think she's going to do to the guy who actually pulled the bowstring that killed her daughter?
    And we already know how well Dinah listens when she is angry and that she could easily kill Ollie if she wanted to (witness the Issue #3 scans), so yes... I can easily see Ollie waiting for Dinah to cool down before telling her the good news.
    Because while waiting for Dinah to finish her catharsis is a bit of a jerky thing to do it is also something Ollie DOES have to say in person. That's not something he can get Mia or Oracle to do for him. For better or worse, it was his idea and he has to live or die with the consequences. So if Dinah decides that she still hates him and never wants to see him again, much less never get married, he still has to be a man and tell her himself without making any excuses.

  4. Re: Bad Writing
    Lazy Writing. Lazy Editiing. Lazy Artwork. Sloth in general.
    I agree that there's no reason that Dinah can't be a Maternal Warrior. I know a lot of women who are very active and capable of kicking ass but are also mothers and lovers. I don't understand why so many comic book writers seem to think that a woman can be capable of killing a man with her pinky and yet also want to dress up girly and cry over a Rene Zellwegger movie.
    Dinah already has a ranged weapon - her Canary Cry. I would like to see her use the bow once in a while though, just to show that... hey... she's not just a bare-fisted warrior.
    And I never really thought about Hawkeye and Mockingbird, but yeah... that WAS pretty much Marvel ripping off a DC idea and - for once - making it better.

  5. Re: Bad Writing
    I guess I didn't realize the Canary Cry was back. Thanks for the update. That power comes and it goes and obviously I have not been following BoP for a long time.

  6. Re: Bad Writing
    Oh yes. Been back for a while now.
    Long story short; Dinah got exposed to a Lazarus Pit and it healed the throat injury that took away the Canary Cry.

  7. I dunno - I can see why Ollie putting together this plan doesn't really make him as big a jerk as people say, and I can see why Dinah would eventually realize that the plan was what was best for Sin, and forgive Ollie and still get married to him. What seems a little hollow to me is her immediately deciding to keep the engagement. I'd think she'd want to spend a lot of time thinking it through.....but maybe that's just me. I realize that when there's an editorial decision to have a marriage that takes place in a particular month, everything else has to fall in line.
    You probably already thought of this, but I wonder if the whole thing wasn't cooked up by the editors/writers as a way to just get Sin out of the picture. That way they don't have to spend too much time trying to explain why Dinah quit the Birds of Prey because of Sin but then decided to join the JLA (and become chairperson, no less).

  8. Oh, almost certainly.
    Not that it's stopped us from taking them to task for cowtowing to Brad Meltzer's demands (i.e. I want Dinah for my JLA run) while ignoring what Gail Simone is doing in what is - at least partly - Dinah's title.

  9. I liked Meltzer's portrayal of Black Canary, at least in the Tornado's Path, and in JLA #12....the only problem is that it just doesn't make any sense when compared to her actions in BoP. But I guess that's nothing compared to how a completely different version of the Legion of Superheroes popped up in the JLA/JSA crossover than what is in other comics....

  10. I just seriously wished, after seeing what kind of character Dinah became in Birds of Prey, that the mini series was ABOUT Black Canary, and not how Green Arrow finally got her to say yes.
    And no, I did not drink the kool-aid. I swear, that seems to be the second most used term in these discussions that I've seen.

  11. Oh, I don't think you drank the kool-aid at all.
    I think that expression just gets used regarding Ollie a lot because he uses the expression quite frequently. :)
    I actually agree with you completely that Ollie should have had a minor role, if any, in this series and how by all rights, Dinah should have been the one to rescue Sin.
    On the other hand - and this is something I don't think anyone else has mentioned - Dinah was EASILY able to handle Merlyn. I.E. The guy who single-handedly brought down Ollie, shot him in the heart as an extra insult and left him bleedint to death as the Secret Society of Supervillains brought Ollie's city down around him.
    And any way you slice it, her treatment here - while not as good as in Birds of Prey under Simone - is still nowhere near as bad as her portrayal in Winick's Green Arrow, where she was all but orally raped with a sword.
    I dunno. How sad is it that I'm willing to forgive Ollie being the big hero of this book simply because it's been so long since we've actually SEEN Ollie pull off a successful plan and have a hand in capturing a bad guy?

  12. I'm sure that will be explained later.
    Well, I hope it will be, anyway.
    Legion has always been a sore-point of continuity anyway. I imagine it will be explained that every single Legion version we've seen is the Legion of an alternate Earth.

  13. Tony's response
    Bedard put a post on his CBR forum that touches on a lot of what you said ( Specifically:
    "As for Sin, nobody gave me marching orders, but it looked to me like she was completely ignored in JLA and might not have much future in GA/BC (and that's pure speculation on my part, I am not dissing Winick, whose work I happen to love). Nevertheless, I tried to find a way that Sin could be placed in a responsible situation that would meet her needs and keep the door open for Dinah to continue her relationship with her in the future. If Judd wants to pick up on that, great. If someone else does, terrific. If not, the character is in a safe place now, and I don't think I violated Dinah's commitment to her.
    But I also don't think Dinah would have voluntarily given her up, ever. This solution had to come from someone else. Dinah's big action in this story, aside from busting heads, was to see beyond the hurtful aspects of Ollie's deception to the selfless intent that motivated it. Just like she has to see past his hurtful actions of the past and see the man he's grown into I've read a few reviews by folks who didn't buy my solution. Okey-doke. But that's where I was coming from."

  14. Actually, he's been pushed out in favor of Chuck Dixon.
    And yes... that gasp you just heard? Every homosexual-friendly comic-reader in the world just realizing that the most openly homophobic man in comics is now writing a book with a very lesbian couple in it.