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Monday, November 25, 2019 

Sugarcoated column about Black Canary in Young Adult format

Here's a sugary article in the Fort Smith Times-Record about a new YA graphic novel from DC spotlighting Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino's famous lady crimefighter as a 13-year-old:
How do you find your voice?

It’s a question that each of us must answer on our own, usually in adolescence. But when you’re a 13-year-old Dinah Lance, it has a more literal meaning, because her voice is the famous sonic weapon used by the superhero Black Canary. That’s the concept behind the latest outstanding Young Adult graphic novel from DC Comics, “Black Canary: Ignite” ($9.99).

DC Comics has been killing it with their YA line of GNs, from the continuing stories of the Super Sons (male offspring of Batman and Superman) to “Dear Justice League,” a charming collection of questions (from youngsters) and answers (from Superman & Co). “Ignite” arrived on Oct. 29, and joined the A-list immediately — as you’d expect, given its provenance.
Without any objectivity or clear review, I don't see how it can join any positive list at any time.
And clearly, Cabot did a LOT of research. Black Canary has put in a lot of miles since her 1947 debut, joining the Justice Society (of Earth-2), then the Justice League (of Earth-1), then being retroactively turned into the daughter of the original, and therefore the daughter of a police officer instead of the wife of one. And that doesn’t even include her now-erased long romance with, and marriage to, Green Arrow. Or her 2011 “New 52” reboot, where she got a lot younger, much of history evaporated and she became, as the Moody Blues once understated, just a singer in a rock ‘n’ roll band.

None of which matters in “Ignite.” Cabot stripped away what didn’t click, and kept what did.
And just what didn't click? Let's make it whatever came after the early 2000s, such as the time when Deathstroke wrapped a bag over her head and chained her out of nowhwere in the 3rd issue of Identity Crisis. A vile story that definitely was a disfavor to Dinah Lance as a crimefighter. It even ignored the fact that for years, there were plenty of stories where Dinah wasn't scared of wading into dangerous criminals with hand-to-hand combat, putting her sonic scream second as a resort.

But what about the better stories she appeared in, like the early Golden Age tales in Flash Comics, her Justice Society/League runs, solo stories from the Bronze Age and late 80s-early 90s, and Chuck Dixon's Birds of Prey run? Why don't those count or click? In fact, I'm not sure she ever married Green Arrow per se in the late 2000s, recalling a "wedding special" that may have been written by overrated Judd Winick.

But the following are certainly telling of something:
I’ll admit I hadn’t heard of Black Canary before, but once I found her and started researching her, I was totally intrigued,” Cabot said. “The character has such a rich backstory to draw from, thanks to the many talented writers who’ve worked on her character in the past. I felt like in many ways the original seemed the most special, and also the most relatable to today’s audiences — not only because Dinah inherits her superpower from her mother (hello Ancestry and Me) but because I was often told as a child that I was too loud, and I have a brother who is a police sergeant, and his daughters have expressed interest in following in his footsteps ... and just like Dinah’s dad, this makes him nervous. Everything about Dinah’s story — especially the part about not being afraid to use your voice — feels very timely to me, even though it’s nearly 75 years old.”
I've noticed before these hired hands telling they'd never heard of the heroes and heroines before, and obviously never read any of their prior adventures either, and I find it annoying and problematic. There's a clue she didn't do good enough research either, because if she had, she'd know the first story where Dinah Lance as we know her today with the middle name Laurel was actually the daughter of the original, Dinah Drake, and her husband Larry Lance, came in Justice League of America during 1983, in issues #219-#220, where Roy Thomas initially established the sonic scream was the result of the Wizard casting a spell upon the infant Dinah, and her parents hoped Thunderbolt, the hex-bold genie of Johnny Thunder, could cure her, though he put her in suspended animation until the problem could be solved. T-bolt wiped everyone's memory of the incident until much later. It was all reworked several years later, in the last issue of the late 80s Secret Origins anthology, that Dinah Laurel Lance grew up normally, and acquired her Canary Cry as the result of a metagene. The second take on Dinah Jr's background may work better, but that doesn't mean there shouldn't be some clarity.
“It was important for this book for Dinah to have friends, and for those friends to have moms that, like Dinah, they get along with,” Cabot said. “It was important for Dinah to have girlfriends in the book because in writing books for middle-grade readers for so long, I know that the one thing they like better than superhero stories is stories about friendship — particularly fractured friendships or friendship problems. It’s just something readers that age are going through a lot themselves in their own lives, and so something they enjoy reading. I think it’s nice to throw in a little bit of realism and relatability in a book that is otherwise pretty unbelievable!”
Based on the following, that's why realism and unbelievability could be pretty troubling:
“DC sent me the work of several artists who might be available for the project,” Cabot said. “I immediately liked the youthful vibe of Cara’s previous work. We asked Cara to do a preliminary sketch of Dinah as a young girl and she just nailed it. The Dinah you see on the page in the book is the exact Dinah drew as her sample. We really needed a 13-year-old Dinah and that’s exactly what Cara delivered from the start. It was fantastic. Cara was the one who recognized that kids might want to cosplay Dinah, and so she was careful to give Dinah a new Black Canary costume that still looked enough like the old one but that any kid could easily get their hands on (bicycle shorts, cut-offs, combat boots, scruffy black jacket, black mask) and would also be Mom/School Approved, and not the highly sexualized Dinah of the past.”
Well! This is most fascinating. Especially when you consider all the cosplay young girls have done with Wonder Woman costumes that were anything but modest when the 2017 movie with Gal Gadot came out. Cabot comes across sounding much like Marvel editor Steve Wacker, who once said they were changing Carol Danvers' Captain Marvel costume to practical because he wanted something fitting if his daughter were to cosplay. All without considering how WW party costumes never cost DC any buyers or parents.

Now what if it turns out violence, by contrast, isn't kept to a low tone in this graphic novel? Or that "girlfriends" amounts to lesbianism? That'll just compound another example of serious hypocrisy coming from another pretentious scribe who thinks she knows better than even Kanigher and Infantino do. That's enough to avoid what's bound to be a very pretentious take on a classic superheroine. By citing Dinah as "highly sexualized" this Cabot strongly hints she doesn't really like the original material at all.

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"? Or that "girlfriends" amounts to lesbianism? " It's just a coincidence that many YA comic writers are either lesbians themselves or push lesbian separatism as a form of empowerment.


It's really just about making content for young girls who are still discovering WHAT they are.

Focus on your people and their terrible abuse of women.

Teach men not to rape.

But what if the girlfriends are not lesbians but M2F transgendered people? Or what if the girlfriends are Muslim terrorists, or secret supporters of white nationalism? The possibilities are endless, and all good reasons to shun the book without reading it or finding out Anything about it and instead complain to the publisher.

Generally YA writers skew as part of a younger generation, and so would be more accepting of lesbianism and homosexuality than older people who, say, remember a time when gay marriage was still illegal.

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