Paul Dini of Batman The Animated Series fame takes his writing and producing credits a step farther by bringing the famous-for-fishnets duo together in Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell. He has created novels and television shows that brought heroes to their prime. He has also written some of the most dumbest plot elements ever. Is this graphic novel one of them?
The graphic novel, drawn by Joe Quinones, features two of DC Comic’s most lovely ladies in their very own story. With two young women who happen to wear fishnets and are part of the Justice League, the match is an obvious no-brainer. And we all know that Paul Dini makes cute stories when it comes to the ladies. For example, who does not love Harley’s Holiday? But on the other hand, he took away Zatanna’s powers in the animated series.
Taking place in the classic DC Universe (not that New 52 crap) Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell begins with Zatanna as a child, has he parents are involved while she is still learning magic. She happens to meet Black Canary (Dinah) near a mountain top. This origin stint is charming and is in the style that Terry Moore might write in. The hard-cover book goes on to have a padded intro with a thwarted casino robbery, and then quickly leads to Dinah in bed with Oliver (Green Arrow) and uses her scream to break a vase during an orgasm. Ugh. Such as obvious and stupid sex joke. The novel’s cartoon-like imagery combined with the sexual nature of the two heroes having sex is just creepy and weird to me.
Black Canary and Zatanna do not even get together until about one-third way through the novel, when Zatanna is needed to help solve a murder mystery. But the heart and sole of the novel are the parts that reveal when the two of them first met and began working together. My favorite line is when a villain called The Key says to Zatanna, “What are you supposed to be? A cocktail waitress?”
Lines like this also point out the downside of this book: Zatanna’s powers are downplayed significantly. We are talking about one of the most powerful super heroes in the DC Universe, and she is commonly treated as if she is beneath Black Canary. Also, Dinah’s scream is repeatedly down-played. The Key literally hits her in the face after she screamed, making it clear that she is pretty useless.
I have discussed Paul Dini a little but have not said much about Joe Quinones’ work in Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell. Quinones has an appealing, marketable style that is a mixture of realistic proportions and cartoon-like facial expressions. This combination makes his work recognizable but not always appropriate. However the clear expressionistic feeling can be read from each character, making it ideal for comic books.
Despite these faults, Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspells is definitely charming and worth the effort to see out. Be sure to read it.