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Green Arrow and Black Canary: A Rocky Love Affair

by  in Comic News Comment
Green Arrow and Black Canary: A Rocky Love Affair

With “Green Arrow: Rebirth” #1 and this week’s “Green Arrow” #1, we at last see Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance (Black Canary) get together in current DC Comics continuity, a pairing that was spotlighted in “DC Universe: Rebirth” #1 as one of the “loves” that was erased. As DC is placing such importance on their relationship, we thought it was a good idea to see what was so special about the Green Arrow/Black Canary romance.

The two heroes initially encountered each other in 1963’s “Justice League of America” #21, the legendary first meeting between the Justice League (made up mostly of DC’s then-new Silver Age characters) and the Justice Society of America (featuring DC’s Golden Age heroes). They didn’t share a scene, however, until 1969’s “Justice League of America” #74, when the JLA and the JSA were forced to fight each other, and Green Arrow was matched up with Black Canary. He took care of her with a trick arrow filled with a sticky substance that trapped her. Canary’s husband, Larry Lance, knocked Arrow out cold. However, as Canary was about to be killed by a villain, Larry sacrificed himself to save his wife. With her husband now dead, Dinah decided to move to Earth-1 and joined the Justice League.

Meanwhile, in the pages of “The Brave and the Bold” #85, artist Neal Adams dramatically redesigned Green Arrow’s costume.Inspired by the new look, writer O’Neil used “Justice League of America” #75 (art by Dick Dillin and Joe Giella) to strip the hero of his wealth and give him a newly defined personality. One of the reasons DC hired O’Neil from Marvel Comics was to add some of Marvel’s famed characterization to its heroes; Green Arrow was one of the first characters given that treatment. O’Neil pointedly ended the issue with Green Arrow and Black Canary spending time together, and they were frequently spotlighted during the writer’s run.

In “Justice League of America” #78, we first see Green Arrow express an interest in taking their friendship to another level. When Canary is in danger in the following issue, Arrow expresses his love for her, which he reiterates once everyone is safe. However, Canary is still torn up over the loss of her husband, so she cannot yet reciprocate. But by Issue 80, Canary seems more comfortable with Arrow’s romantic overtures.

It was at that point O’Neil and Adams moved Green Arrow to Green Lantern’s title for the fame “Hard Traveling Heroes” era, where the two heroes crossed the country with one of the Guardians in an attempt to get in touch with the American people. In “Justice League of America” #81, Canary suddenly realizes she misses Green Arrow, who was no longer a full-time member. Amusingly enough, the Green Arrow/Black Canary relationship finally culminated in a flashback: In “Green Lantern/Green Arrow” #78, Oliver and Hal discover that Dinah has been brainwashed into joining a cult. Oliver kisses her, hoping to jog her memory, which it does, but the flashback includes events readers hadn’t previously seen, namely that Dinah and Oliver had finally gotten together as a couple!

They remained together for the rest of the O’Neil/Adams “Hard Traveling Heroes” run, including a notable sequence in “Green Lantern/Green Arrow” #86 where Canary helped Green Arrow’s sidekick Speedy deal with his drug addiction. Following the conclusion of the Green Lantern/Green Arrow team-ups, Ollie received his own back-up series in “Action Comics” (he rotated with a few other superheroes) written by Elliot S! Maggin. In “Action Comics” #428, Ollie (who was then working in public relations) lands a celebrity endorsement for one of his clients, Black Canary! However, when he realizes the publicity stunt is about to turn deadly, Green Arrow steps in and saves Canary from an explosive fate. She confronts him about how chauvinistic it was to think she required saving, and reveals for the first time that she’s in love with him. The Green Arrow feature ran from 1972 until 1976.

In 1977, the heroes each received a feature “World’s Finest Comics,” initially written by Gerry Conway, which together into one story, as in Issue 245, where Dinah decides to get a new job. Over time, as space became more limited, the feature became a shared one. It ultimately came to a close in 1982, by which time Mike W. Barr had taken over as writer. Green Arrow then got a back-up feature in “Detective Comics” written by Joey Cavalieri, but Black Canary was no longer featured. She and Green Arrow still appeared together in the pages of “Justice League of America,” however (Green Arrow briefly quit, but returned in Issue 200). Eventually, though, in “Justice League of America Annual” #2, Green Arrow and Black Canary were part of a large contingent of Justice League members who quit when they realized they couldn’t devote the time Aquaman required of the team. Dinah then began to show up in Green Arrow’s “Detective Comics” feature, and stepped out of her mother’s shadow (it had been revealed Dinah had succeeded her mother as Black Canary) and got a very 1980s costume in Issue 554.

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