As Bruce Wayne’s “Zero Year” origin story gains speed in the pages of DC Comics’ “Batman,” November finds a number of other DC heroes and titles getting in on the origin story action, including Dinah Lance, better known as Black Canary, the outlaw/hero at the heart of Christy Marx’s “Birds Of Prey.”
Marx kicked off her run on the series half a year ago with issue #18, keeping Black Canary as the titles’ central character while expanding its focus to include brand new teammates such as the ex-Talon Strix and Condor, thus far the only male member of the team. Marx’s most recent issues have seen the Birds going up against malicious organization Basilisk, events leading Dinah to discover that her husband and ex-Team 7 teammate Kurt Lance isn’t as dead as she thought.
Alongside artist Romano Molenaar, November finds Marx’s series taking a break from the ongoing Basilisk action for “Zero Year,” jumping back in time to Black Canary’s past as a young woman in Gotham dealing with assassins, ancient evil and more. With her “Zero Year” tie-in just weeks away Marx gave CBR the lowdown on her issue, including why she chose to focus specifically on Dinah’s unexplored past, and what the new year holds for the present day team.
CBR News: While the Birds are obviously connected to Gotham, what was it about “Zero Year” that interested you enough to write a tie-in?
Christy Marx: It was presented to me by my editor as an opportunity to do something cool and different for that issue. It’s always beneficial to tie into a larger event, not only for the individual book, but for the overall richness of the larger world of the DC books. It was especially alluring to have 28 pages to play with. I wish I could have 28 pages for every issue.
Why did you choose to concentrate on just Black Canary for the issue rather than seeing where the entire ensemble was at that time?
It was a process of elimination for which character made the most sense. We’re going back six years. Batgirl would have been a young teenage girl, and that would also have trod on territory that Gail Simone has already covered nicely. Strix was in Talon hibernation. Condor’s back story is something I’m covering in issue #27, which I’m writing now. Canary was the obvious choice.
That said, we do have a rather fun, special issue coming up in #28 that will turn their world sideways and slightly inside-out.
As readers, we’ve already seen a little of Dinah’s back story in Team 7 That in mind, how is this younger Dinah in “Zero Year” different from the Team 7 version, or different from the person she is in the “Birds Of Prey” present?
This story covers her early years and reveals more of what was driving her at the time. It covers the gap between who she was then and how her connection to Team 7 came about. It lays the groundwork for the person she is in the present and will help us understand why she reacts as she does to the changes she’s going through.
Will the events in this issue tie-into what’s been going on in the main arc, or is this a standalone story?
There is a subtle tie-in between elements in this story and things that are happening in the present, but it’s mostly a standalone story. The main antagonist is an assassin called Nightlord. We’ll be seeing him again.
What can you tell us about your “Zero Year” story? What has drawn Dinah to Gotham at that time?
She wasn’t so much drawn to Gotham as [she was] running from something. Gotham provided a place where she couldn’t easily be found. She’s someone who didn’t have a real home and has been looking for that home most of her life. And home doesn’t necessarily mean a place; it can also be fulfilled by a person.
Romano Molenaar, the series artist, is handling the art for the “Zero Year” issue. When approaching this story, did you two discuss how Dinah would appear or act younger, or ways to really visually show where Dinah is at this point of her life?
All of that went into the script, and Romano and the entire art team have done a terrific job of visualizing it. I’m not detailed at the level of someone like Alan Moore, but I put as much guidance and visual reference into the script as I can. Remember that everyone working on the book is separated by continents and oceans and widely varying time zones, so most of our discussions tend to happen in email. I don’t want Romano hampered for a day waiting on an answer from me, so I anticipate as many of the questions as I can and put that into the script.
Looking at the main ongoing story, Dinah now knows Kurt did not die. How big a role will the reveals from the Basilisk arc play into the series after the “Zero Year” issue?
Dealing with the aftermath of finding Kurt alive will be a significant and ongoing thread. How far will Canary go to restore Kurt? How will Condor deal with Canary’s husband being in the mix? Can Batgirl keep the team together with so many stresses pulling it apart?
We’ve spent a lot of time on Condor and his relationship with Dinah. You’ve said you’re fond of the character before, but what is it about Condor that really appeals to you as a writer?
I’d say it comes from being able to craft my own history and back story for him, riffing from the original ideas put down by Duane Swierczynski, so I feel a stronger connection to him. I’ve had to spend more time filling in the gaps to bring him to life. It’s natural for a writer to become more invested in a character through that process. Unfortunately, I’m going to be rather cruel to the poor boy as time goes on.
You’ve also mentioned that you’re introducing a new character coming up in the series, and your run began as Starling left. For you, how important is it to have a rotating cast around Dinah? Do you see the Birds Of Prey as similar to Suicide Squad in that during any mission they may lose or gain members?
Letting Starling go was something that had been established for the series well before I began work on it. My inclination is to keep the team more stable rather than rotating people in and out. That’s not to say it won’t happen, but not in the near future. I want to explore this set of people more deeply before making a change. Also, I don’t want to make a change just for the sake of making a change. It should feel organic to the story and make sense.
Similarly, do you have any interest in bringing back old team members, like Poison Ivy or Starling?
I don’t have an interest in bringing Ivy back. She is, pardon the pun, a toxic character. I definitely want to have a rematch with Starling and have some plans for that.
“Birds Of Prey” ties into “Zero Year” with issue #25, on sale November 20.