When Black Canary lent a helping hand during a not-so-routine casino heist in Las Vegas, she didn’t realize the far-reaching consequences of her involvement with the ringleader’s alleged blood oath. Tied to a force she doesn’t quite understand, Dinah turns to her old friend Zatanna for help, sending them on a journey that carries them through time and space. “Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell” is a delightful romp through the classic DC Universe, feeling for all the world like a Silver Age caper with its bombastic characters and phenomenal figure work.
If I were to sum up this book in a word, it would be “accessible.” It’s been a long time since I’ve encountered a graphic this purely inviting. That is, a reader can pick this book up with next-to-no knowledge of the DC universe and enjoy it for a whole slew of reasons other than the fact that it centers on two classic DC characters. Black Canary and Zatanna both get sufficiently introduced through a series of flashbacks and character defining moments; from the outset, we know who they are and what motivated them. However open this story is to new readers, fans of the pre-New 52 DC universe will rejoice to see the old status quo reestablished in the books’ pages. Fan favorites like Martian Manhunter, Superman and Green Arrow make appearances, although the focus remains stolidly on our titular heroes. Dini makes one thing very clear: this is very much a story about Black Canary, Zatanna, and their friendship.
On that note, Dini does a spectacular job at fleshing out their friendship and all of the intercharacter relationships. Although Black Canary and Green Arrow share the page for only a fraction of the graphic novel, their chemistry comes across as genuine, sweet and absolutely electric while providing a few good laughs. Likewise, Zatanna and her father’s brief interaction truly captures their strong bond. What’s more, Black Canary and Zatanna’s joint mission feels completely organic; as odd as the pairing seems at first, Dini writes it in such a way that it is not only believable but indisputable. It’s wonderful to see a book that centers so fully on friendship; some of the story’s best moments took place in the women’s downtime, whether it’s their first meeting or a tour of the JLA Satellite or simply shopping for fishnets.
With the character work so central to this book, Quinones does the story exquisite justice with figures that leap off the page. Though his backgrounds are deliciously detailed and set up a gorgeous world, his characters steal the show with naturalistic body language and priceless expressions. He manages to infuse complex emotions into the characters with grace; within the first few pages, for example, Zatanna’s father shows both fatherly concern and pride with a clear but subtle expression. Quinones works in a lot of diversity through body type and size, showing off a toned Black Canary in one panel and a wispy con girl in the next. His attention to eyes, however, truly brings out his knack for life-like expressions. What’s more, this sets up a wonderfully creepy moment at the end of the book, if only by sheer contrast. Colorist Dave McCaig populates Quinones’ work with vibrant colors that pop, creating a suitably bright world for such a fun, lighthearted story.
“Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell” is the kind of book I would lend to a friend who was looking to get into comics. It’s got all the right elements in just the right amounts: wicked fun, cheesy yet nostalgic one-liners, fantastic chemistry, rollicking action, full accessibility, and stunning artwork. In short, there’s nothing not to love about this book.