Alternative Comics Beat: Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell
By Ken Porter
Black Canary and Zatanna are two of my favorite superheroines. Even before reading this new original graphic novel by Paul Dini, I would have listed them in my top ten or twenty favorite superheroes. Not just including female characters, but heroes of both genders. And let's be honest, there are a lot of superheroes in the Marvel and DC cannon.
Black Canary & Zatanna: Bloodspell is an OGN that tells a new origin story for the friendship that the two heroes share and pits them against the spirit of a powerful witch that Canary encountered a year before. Now a bloodspell threatens Canary’s life, and Zatanna Zatarra is the only magician in the DCU powerful enough to step in and tango with the powerful poltergeist.
This OGN is written by Paul Dini and drawn by Joe Quinones. Dini is one of my favorite DC Comics writers, and I’ve been enjoying his work since my early days watching Batman: The Animated Series. Quinones has a fantastic art style that captures the classic feel of the characters and makes every page a delight. Reading these characters on the page feels like that same lightning in a bottle has been captured and put in panels as the two characters share adventure and danger together against a powerful foe. And the combination of Dini and Quinones really drives that home.
Just look at some of the cover concepts that Quinones threw up on his blog a while back:
Wait… Why is this an alternative from the norm?
I get this quite a bit when I pick a Marvel or DC book for the Alternative Comics Beat. While I did start this article with the intent of recommending books that were outside the normal superhero fare, sometimes there are gems that the general public might overlook. That’s when the capes and masks take a step back into the Alt Beat spotlight and convince me that they have to be read by people who enjoy this column.
The DC Universe before The New 52
I hate to be one of those guys, but I do miss the old DC Universe. Not that it was the “original” version of the shared space for Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and even the characters in this OGN. But I do miss the history that The New 52 doesn’t provide and the legacy that those versions of the characters had.
Dini’s story takes me back to the place I grew up reading about characters like Canary and Zatanna, and while I admit I’m a nostalgia nut I still think that there’s gold to be mined from that era. I’m just hoping this brings more out-of-continuity stories into the spotlight.
Who would enjoy this OGN?
Readers who love classic DC Universe stories that are a little more on the lighthearted side will love this OGN. It has a lot of charm that the Bruce Timm animated shows have, but with a little more edge and sassy moments that Dini gives the heroines in order to stretch and be themselves. It gives the characters the chance to shine without the confines of a twenty minute episode. If continuity and issue numbers aren’t your thing, then this tale of magic, action, and intrigue is right up your alley.
Ken Porter is presently interning with Cosmic Book News and also writes comic books including "Ink Ribbon" from Visionary Comics. Ken was also the winner of last year's Top Cow Talent Search contest and was recently published in "Artifacts" #33.