WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Green Arrow #38
The end of Green Arrow ‘s comic Rebirth finally delivers the Black Canary love story fans have waited for. The two vigilantes are one of the most beloved couples in all of comic books, and after years of incredibly complicated drama, the storytellers who led Oliver and Dinah through DC’s Rebirth finally get things right. With Green Arrow #38, a true gesture of love from Oliver restores their classic romance.
The reestablishment of this classic relationship will please long-time fans of both Green Arrow and Black Canary, who have long lamented the death of the relationship in comics and other media. This is particularly true among the fandom of the television series Arrow, where a vocal fraction of the fan base have decried Oliver Queen’s romance with hacker Felicity Smoak. With Laurel Lance dead, her evil counterpart Black Siren on the run, Sara “The Canary” Lance firmly committed to the Legends of Tomorrow and the new Black Canary not on speaking terms with Oliver Queen, classic Green Arrow/Black Canary shippers can now turn to the comics to get their fix.
To appreciate how much history is actually at work in bringing Oliver and Dinah together means catching up on some incredibly complicated storylines. In the beginning, Oliver Queen and Dinah Drake Lance first began dating shortly after Dinah decided to make a new life for herself on Earth One, following the death of her husband. Dinah’s migration from Earth Two caused her to develop a superpower – a sonic scream used in her heroics which she dubbed The Canary Cry. It was later revealed this Dinah was actually Dinah Laurel Lance, the unknown daughter of Dinah Drake Lance (her powers the result of a magical curse placed on her as a baby) . The infant Dinah was placed in suspended animation until she could gain control of her powers, and her mother’s memories were later implanted into her body (a long way to go to explain why Black Canary still looked so young).
Following Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1986, the difference in ages was switched. Now a thirty-something Oliver Queen began dating a college-age Dinah Lance after the two met as members of the Justice League of America. In this reality, Black Canary (whose powers were now a mutation. not magic) was one of The Justice League’s five founding members and Green Arrow was the team’s first new recruit.
The two moved in together in Seattle, with Oliver taking up a job as a delivery man for Dinah’s floral business, Sherwood Florist. The two broke up in the wake of Oliver’s forming close bonds with other women that, while not romantic in nature, still left Dinah feeling that all she couldn’t share Oliver Queen’s life – only a piece of it. The two would reconcile briefly following Oliver’s resurrection in 2000, but their reborn love affair was doomed to be short-lived.
They were rejoined only to be broken apart by writers who wrongly wrote Oliver Queen as an unrepentant womanizer, when he’d previously been written as overly possessive of “his Pretty Bird.” A gimmicky wedding was held in an effort to stop the Green Arrow comic’s hemorrhaging sales, but it was too little, too late. Dinah divorced Oliver as part of the Fall of Green Arrow storyline, shortly before the The New 52 revamp of the DC Comics Universe.
The New 52 Universe saw Dinah Lance given a new background as a homeless street youth turned martial artist turned rock star. Oliver’s new background was similarly ‘updated,’ with the Steve Jobs-styled tech magnate discovering an apparent destiny as the scion of The Arrow Clan – one of a body of families tied to totem weapons, known as The Outsiders. The stories took the heroes far from their previous roles in the DCU, and most of them were thankfully forgotten when Benjamin Percy took on the task of leading The Emerald Archer into Green Arrow: Rebirth #1.
Percy brought the two heroes together again for the first time in the reality of DC Comics Rebirth, as the seeds of a relationship were planted when the two teamed to fight a group of human traffickers that preyed on the homeless of Seattle. Green Arrow returned to his political roots, while Canary was determined not to be swayed by Oliver’s charms. The attraction was instantaneous, and in the larger story of Rebirth, a sign of the proper order of things drawing them together.
The new Green Arrow comic series saw these seeds blossom into true romance. Percy’s writing depicted actual love and care between Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance, rather than the continual arguing followed by passionate love-making that earlier writers favored. When Oliver fell to his greatest depths, it was Dinah who sought him out. When he returned to set his world in order, she was the one scrubbing him clean (literally).
The love story, like the Rebirth narrative cooked up by Percy, all culminates in the ending of Green Arrow #38. The words and signs of affection continue, but this Oliver Queen is truly the changed man Dinah hoped he might one day become. A fact summed up with Oliver showing his love and respect for Dinah with the grandest gesture he can think of: funding of a foster home for homeless youths named in her honor.
The Green Arrow comic will continue, as all books and characters must. But after years forgetting why the Arrow/Canary romance was so central to DC’s Universe, fans got to see the answers clear as day.
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