Arrow has found its new Black Canary, but she’s not as new as you might think. On the fifth season episode “Second Chances,” ex-Central City cop turned meta-human Tina Boland (Julia Harkavy) revealed her real identity as Dinah Drake, a name that belonged to the original Black Canary during the Golden Age era of comics in the ‘40s. Has Arrow at last found its true Black Canary?
The CW series has taken a lot of liberties with Black Canary in all of its five seasons, and Tina/Dinah is no exception. Dinah Drake debuted in Flash Comics #86 as a minor character but got the spotlight focus in issue #92, establishing Dinah as a florist smitten with Gotham City detective Larry Lance. They later marry while she becomes the heroic Black Canary.
Dinah joins the Justice Society of America in All Star Comics #41 in 1948, but later moves to Earth-1 after the death of Larry and joins the Justice League in 1969. She falls in love with the Green Arrow during this time, establishing one of comics’ best-known romances in canon. Years later, Dinah Drake gives birth to her daughter, Dinah Laurel Lance, who succeeds her as the next Black Canary.
DC retconned and rebooted a lot of its characters in the ‘80s, including Canary. In short, Dinah — who was now trained by her father Richard Drake, a police officer, to continue the family occupation — becomes a reluctant mother-mentor to her daughter Laurel, and this time it’s Laurel who falls in love with the Green Arrow. Together, they open a flower shop in Seattle until Laurel joins ex-Batgirl, Oracle, in the vigilante squad Birds of Prey.
In 2011, the divisive New 52 reboot erased Canary’s marriage to the Green Arrow and renamed her back to Dinah Drake. A teenage runaway, she’s taken in by an ex-Special Forces agent and martial arts sensei who trains her in exchange for helping out at his dojo. When he passes, Dinah inherits his school but loses it to local gangs and a fire during Scott Snyder’s event series Batman: Zero Year. Afterward, she becomes the lead singer of a punk band in Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher’s run in her solo Black Canary series. Last year, in DC’s soft reboot Rebirth, Dinah reconnects with the Green Arrow, revealing her full name as Dinah Drake-Lance.
Arrow has gone through three versions of Black Canary, all of whom are fiercely different than Canary in the comics while still remaining true to her spirit. Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) was the first Canary trained by the League of Assassins but evolved into the White Canary on Legends of Tomorrow. Her older sister, Laurel (Katie Cassidy), a Starling City D.A., takes up the Black Canary mantle until her death at the hands of Damien Darhk in Season 4. Now, there’s Dinah Drake, who shares no blood relation to the Lances but is no less a proper inheritor to the identity.
Arrow airs Wednesdays on the CW.