Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

The Power of Fishnets: ‘Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell’

Short column this week, because I keep stalling, and few images, because I don’t have a scanner.  It’s frustrating to me, too!  But hey, fishnets!

I had intended on posting this on Halloween, but a convergence of things led to me doing this today instead.  I spent more time on Flippin’ than on any actual column of my own, and Burgas posted Flippin’ before this so I can’t claim it as my column for the week (ahem, like I did last month, ahem!), and this post also involves a semi-embarrassing confession (not a Confession, though!) about myself that I’m still not sure if I’m revealing as I type this.  Also, while this story has spooky magical elements, it’s not the main thrust of the book, per se, so I didn’t NEED to post on Halloween.  Although I should have, as I believe that Halloween is a holiday for THAT DAY AND THAT DAY ONLY, not the entire month of October, dammit!

And I have another review pending for next week now, as the book I’m reviewing got bumped to then.  Oops.


Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell is an original graphic novel from 2014, although I have the SC from 2015.  Written by Paul Dini, art and cover by Joe Quinones, colors by Dave McCaig and lettering by Sal Cipriano.  Editors include Joey Cavalieri, the Group Ed. Matt Idelson, the Associate Ed. Chris Conroy, and the Assistant Ed. Kyle Andrukiewicz (whose last name combines Ross Andru with Billy the Sink!).

The Power of Fishnets!
The Power of Fishnets!

As I recall, Dini once said (perhaps in a Wizard interview, and perhaps on a lark) that he’d like to do a book with these two characters called “the Power of Fishnets”, hence this column’s title.  I’m glad he did, as I know of the power of fishnets.  In fact (and here comes my dirty dark secret!), I discovered the power of fishnets 20 years ago this Halloween, when a young lady at my high school wore them as part of her costume.  The power of fishnets for me was that I was rendered unable to even say “oh la la Fifi” to her in her French maid’s outfit.  And it led to a major crush, unrequited of course, and made worse by her being the daughter of a teacher of mine….  Oh god, I’ve said way too much!  I hope S.H. doesn’t ever read this!

Ah, hell, if she does, that’s cool too.  She lives across the country from me now.  (Hey, it’s not cyber-stalking if you only look at her public Facebook, right?) (Note: I am also too lazy to actual stalk.  And again, across the country from me now.  I’m never going to see her in real life again!)

(Shit, I still sound creepy, though, don’t I? Hell, I might as well own it, though!)

OK, where were we?  Comic book review, that’s right!

So in the back of the book, Dini’s original proposal and script are printed, which is the kind of thing I always think is really cool.  I’m a process junkie (he says, without fully understanding what that means!).  The original proposal was from November of 2005, so this one was on the back burner, huh?  The revised script is from February of 2010, which is a year plus before I saw Quinones at the Boston Comic Con of 2011, where he signed my Wednesday Comics #1 with his Green Lantern story.

However, I digress.  This book is a fun look at Black Canary and Zatanna, and creates (I think) a shared backstory for the two of them over the years.  Not a “hey, these people have a linked origin,” but “hey, these two characters have met before. A lot”.  The book opens with a neat flashback to 15 years ago in the Himalayas, where Zee is undergoing a sort of “mystic bat mitzvah”, levitating her way up Everest (or some mountain, it doesn’t specify, I don’t think).  She encounters Dinah at a camp on the mountain, where Dinah has climbed up the mountain and camped there herself, to prove that she can do it.  Zee is inspired by Dinah and decides to make her way back down the mountain without magic, to prove herself as well.

It’s doubly interesting in the script, where it specifies that Dinah is 16 and Zee is 12 in the flashback, meaning they are, of course, 31 and 27 today (I can math, like the thing wants you to do to sign into our site!).  I think it’s probably better to leave it up in the air, although I find it interesting that Dinah is a bit older.  (Also, would that work for the Bruce Wayne/Zatanna back story Dini wanted?)

Anyway, a year ago, Dinah was involved with a gang of women that were attempting to knock over the Vegas casino vault of Dale Hollister, the owner.  Tina Spettro was involved with Hollister, but when the relationship went south, she devised a plan for revenge.  She uses a gang of women and binds them with the titular Bloodspell.  This gives her the opportunity to take revenge on the group beyond the grave, if necessary.

And it is, because Dinah has infiltrated the group after one of the members didn’t like what was going on.  She faces down Tina and after a sweet fight sequence (I really wish I had a scanner to show it to you, Quinones goes to town on it!), Tina gets a jetpack (um…because), and Dinah tags along in an attempt to take her down.  After a wild flight through Vegas, Tina lets herself crash and burn, seemingly to not bother Dinah and the crew again.

Short book then, huh?  Well, of course she’s able to come back from the dead by possessing members of the gang that were part of the Bloodspell, and after Dinah hears about the apparent suicide of one of the gang members during a post-coital cuddle with Ollie (as well as making a vibrator arrow joke!), she tries to save another member, but can’t.

So she goes to consult with Zatanna.  Zee is working, showing off some sweet magic to orphans, when Dinah comes by.  After a bit of shopping (at the fishnet/lingerie store Seams and Dreams — gah!), turning some leering dudes (including one that looks a bit like Dini) into goldfish, and going to a toy store for a fun bit, Zee consults with her ghost dad Zatara for more info about the Bloodspell. We find out that since Dinah was using a fake name and identity, she’s not as strongly tied in with the Bloodspell, but she still needs to fix things to stop Tina from making the gang commit suicide!

Now, all this makes up a good portion of the book.  The ending, therefore, seems a bit rushed, and I actually had to read the book again along with the script to realize what all had happened.

Smokin'! (ugh!)
The ladies celebrating their victory (umm, spoiler!)

Suffice to say, the threat is vanquished (although the threat wasn’t all that threatening, really), the women have fun, and we’re treated to Quinones giving us some fan service in the form of drawings of gorgeous women, including Dinah transformed into a statuesque redhead, with “Power Girl looking” chest.  In comics, where most of the women are drawn with ample bosoms, it’s a testament to the ability of Quinones that he makes us think that Dinah did get a boost with the magic transformation to be more Power Girl-like.

We also get a few more sweet flashbacks, like Zee’s first time on the JLA satellite, and a trip to Apokolips.  There’s a white tiger, a Superman cameo, and even some in depth emotions with the one gang member ruing how her life turned out since not going through with the burglary.

Quinones has a nice style, almost a more cartoony Frank Cho, with very expressive faces, and a bit of a gloss to it.  He’s done issues of FF and the more recent Howard the Duck series since this book, and what I’ve seen of his stuff is great.  This art is wonderful (and I’m too dumb to be able to pinpoint or express how or what McCaig did when he colored this book, so suffice to say, the colors are purty).

Dini also gives us a nice feel for the shared history of these two women.  I think that that history is mostly a retcon here, but perhaps those of you more versed in ’80s JLA will correct me.  They have a playful repartee, but when the stuff is going down, they know they’ve got each other’s backs.

So while the buildup was excellent, the conclusion of the book was…not really a letdown, just wasn’t wholly satisfying.  A bit too “we beat the bad guy, the end” for my taste, but that’s not to discount how good the other parts are.  Plus, two lovely ladies in fishnets, so c’mon, man!

Next: another female lead comic reviewed, if all goes well!  Will there also be more embarrassing personal revelations shared?  Perhaps I’ll figure out how to make my images fill the width of the screen like they do in the Flippin’ columns?  I doubt it, though! Check in next week!


  1. Hal

    S.H.? Hmmmm… Susan Harris, creator of Soap and The Golden Girls (and by twenty years you meant *fifty* years ago and you are older than you pretend! Bwahahaha!) But of course! Sherlock Holmes?! Sam Hill?! S.(E.) Hinton?! Hee hee! I kill me! (What’s that…? I *should*?! I don’t get no respect!)
    “…transformed into a statuesque redhead with a Power Girl-looking chest.” (Her chest looks like Power Girl? Awkward! How would she get a bra or top to fit? *smirks*) I cannot comment on that image without incriminating myself!
    Stop stalling/procrastinatin’, Mr Prorastinator, you’ll feel better – and you won’t have to change the title to Confessions Of A Comic Book Hoarder And Master Procrastinator! And think how impressed S.H. would be…
    Neat review, T.P.

  2. Simon

    For red tuna I can use 16-point, but for blue whale only 96-point is good enough.

    – “Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell”


    – “I don’t have a scanner”

    Nothing to lift via Google Image or such? (I think one of your colleagues even had a preview illo watermarked “CBR”, heh.)

    – “I believe that Halloween is a holiday for THAT DAY AND THAT DAY ONLY, not the entire month of October, dammit!”

    Travis, you live in a world where Publishers Weakly released their “Best of 2016” on November 1. You can relax a little and still have the moral high ground!

    – “[Cover] The Power of Fishnets!”

    Was that the superhero issue of STRANGERS IN PARADISE?

    – “it’s not cyber-stalking if you only look at her public Facebook, right?”

    You may wanna read Joe Ollmann’s MID-LIFE, heh. [As seen in this Previews p. 347! ~ed.]

    – “Dini’s original proposal and script are printed, which is the kind of thing I always think is really cool”

    To each his own, as I tend to think it’s cynical backpadding to hike the price with a quick copy-paste of prose they had on hand. (I like process too, but very few works deserve a script section or book.)

    – “Zee is undergoing a sort of ‘mystic bat mitzvah’ ”

    Now Bruce wants one too.

    – “turning some leering dudes (including one that looks a bit like Dini) into goldfish”


    – “I actually had to read the book again along with the script to realize what all had happened”

    So writer and artist and editor get to be lazy because you pay twice for the script?

  3. Jeff Nettleton

    Well, you are late with the title, as Ryan Daly already has a podcast titled this (formerly Flowers and Fishnets) on the Fire and water Network. However, you aren’t alone in this fetish, as a whole lot of fanboys have copped to it. Thing is, I never felt real life versions worked very well, apart from older Hollywood movies. Well, until a co-worker decided to wear a sexy red dress, black fishnets and heels. I was assuming she had a hot date, afterwards, as she didn’t normally dress like that, to run a bookstore (though she did usually, and crazily wear heels, which is nuts, in retail).

    I always thought it was a shame that Zatanna had to be animated without the fishnets, on BTAS, though I could imagine the headaches otherwise. They smartened up on JLU and used black shading to give as close an effect as they could, on Zatanna and Black Canary.

    You know DC knew they were onto something sexy, when they debuted the character and added the feature that she had to speak her spells, so gagging her rendered her harmless; which, of course, happened often. She and Mary Marvel could probably swap stories (not to mention Lois Lane and Wonder Woman, come to think of it).

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