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Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell
Written by Paul Dini
Art by Joe Quinones

Let it be known that anyone saying that there aren’t any superhero books for women are clearly not looking. The last couple of years have heralded a change in the comic book industry and I think for the better. A, B and C list characters are given books of their very own and being given the chance to be embraced by the current generation of readers and the new generation of readers. Not only are they being given books but they’re being given creative teams that can do these characters justice and make them worth reading about. Female characters can be put in a book but without the right team to make them compelling, the sales will plummet.

One-off original graphic novels can be hit and miss. Sometimes they’re incredible and sometimes it seems like the whole idea was a fleeting thought. Paul Dini and Joe Quinones teaming up for Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell was a dream team that I didn’t know I wanted.

Paul Dini offers up a story that requires absolutely no previous character knowledge to read. You can jump on board with this story and Dini fills in the blanks for everything that you need to know and does it in such a way that you never feel a sense of confusion and you never feel overwhelmed with the information being presented to you. The story is simple enough in concept but the execution of it is great and combines informative narration with punchy and fun dialogue. The story at the heart of it is about longtime friends and Dini nails Zatanna and Dinah’s relationship. Everything from the way they fight together, the way they interact and the way that they talk is consistent with what Dini has set up in the book for them. They’re fun, strong, powerful, smart, witty and they want to do the right thing at all times. Dini never takes any deviations that drive thoughts that take you out of the story and overall it’s compelling from start to finish.

Paired with Quinones art and the story is a knockout success. Quinones draws women respectfully and while both Zatanna and Dinah are still in their skimpy uniforms, he doesn’t take any liberties to make them additionally so. I think both Dini and Quinones wrote this not necessarily FOR women but with the idea that these are prominent female characters that will draw in female readers and in order for the book to be taken seriously, they needed to take a serious shot at the book.

That’s not to say that this book is particularly serious either. It’s a serious story, sure, but Dini makes sure to throw in all kinds of fun for readers and doesn’t let us forget that these are fictional characters that exist for our enjoyment so we should be having fun with them. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, which lately has been the sign of not only a good story to me but rather a great story.

And coming back to Quinones’ art for a smidge, but honestly he was the artist on this book that I didn’t know I wanted. His style just works fantastically with female characters and while there were a couple panels where faces were long and what have you, if that’s the biggest gripe that I have with the book, then that might as well be nitpicking. The facial expressions are the real draw to his art though. Sure, comics are basically storyboards, but with some art you can actually see it animate in front of you and such is the case with this. The facial expressions are so vibrant that you can see Dinah and Zatanna making them and how their faces moved to get into that particular frame that Quinones has chosen to put down on paper.

VERDICT
Buy it. I love, love, LOVED this story and despite reading this digitally, I’ll be spending my money on a physical copy to put on my shelves the moment that it’s out.

Paul Dini and Joe Quinones made me care about these two characters more than I have in I don’t even know how long. Their talents came together to create this book that works on so many levels and will become a must-read for any fan of these characters or heck, just anyone wanting to read a good story. I can’t say enough good things about this book and hopefully I won’t have to because you’ll go out and read it yourself.

Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell will be released on May 27, 2014.

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