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As we move to the semi-finals of the 2012 DC Woman kick ass tournament I’m running essays for each of the four contenders - Barbara Gordon, Stephanie Brown, Dinah Lance and Wonder Woman - to convince you to vote for them. Yesterday, I ran an essay;on the case for Stephanie Brown and the case for Wonder Woman. If you haven’t read them, please do. Today I have essays on the other two contenders Dinah Lance, Black Canary and Barbara Gordon. First up is Dinah Lance and I’m very happy that Debi Linton aka innerbrat wrote it. Debi was one of the very first followers of this blog; and I consider her to be one of the Deans of Dinahology. Her thoughts follow.
The hardest part of writing this piece is in finding something I haven’t already written about how awesome Dinah Lance is. It’s not enough to say that she’s one of the best martial artists in the world and co-founded the Justice League and her generation’s incarnation of the Justice Society and the Birds of Prey. It’s not enough to say that she was taken prisoner, tortured and depowered and worked her way back up from the bottom. It’s definitely not enough to throw at you scans of Dinah hugging Oracle or playing dress up with Wonder Woman or kissing Batman.
Although I really want to do those things.
Like a lot of comic fans, I was sad by the new 52 reboot, for the characters that were lost, but also for the universe that was lost, and the grand and complex history and web of interconnectivity that was woven between all the characters and titles in it. And if any one character could represent that history and that strong sense of community that we lost, it would be Dinah Laurel Lance – not to be confused with the Golden Age Dinah Drake Lance who has replaced her in the reboot.
Dinah Laurel Lance was the favorite niece/cool older sister of the entire DCU. She trained with the original JSA, and later with Wonder Woman and Batgirl. In turn, she became a mother figure and a mentor for the younger members of the JSA, for Speedy and for Spoiler, switching easily between student and teacher.
Dinah was a legacy character, something we’ve all but lost with the reboot, who took on the fishnets against her mother’s wishes because she honestly believed it was the right thing to do, and because listening to wise advice would never be in her repertoire. As a character, she is stubborn, headstrong and impulsive, and leads with her heart over her head. Not because she’s inexperienced, or stupid or naïve, but because this is her choice. She genuinely believes that hope and optimism is the best way to look at the world, and the world is better for it.
There’s a reason Dinah is often set up as the anti-Shiva. Both women strive to learn and to improve, and often get tangled up in each other with mutual admiration, but it’s their motivations that set them apart. Shiva wants to kill her way to being the best, Dinah wants to use every tool she can to help people, and it’s Dinah’s faith in herself and in others that sets her apart.
Her faith in others is never clouded by naivete: she sees the people she loves for all they are, strengths and weaknesses, and refuses to take any crap from anyone, particularly the people she loves most of all. She never lets Oracle cut her out “for her own good.” She tells Batman off when he interferes with her friends, and she never ever fails to tell Green Arrow when he’s being a jerk (which is a lot of the time).
Dinah is about hope, and about friendship, and about getting the hell back up when you’ve been knocked down, and she’s about being the very best you can be and then finding a way to be even better than that. And she’s also about reaching out to the people you love and making sure they become the very best they can possibly be, whether that person is a control freak computer nerd, or a addict with a bow, or one of the world’s deadliest assassin. Because Dinah knows the world can be a better place, and she’s going to do that one person at a time.
And that is what makes her the most kickass DC woman in my book.
(For more of what I’ve written about Dinah, see this post from 2008, because much of it still holds true today)*
*DCWKA Note: go read that!