Black Canary's sonic scream...

I’ve seen it referred to in a few comic books, but I’ve never seen it in action. Most of my exposure to Black Canary is either seeing her do detective-type work or getting romantic (or, just of late, unromantic) with Green Arrow.

So, how does it work? Is it a superpower, or has she simply through hard work and determination developed the ability to do that with her voice? What effect does it have on criminals? Does she have the ability to focus it so that it won’t damage the hearing of her allies?

Somebody fill me in, here.

I’m more interested in her Super Fishnets.


In the 70s, it was her primary ability. They took it away in the 1980s Invasion LS (Actually, they amplified it to a degree that she couldn’t use it without killing herself), but apparently it’s back in play. She tried to use it against Deathstroke in the latest issue of Identity Crisis.

It’s a superpower, a product of her metagene. Her other primary ability is that she’s a martial artist, roughly a second tier DC hand to hand combatant (the first tier being Batman, Batgirl, Lady Shiva, Richard Dragon, poissibly Cheshire, maybe one or two others). She was initially trained by her “uncle” Wildcat (Ted Grant), because her mother didn’t want her to get into the biz and refused to train her, but has since trained in and mastered several others; she officially knows seven forms of martial arts. Recently, Lady Shiva invited her to train as an apprentice, but being an apprentice to an assassin isn’t the most heroic thing in the world.

I thought that she had lost the sonic scream some time back when she was captured and badly beaten by drug dealers while working undercover, with her vocal cords being permanently damaged (Longbow Hunters 2), but krodil’s post seems to contradict that. Invasion happened after Longbow, so I’ll assume his info is more up to date than mine.

More recently, Rha’s Al Ghul decided he wanted her to be his mate. He had prepared a Lazarus pit to brainwash her, but an attack by Powergirl, Blue Beetle and others interrupted the plans and she was beaten nearly to death by a henchman while Rha’s escaped. Dinah wanted Barbara to use the pit to heal her paralysis, but Barbara had Beetle put Canary into the pit, which healed her completely, inlcuding her canary cry. (Birds of Prey 34-35).

She can control it. It can be a really loud sound broadcast in all directions, loud enough to kill ordinary people exposed for long enough, or enough to disrupt opponent’s balance and thought processes. She can focus it into a tight beam, as a concussive force against single opponents.

In classic stories, she’d usually use her scream and martial arts (in the earliest stories, Judo) in conjunction, throwing her opponents off balance with the cry, then kicking their butts hand to hand.

It seems to take some concentration and energy, as I don’t recall seeing her use it simultaneously with hand to hand, though it’s not inconcievable that she would do so.

It was also stolen from a Norwegian museum not long ago.

speaking of sequential thread titles…

Number Six, you’re correct about when Black Canary lost her scream. It was in Longbow Hunters, not Invasion.

Does “classic” mean the stories from the 50s? Did she have the Sonic Scream in those stories? Or did that start with her JLA affiliation?

The stories I’m referring to were the JLA era stories. As a member of the JLA, her main function seemed to be using her cry to bail out the heavy hitters when they got in trouble

The pre-JLA stories from the 50’s were her mother, who was a member of the JSA, and didn’t have the scream. The JLA stories were the current Black Canary, who Post-Crisis was a founding member, though she didn’t join the pre-crisis team until about issue 70 or 80.

Her Pre-Crisis background is kinda convoluted, because of the Earth 1 / Earth 2 thing, and her being a member of both the JSA and JLA. BC1 lived on Earth 2, and was in the JSA. She retired, and moved permanently to Earth 1. At one point, BC2 (the current one) had BC1’s memories implanted into her body, making her believe she was her mother. This story was meant to explain how she was so much younger than she should have been.

It’s much cleaner Post Crisis. Black Canary 1 was the original, and she served in the JSA. Black Canary II was trained by her mom’s friends, chiefly Ted Grant (Wildcat), but went along with her mom’s wishes that she not become a costumed hero. Then her metagene kicked in, and she discovered the canary cry, which prompted her to become a hero and help found the JLA. Her dip in the Lazarus Pit in Birds of Prey made her younger, as well as healing her canary cry.

Pre-Crisis, Black Canary got her scream as a side effect of the radiation blast that killed her husband Larry.

Then with issue #221 of Justice League of America we found out that the Black Canary was her own daughter. Lance and Dinah Lance had a daughter that they also named Dinah. She was cursed as a baby by the Injustice Society member known as the Wizard. The baby’s scream was destroying everything and the only solution was to put the baby in the dimension that Johnny Thunder’s thunderbolt resided in.

The original Black Canary was dying from the same radiation that killed her husband and requested as her last wish to see her daughter. Well, they decided before she died to transfer the original’s psyche and memories into her daughter’s body. The JLA let Dinah believe for awhile that her powers came from Aquarius and not from being the daughter of the Black Canary who was the template for who she was.


Post-Crisis, the Black Canary we know now is Dinah Laurel Lance, daughter of Diana Lance who was the Golden Age Black Canary.

Diana did NOT want Dinah following in her fishnetted footsteps. Dinah trained behind her mother’s back with Ted Grant(Wildcat) and her scream was created by Dr. Fate working with the Golden Age Green Lantern. This was all detailed in Secret Origins v2 #50.

While Dr. Fate and Green Lantern could have been mystically altering her to have a metagene, her powers were created with magick.

I haven’t read Secret Origins #50, so I’ll accept your corrections regarding the origin of the post-Crisis BC2’s powers with a couple of caveats.

Pre-Crisis, only BC2 had the scream power, which was a product of the Wizard’s curse. Her power had nothing to do with her being the daughter of BC1. BC1 was never a member of the JLA; it was her daughter with implanted memories the whole time.

Dr. Fate and Green Lantern may have used magic to induce her scream power, but I still think that as it’s currently portrayed, it seemst to be related to her metagene. All humans in the DCU have a metagene. The gene was deactivated millenia ago by white Martians. Since then, it takes the right trigger to activate the gene, usually an accident of some kind that would ordinarily kill someone. The triggers are different from person to person, as are the abilities they trigger, which is why toxic chemicals will kill most people, but activate a stretching power in Plastic Man or super speed in the Flash.

I could accept that the power was entirely magical if there were no evidence to contradicts this. It must have some physical component to it, otherwise it wouldn’t disappear as a result of physical torture and reappear as a result of the injury that took it away being healed. Magical abilities logically don’t respond to physical injury or healing. This seems to imply that it’s her metagene power. This doesn’t have to contradict the origin you cite; it could be that Fate and Lantern, rather than creating something that wasn’t there, activated her latent ability.


This sentence: All humans in the DCU have a metagene.

should read

All humans in the DCU potentially have a metagene.