Few writers carry as much clout within the comic book community as Paul Dini. He has won seven Eisner awards and three Harvey awards for his comics work, along with five Emmy awards for his work in animation including the celebrated Batman: The Animated Series. There are few things he has yet to accomplish, yet one project of his eluded him for nearly a decade.
In 2006, he announced an original graphic novel starring Black Canary and Zatanna – two of DC’s most prominent heroines. In the wake of DC’s “New 52” initiative in 2011, some feared the project would never see the light of day. Yet eight years after it was announced, Bloodspell has finally arrived, and is fantastic.
Dini, along with artist Joe Quinones, produce a fun, supernatural caper through a DC universe unburdened by continuity. Old and bearded Oliver Queen makes a cameo, as do some other fan favorites. Fan service aside, this is an adventure anchored by a longtime friendship. Dini introduces the titular characters in their first meeting. It’s a contentious yet playful encounter, eschewing the normal tropes of heroes’ first encounters with one another. No punches are thrown, but it is hardly friendship at first sight.
This is the first of many flashbacks Dini throws at the reader. It’s a technique which can be dangerous for writers to engage, yet Dini’s use is masterful. Rather than telegraphing plot points by tying them to past events, the flashbacks inform the reader of Dinah and Zatanna’s friendship throughout the years, providing an emotional anchor for longtime and new readers alike.
The art by Joe Quinones is fantastic. Stylistic and cartoonish, his artwork fits the playful tone of Dini’s script. It is, however, far from perfect. Zatanna and Canary’s faces are inconsistently rendered throughout the title. There are also moments where character models are overly simple. Aside from these minor quibbles, this is a joyous and beautiful title. If more DC titles looked like this, the publisher might not take so much frequent heat from critics.
Not much more can be said about this without diving into spoiler territory. And this original graphic novel is too good to be spoiled. Do yourself a favor and buy this now.