From the “Lost Stories” file comes this, “The Children’s Crusade,” a proposal I wrote in January of 1989 for a 3-issue DC Comics Prestige Format Black Canary miniseries that was, according to the title page, to be drawn by Michael Davis. I remember Michael very well; I don’t remember working on this proposal with him. I also don’t remember writing this proposal. But reading it thirty years later, I can see why it’s so unmemorable and wasn’t picked up. Or maybe there was a later draft that got better that I no longer have. Whatever. I present here, for historic purposes…

BLACK CANARY: The Children’s Crusade Synopsis for a 3-Book Prestige Format Mini-Series


(First Draft, 1/13/89)

Dinah Lance is pregnant.

After long believing that there was no room in the dangerous lives of Black Canary and Green Arrow for a child, she and Oliver Queen are going to be parents.

Now she has to deal with this dramatic and drastic change in her life and her lifestyle, with forsaking her activities as Black Canary to protect the child she’s carrying.

Dinah knows the hazards the child of costumed heroes face; she grew up the daughter of the original Black Canary, friends to the superheroes of the Justice Society of America. As a teenager, she learned firsthand from Ted (Wildcat) Grant how his own child was kidnapped by one of his enemies, never to be seen again.

Dinah is nothing if not realistic in her view that the world is itself a dangerous place to raise children for any parent. These days it’s impossible to turn around without hearing reports of abused children, of the epidemic of drugs in the streets and schools, of the poor quality of education, of gang violence, of dangerous Influences assaulting them from the media, of hazardous chemicals in the air , water, and food. In short, it seems that everything conspires against a kid being able to grow up whole and unaffected by the dangerous influences surrounding them.

As Black Canary, Dinah has confronted many of these problems, taken to heart the sadness and suffering of their young victims…but now the stakes have been raised. The problems are no longer something that affect other people and their children.

Now It’s become personal.


In spite of her decision to curtail her activities as Black Canary for the duration of her pregnancy, Dinah finds herself drawn into a series of events which she simply can’t turn her back on,

Dinah remembers her own childhood as an almost magical time, growing up with loving, nurturing parents and surrounded by “aunts” and “uncles” who were superheroes. But now, expecting a child of her own, she becomes hyper-aware of children who don’t have the same advantages she did.

Thirteen-year old Barry McGovern and his 10-year old sister Debbie are two such kids. Their father Winston is a wealthy man, owner of McGovern Pharmaceuticals, their mother a prominent member on the Seattle social scene. They live in luxury, attended by servants, enrolled in the best private school…and are regularly beaten by their father,

Tony Hernandez is at the other end of the spectrum. At 14, he’s been out on his own in the streets for three years, since fleeing living with his alcoholic mother, doing whatever was necessary to survive. At the moment that involves dealing drugs

Lucy Wilson is barely more than a child herself, but at 17 she’s already mother to a one-year old daughter, thrown out of her home by her parents when she became pregnant. Lucy is on welfare, supplementing her income by taking odd jobs wherever she can find them, but raising a baby on her own is hard. Sometimes she’s not sure she can handle it. Sometimes she can’t.

The stories of these four children will be Introduced and followed throughout the first book, a trio of seemingly unrelated stories threading through the main story which will eventually all come together as Dinah becomes involved in the “Children’s Crusade.”

With Oliver out of town on a job as Green Arrow, Dinah intends to stick close to business at Sherwood Florists and not get involved in any trouble. But trouble comes to her when a group of street drug dealers being chased by the police try to make their stand in her shop. There’s a shoot-out between dealers and cops when the dealers pull guns, resulting in some of the young teenage dealers being shot. But Dinah stays true to her decision and keeps out of the melee.

However, as a witness to the shooting, she does have to In and give a statement to the police. There she learns from detective Lt. Jim Cameron that the dealers involved in the shooting were selling “designer drugs,” narcotics synthesized in laboratories. This particular strain of drug has only recently hit the streets and, because It’s so cheap, it’s become very popular with young school kids.

However, the drug seems to be fatal to a great number of kids who use it, with a dozen deaths and twice that many kids in serious medical condition since the stuff first became known to them a few weeks ago. Cameron says he’s not telling her this to invite her to get involved as the cops are working hard on the case This is fine by Dinah. She’s on hiatus from crimefighting, even if she can’t turn off her emotions and how this horror affects her.

Throughout the story, Dinah will have cause to remember nep own childhood and origin, prompted by her fears and doubts towards motherhood or by situations she faces in the course of the action. Some of these memories will out in talks with psychotherapist, Dr. Annie Green, others rising unbidden from memory, triggered by something as simple as seeing a mother in her shop slap her child out of annoyance.

Dinah will also become painfully aware of the plight of children in the world, unable to turn on a radio or television or pick up a newspaper without finding some new evidence of the potential horrors waiting to face her unborn child. A few months ago, she might have had only a passing interest in such events as the Joel Steinberg trial; today, it—and like situations—seems to be all she hears about.

A simple business meeting to discuss supplying flower arrangements to a hospital giftshop brings Dinah face-to-face with an abused infant brought into the hospital emergency room. A walk home after dinner with a friend shows her streets filled with lost or abandoned children, some selling their bodies, others deadening their pain with drugs. A visit to her obstetrician for a check-up reveals the large number of unwed teenaged mothers. Gradually, as the lives of the children mentioned above become intertwined in her own, it all begins to take its

toll on Dinah. She’s been seeing the problems and trying to ignore them, but she realizes it’s as impossible to hide from the hard realities of the world as it would be to shield her child from them. She can either worry and complain or she can do something to make things better for her own child.

She ultimately realizes she has no real choice in the matter.

Barry McGovern will finally be unable to tolerate the abuse at home and start drifting towards drugs to find release from his pain, his source on the streets being Tony Hernandez. Tony will himself become involved with those selling the deadly designer drug killing kids. Unwed mother Lucy Wilson will first enter Dinah’s life when she comes into the flower shop seeking some part-time work. Dinah has no job for her, and Will later come into contact with the girl when desperation forces her onto the streets and into prostitution to keep from losing her home.

We will also establish Black Canary’s antagonist, the people behind the synthesizing and sale of the deadly designer drug: Winston McGovern, who has for years been using his pharmaceutical company as a cover for involvement in the illegal trade. McGovern is allied with organized crirne and, despite intense police pressure on their newest concern, is determined to keep his business afloat, we also see that his cruelty extends beyond the abuse of his children and his involvement in the drug trade into the regular habit of sado-masochistic relationships with hookers

Dinah has become obsessed with everything she’s seen in the course of the first book. When a victim of the designer drug dies in her arms on the streets (her being on the scene a random incident, an indication of the epidemic proportion of this problem), she realizes she can no longer stand back and do nothing. Children are suffering and dying all around her and if she doesn’t do something to solve the problem, then how can she ever hope to have her own child be safe?

Flash Comics #92 (February 1948), first appearance of Black Canary by Carmine Infantino.


Dinah manages to convince herself that her involvement will extend only so far as the gathering of information that the police can use to bust the drug ring, but as she begins to dig into things, that will prove to be an impossible promise to keep. She could back off and leave these matters to the authorities, but their hands are tied by laws and procedures. Hers aren’t.

While Black Canary delves deeper and deeper into the chain of command of the designer drug ring, she starts to come in contact with the lives of the kids introduced in the first book, making their problems her problems.

She tries to intercede with the welfare authorities on behalf of Lucy Wilson, only to learn that the system is far too overloaded, understaffed, and underfinanced to be able to accomplish a fraction of what those who work in it wish it could. As a result, Lucy finds herself forced to take to the streets in order for her and her baby to survive.

Dinah meets Tony Hernandez in her quest to find a lead to the head of the drug ring, finding him hardened to the life he lives and to the damage he’s doing to others by plying his trade The people on the streets are the closest thing Tony’s had to a family and he’s not about to turn on them.

She comes across the abused Barry McGovern after he’s run away from home and attempts to have the juvenile authorities, or the police protect him but finds that the youngster is too scared of his father to admit he and his sister are regularly beaten. Without the child’s cooperation, there’s little the authorities can do to help him. He’s returned to his family, where his suffering at the hands of his abusive father increases because of the “trouble” the boy caused for McGovern. Barry finally succumbs to the lure of drugs to deaden his pain.

Black Canary continues her efforts on all fronts. These things begin to haunt her while she’s awake, creeping into her dreams, becoming an obsession almost as though she believes the responsibility for all the world’s suffering children rests on her shoulders.

McGovern and the drug mng respond to her activities against them, meeting her efforts with an equally intense counter-offensive. Black Canary is marked by them for death. McGovern takes her involvement all the more personally because of her sticking her nose into his private life, attempting to bring the authorities into his relationship with his son (without knowing of his connection to the drug ring.

Dinah’s crusade has become a deeply personal vendetta on the part of both parties!

Everything starts to come together. Black Canary’s efforts against the drug ring are having an effect, creating too much pressure for them to continue operating as they’ve been doing. Because of her, they have to abandon their current manufacturing and distribution system and reorganize. In order to protect themselves, they start to wipe anything and anybody who could lead back to them. Street dealers and distributors are being killed, manufacturing sites destroyed or abandoned.

And Black Canary is made a prime target for liquidation as her efforts have brought her too close to them to allow her to live.

Adventure Comics #418 (April 1972), Black Canary by Denny O’Neil and Alex Toth.


Tony Hernandez escapes being killed and goes into hiding, bitter about how his “family” turned against him.

Barry McGovern overhears his father and associates and finds out what his father is really into. Once again, he runs away from home, linking up with Hernandez, his drug source, who still has a supply of the deadly designer drug.

The senior McGovern becomes a customer of Lucy Wilsons, who, as per his habit, he badly beats at his home.

Black Canary finds Barry McGovern after he’s become the latest victim of the designer drug sold by his father. Before succumbing to the deadly drug, Barry had confided in Tony about his father. Tony leaves him to seek out the man he felt betrayed him and gain his vengeance. Even a 14-year old has easy access to guns on the street.

Black Canary races to head off Tony at McGovern’s home. She arrives as Tony is prepared to kill McGovern. In stopping Tony, McGovern is able to raise the alarm and bring his own people down on Canary’s head. To save Tony, she lets herself be captured.

McGovern wants her for himself, to torture a bit before he kills her, his full masochistic tendencies unleashed. Black Canary’s been there before, a victim of torture. only now it’s not just her who’s at risk but her unborn child as well.

McGovern is unmoved by this…and the revelation by Canary that his own son has become a victim of the drugs he peddles only serves to increase his rage. McGovern thinks the boy is weak and is ashamed of him, he himself was beaten regularly by his father and it made him strong. What happened to Barry was everybody’s fault except McGovern’s, and he feels Black Canary especially responsible for interfering with his business and making it possible for Barry to learn the truth

But, like Tony, the children are fighting back and that includes Lucy Wilson. She was forgotten by McGovern in the face of Black Canary’s arrival, but she hasn’t forgotten him. Her intervention saves Black Canary from McGovern’s torture and allows her to get free. Lucy is prepared to kill McGovern, but once again Canary saves his life and, finally, takes out the rest of the gang.

In the aftermath, Barry is left comatose from the designer drug, a victim of his father’s brutality. Tony disappeared after Canary stopped him from killing McGovern, probably back out on the streets and Lord only knows what will become of him. The only “survivor” of this whole thing is Lucy Wilson, who Dinah was able to find a job for to support herself and her child.

Dinah still has fears about motherhood and the world that awaits her unborn child, but she’s learned that she can’t allow that to emotionally cripple her. If nothing else, she’s learned that the way to create a better future for her child is by being a loving, caring, nurturing parent.

Just as a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, the creation of a better future for all children begin with the raising of a one healthy, whole child at a time to make that future possible.

The end

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1 Comment on The Lost Story of Black Canary and “The Children’s Crusade”

  1. Martin Gray says:

    I wonder if the editors feared it would be too similar in tone to Mindy Newell and Gray Morrow’s excellent, but likely very niche, Lois Lane micro-series. Or maybe it sounded like Dinah lacked her usual spark.

    Whatever the case, cheers for sharing this.

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