Friday, January 31, 2014

1989 Mayfair Games DC Heroes Black Canary Character Card

Years ago, my best friends Shag Eisenstein from Firestorm Fan, Anj from Comic Box Commentary, and Frank from... every other blog I follow celebrated Mayfairstivus, a nine-day celebration of Mayfair Games' DC Heroes roleplaying game.

I won't go into the mechanics of the game, because I've never played it; nor will I describe how betrayed I felt that none of my best friends in the DC blogosphere included me in this holiday event, despite the fact that I didn't know them at the time and I wouldn't debut Flowers & Fishnets for almost two years.

But Frank was cool enough to send me scans of Black Canary's card for the game, so all is pretty much forgiven (for now).  Not having the original game material or any sourcebooks, I'll focus on the art for her card and what I can discern of her skills and attributes based on how the other characters were showcased during Mayfairstivus.


Woo, sorry...  That's her card art.  As you can see from this picture, Dinah's fingers met with an unfortunate incident involving the kind of heavy machinery you find at a rock quarry.  I have no idea what's going on with her breasts; the left one is drooping lower, suggesting she's leaning forward to the left and throwing that shoulder down.  But that doesn't seem possible.  Also, check out the excess jacket fabric under her right arm.  Looks like she's wearing a cape with sleeves.

This might not be the worst card art from the game... Then again it might be.

Okay, let's see if she fares any better in tech specs on the reverse side of the card.

For the purpose of her stats, the Canary is treated as a non-meta human.  Characters like Batman and Bronze Tiger have Dexterity scores of 10, the highest possible for normal human hand-to-hand combatants.  Canary's Dexterity of 7 seems low to me now, but it makes a little more sense back in '89 before her full training history was established.  Strength of 4 and Body of 5 seem low, but those are actually pretty solid for a human.  Batman's Strength and Body are each only one rank higher than Canary's.  For other comparison, Catwoman's Strength and Body are identical to Canary's and the Huntress' are one rank lower.

Intelligence of 6, Will of 5 and Mind of 5 seem about right if we're being honest.  Those are comparable to the Huntress' ranks, and roughly half of what Batman has.  Prior to the game's publication in 1989, Dinah was never thought of as a brainy character.  Her husband Larry worked as a P.I., but she mostly served in the punchy/kicky capacity, and her physical as well as mental conditioning wouldn't be developed until the Birds of Prey era.  Also, have you read her Golden Age adventures?  Every f***ing issue she got pistol-whipped and knocked unconscious.  That's gotta give you brain damage after the second time.  (Actually, I just realized this card is specific to Dinah Laurel Lance... Well, she can't be very smart and still be in love with Ollie!)

Influence of 6 seems pretty baseline for Justice League members who don't have a reputation for terrifying criminals or standing for Truth, Justice and the American Way.  Firestorm, Elongated-Man and Vixen, for example, all have similar Influence scores.  I don't know how the game applied Aura and Spirit scores, so I can't comment on them.

Canary has one power, describe here for the purposes of game symmetry as Sonic Beam, with a score of 8.  That's pretty high, such as it is.  Justice League International member Fire, for example, has a Flame Projection score of 8, and flame projection is like her whole thing!  For skills, Dinah has Acrobatics of 6 and Martial Artist of 8.  I like to think the MA score would have been bumped up at least to nine after writers established she could hold her own against Lady Shiva, but that's still good for the time.

Her motivation is Seeking Justice which seems pretty straightforward.  Her origin might not be as archetypal as Batman's, but what writers like Gerry Conway and Alan Brennert did when they got to retell her story was firmly establish that Dinah wanted to serve--she wanted to be part of something larger than herself, something dedicated to protecting people and making the world better.

Thanks again to Frank and everyone else who participated in Mayfairstivus for posting the cards and giving me references to compare against Black Canary's.  For a list of links to other character cards, check out the DC Bloodlines blog.

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