Justice Society of America: 1981: Angel, Chapter 1: The New Black Canary

by Libbylawrence

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As a true southern belle, Miss Angelique O’Day was proud of the stately grandeur of the Old South. A Virginian, the young beauty had grown up with the legends of Colonial heroes like Henry, Washington, Jefferson, and others, as well as the darker stains of slavery and snobbish aristocracy. These events from history were still vibrant in the minds of the Old Dominion.

Angel, or so she was called, was amazed at Gotham City. The city was full of delights and perils so unknown to her childhood home. As a sheltered “mama’s girl,” she had traveled little. Her dad had worked all his life in Gotham, or at least he had for all of Angel’s young life. But since her parents had divorced when she was a baby, she did not remember her days as an infant in the city of Batman and Green Lantern.

Wiping a tear from one of her crystal blue eyes, Angel brushed back her long, platinum-blonde hair that fell over her very shapely shoulders. In her micro miniskirt and high heels, Angel looked more like a 1967 version of a “fine young bird” than a modern woman. She had always loved ’60s fashions, though she had only found some from her mom’s closet or thrift shops.

She whistled a song as she walked, ignoring the wolf-calls that echoed out as the gorgeous young woman made her way down Wayne Boulevard. Bruce Wayne had been the city’s wealthiest and most civic-minded citizen, and he had even been police commissioner in the 1970s. Angel wondered if her dad, a police officer who became a private investigator, had known the famous man.

Her dad had died only a few weeks ago, and Angel was in Gotham to collect a few of his things for mementos; he had not left many assets. She walked up the stairs to his old office with her high heels clicking, opened the door, and read the lettering, which read Daniel O’Day — Private Investigations.

The office was clean. Dad was like that, she remembered, from the regular times he had visited her in Virginia. Blowing her button-like nose into a handkerchief, she opened the desk. A photo of her as “Miss Roanoke” was on display. Her other pageant wins were also neatly memorialized in a scrapbook in the desk.

One of Angel’s high heels suddenly snapped. “Gosh!” she muttered. This was the strongest oath Angel used. Bending down to reattach it if possible, she found a hidden catch. It was covered with a film of dust; no one had used it for years, not even her dad. He had sort of inherited the office when another private investigator pal of his had died, and his wife had apparently moved away without leaving any word with anyone.

How odd, thought the lovely blonde girl. She pried open the drawer and found a hidden second level to the desk. In this hollow space she found a diary and a colorful costume. It was dark blue and black with high-cut fishnets and boots. “The Black Canary!” she gasped. Angel had heard of the JSAer, who had vanished years ago. Angel loved a mystery; she quickly read the diary, which confirmed her guesses.

Private investigator Larry Lance and his wife, Dinah Drake Lance, had owned this office when it had been the Larry Lance Detective Agency before her dad leased it. After Larry died, Dinah just vanished. The last diary entry referred to a JSA meeting. It must have been just before Larry’s death. (*) Dinah Drake Lance had, in fact, been the blonde bombshell herself. The costume appealed to Angel’s fashion-sense, so on a whim she tried it on. It fit very well.

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Star Light, Star Bright, Death Star I See Tonight,” Justice League of America #73 (August, 1969) and “Where Death Fears to Tread,” Justice League of America #74 (September, 1969).]

Angel looked at her reflection in the small handheld mirror from her purse. She made a very striking Black Canary. She didn’t really look like the real one, of course, but she certainly did make a nice replacement.

A noise alerted her, and she looked out of the window into the alley behind the building. A mugging appeared to be in progress. That wasn’t so odd for Gotham.

Suddenly Angel had a crazy idea. She had studied gymnastics before, so maybe, she figured, she could help — as a heroine. Dropping down to the street from the window, she landed nimbly on her heels after performing a quick midair spin. “Leave the woman alone!” she yelled at two startled hoods. “You should be ashamed of yourself!”

They snarled and came for her, while letting the other victim loose to flee away madly. Angel slapped the first thug, and he grabbed her, even as she kicked him solidly in the leg. He stumbled, and she pushed him into his friend. They got up and came for her again, so she landed a punch that did, in fact, stun the taller mugger. However, the second one embraced her in a tight hold. She kicked and head-butted him, but could not escape his burly grip.

Then, out of the shadows came a huge, inhuman form. An ape in clothes bounded forward and pounded the thug to his knees, while easily pulling Angel free. She gasped at first, then smiled in disbelief when he extended one large hand and spoke. “Don’t be afraid. I won’t hurt you. That was some fight you put up.”

“You talk?” asked a dazed Angel.

“Sure. I am no ordinary simian. I am the product of advanced science.”

“You mean… some experiment?” asked the girl.

“Sure! What, did you think that I came from some city of the apes? That’s movie stuff,” replied the ape.

“I’m Angelique O’Day,” she said. “Angel.”

“You look like one. I’m… Sam. Call me Sam,” he muttered thoughtfully.

As she led him to her dad’s office, Angel continued to speak with the kindly seeming ape.

“You know, with some training and maybe some tricks I could show you, you could really become a new Black Canary!” said Sam. “Maybe even do… wonders.”

“Would you help me?” squealed Angel excitedly.

“Consider us partners!” replied the ape.


As the weeks passed, Angel O’Day mastered more tricks. The agile Sam moved into her dad’s office, while Angel got an apartment of her own in Gotham City. With a good deal of effort and some bruises, Angel slowly became a skilled fighter. The ape worked with her, rarely showing any temper at her errors. He was very smart, and soon made her more of a savvy fighter. He even trained the little blonde in martial arts.

Then he made his suggestion. “I think you should join the Justice Society. You are nearly ready. I also have another idea — if you are willing, would you allow me to do some… technical enhancement on you?”

Angel frowned. She liked the idea of joining the greatest heroes in the world, but this new idea took some thought. Still, she liked Sam and trusted him. “Let’s do it.”


Days later, she awoke from surgery in Sam’s own laboratory, which he had explained had belonged to the man who had made him what he was.

“Success, my Angel!” He gestured at the table of glasses. “Now scream!”

“OK,” she said. As he had described to her when he explained the precise modification of her vocal chords he had in mind, she focused on the table, and shrill sonic waves erupted. The table shattered.

Sam smiled and gave her a thumb’s-up sign. “Your canary cry works! They’ll be sure to take you now.”

Angel smiled demurely as she imagined a glorious future for herself.


Number 5 glanced warily at Strike Force members 11, 13, and 24. All seemed to be going all right. The bank clerks were cowering behind the counters, the few customers were fearfully still, and there was no sign of either police or super-heroes to stop this quick robbery.

“Hey, 5! Why’s the floor all green?” yelled 24.

Strike Force member 5 looked down to see that the ugly carpet of the Gotham Bank had indeed turned a shade of glowing green. It spread across the floor, and, to their horror, it enveloped their feet and locked them in place. As they muttered some curses and struggled futilely, the source of the energy appeared.

“Sorry, fellows, but you aren’t going anywhere in a hurry, are you?” said Green Lantern as he shed his energy light across the bank. Landing gently, he knocked out 24 with a well-practiced left. Before the hero could do more, 5 followed careful instructions from their mysterious boss. He whipped out a wooden club and backhanded the hero across his blond head with it. To 5’s pleasure, Green Lantern moaned and pitched forward.

As he did so, the energy flickered and vanished, freeing the other two Strike Force members. They surged forward and aimed blows with their own wooden truncheons at the Lantern.

Then the new Black Canary, alias Angel O’Day, raced in and delivered a kick that sent 5 spinning into a counter. “No withdrawals after three o’ clock!” she quipped.

The dynamic blonde ducked a punch and landed her own effective punch that knocked 11 cold. “Get her!” yelled a panting 5. She smiled and swung up on a counter. As they closed in on the blonde bombshell, she reemerged like lightning and decked 5 and 13 with two quick jabs.

Bending over the injured Green Lantern, she nursed his wound. “He needs help. I think he’s suffered a concussion,” yelled the Black Canary as police arrived. Green Lantern woozily thanked her as he was carried out.


Angel made her way back to Sam’s lab, where the ape smiled confidently. “I heard it all on the news. Nicely done, my Angel. One more triumph like that, and they’ll gladly embrace you as a JSA member.”

The new Black Canary tossed her blonde locks and smiled. “Do you really think I’ve got a chance?”

“More than a chance,” replied Sam. “It’s a certainty.”

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