DAZZLING DC LADIES MONTH: Zinda Blake, aka Lady Blackhawk
First appeared:Blackhawk #133, February 1959
Who is she? Determined to become the first female member of the famed Blackhawk Squadron, Zinda Blake trained as a pilot, mastering a wide range of aircraft and becoming an expert in various forms of hand-to-hand combat and weaponry. From the very beginning, she was met with resistance: the Blackhawks weren’t keen on allowing a woman into their boys’ club, even if on their first meeting that woman had saved one of their teammates from certain death. Undeterred, Zinda continued to join them on their adventures, eventually earning honorary membership after saving the entire team from the Scavenger.
Then there was this thing where Killer Shark kidnapped and brainwashed her into becoming his evil girlfriend, Queen Killer Shark, but we’re going to gloss over that, because it’s gross.
So! Zero Hour happened, and Zinda found herself flung a good half-century or so into the present day, in a future where most of her friends were either dead or in nursing homes, and technology had advanced so far that she presumably needed to learn to fly all over again. She made the best of it, working in Guy Gardner’s bar and frequently aiding him and his team in fighting super villains.
Eventually, she was recruited by Oracle as the Birds of Prey’s new pilot. She quickly bonded with the other women on the team, and her aviation and combat skills proved invaluable.
What can she do? Zinda’s an ace pilot, an expert in aerial combat, and a skilled marksman, with expertise in a range of weaponry and hand-to-hand combat. She can also order beer in thirty languages and drink most people under the table.
“Do what you know is best. Speak strongly and your words can level the mightiest of mountains.” (New Teen Titans Vol. 1 #27)
Given Name: Rachel Roth (Taken to honor her mother Angela Roth, a.k.a. Arella)
Aliases: Raven, Pride
Eye/Hair color: Indigo/Black
Background Information: Raven was born from the forced union Between Angela Roth (Arella) and the demon lord Trigon the Terrible. Arella had suffered much in her home, struggling through emotional, physical, and verbal abuse. So when she fled from her home, she was under the impression that there was no such thing as trust or love. And when she stumbled on a group that seemed willing to offer her this love that she’d been neglected of her entire life, she happily accepted. Even more so, when it was explained to her that she was to be serving as the esteemed bride for their true leader. Decieved by an illusion that Trigon had cast over himself, Arella offered herself to him. And when she discovered her lover’s true form, she turned in fear. But it was too late. She fled again, this time finding refuge with another group, the pacifistic and spiritual monks of Azarath. It was here, in their protection, that Arella gave birth to Raven, the half-demon daughter of Trigon and the child of prophecy.
She grew up with these calm and kind people, studying meditation and other cathartic coping methods under the wise Lady Azar. She was taught to control her emotions at a very young age after discovering that it was the emotional passions within her that fueled the demonic side of her. Knowing that she was born of cursed blood, Raven had grown through her entire life with the mentality that she was not to be trusted, not even by herself.
Eventually, Raven left Azarath, and traveled to Earth.
When she ultimately learned of her father’s plan to enter into the dimension that Raven had come to call home and lay waste to all that inhabited it, she sought out help from the highest ranked meta-humans on Earth. But the Justice League declined any form of help based on Zatanna’s guidance. She’d sensed Raven’s demonic lineage, and advised that it would be unwise to allow someone with the potential for such corruption into their ranks. Raven then turned to the younger heroes that had studied under them and sought to re-form the Teen Titans. She scoured the world and used her powers of mental projection to bring the Titans together with visions and subtle suggestions.
Some members were harder to convince, and Raven took to influencing Kid Flash (Wally West) by casting a spell over him to make him believe that he was infatuated with her. While the method worked, eventually it became clear that Wally’s emotions weren’t his own, and he suffered much internal conflict.
Raven’s father was eventually pushed back enough to be sealed away, but his power and his influence still dwelled deep within Raven, leaving her to continue her daily routines and suppressing her emotions.
Some time later, Trigon escaped his prison again, and sought out his Daughter again. He took control of her to continue his reign of torment. During this time, Raven’s original home on Azarath was wiped out completely. With much trouble, the Titans had eventually come back together even stronger than before, and with the help and guidance of Raven’s mother, put an end to Trigon’s control over Raven by ending her own life. By doing so, her spirit was released and purified of the control of her father, and her body was able to be used as a conduit for the ancient souls of Azarath to kill Trigon.
As her soul wandered the earth, it was ultimately captured and harnessed by Brother Blood. She was given a new body, and was urged to wed the new Brother Blood in order to fulfill a dark prophecy that would bring forth the end of the world. Bus before the ceremony could be completed, both she and Nightwing rescued by the Titans.
Not long after, the whole team was captured by the Wildebeest Society. It was discovered that their former teammate Jericho (Joey Wilson) was being controlled by the lost souls of Azarath, aiming to use the Titans as host bodies for the individual souls. But ultimately, Jericho was stopped and killed by his own father, Deathstroke the Terminator (Slade Wilson). [AN: OH GOD THE FEELS FOR SLADE AND JOEY RIGHT NOW, I CRIED FOR A WEEK WHEN I READ THIS ARC]
During the Infinite Crisis arc, Raven’s powers were spiraling out of control thanks to the influence of Spectre and her destruction of magic. But still she persevered and continued to assist her teammates in any way that she could. It was Raven who ultimately evacuated Bludhaven before the destruction got any worse. It was also Raven who took on the trying task of battling and subduing Superboy-Prime, no easy feat by far. But after these events, she ended up quitting the Titans after they were disbanded by herself and Beast Boy. However, she was not gone from the world. She then spent the next year searching the world for the remaining soul of the fallen Titan Jericho in an attempt to resurrect him. Her efforts succeeded, and Jericho was given a new life in a new body.
Daughter of the Demon: Day to day life can never be easy when there is a permanent war raging in your psyche between the good you so wish to exemplify and the evil that courses through your very soul. So it’s only expected that Raven would have several slip-ups, even some that weren’t caused by her own lack of strength. When she does let the evil overtake her, the side effects can be quite gruesome. For a while, she’d attempted to hide her initial transformation from her teammates by retreating back into the shadows and hooded mystery that had just started to come down after earning their trust. Her face was almost sickly, sunken and much more dramatic now. Her hair line was receding, to the point of her being almost unrecognizable. The most notable physical changes that Raven undergoes when her demonic blood overtakes her are the appearance of another set of eyes higher up on her forehead, the change in skin-tone from a pale color to a deep, bright red like her father’s, and occasionally the appearance of pointed ears. Personality wise, Raven’s usually compassionate and understanding demeanor vanishes, replaced with a cocky and garish nature that can be seen as a complete inversion of the sweet Titan. She loses all care and compassion for her friends and teammates, and will stop at nothing to get what she or her father desires. (Ex: Crashing Dick and Kori’s wedding and attempting to feed a demon seed of Trigon into Kori’s soul.) That is, until she manages to take control back from the demon within. (Ex: The demon seed wasn’t a demon seed. It was Raven’s pure soul self.)
Angel of Azarath: Conversely, she is almost saintly in times of peace. Raven is very insightful, and undoubtedly the most spiritual member of the team. She attempts to see the good in everyone, and has a deeply rooted conscience and connection to her mentor Lady Azar that guides her through so much of her daily life. Even when she makes choices that are less than savory in the eyes of most, Raven does so with the belief that she is doing what is deemed right and acceptable. But when she realizes the error of her way, she will go to hell and back again to right the wrongs she has done. (Ex: Reincarnating Jericho in a new body to bring the Titans back together.) She loves with her whole self, and cares deeply for the familial bonds that she’s strengthened with her teammates. Her purest soul self is ethereal, glowing in a golden light, and able to right all of the wrongs done by her demon form and her father.
[AN: There is so much more to her story and her character, but I’m starting to run out of time, and I don’t want to carry on for too much longer. So I’m going to end this here. Just know that Raven has one of my favorite backstories in the entirety of the DCU, and that she is so much more complex than people give her credit for. I encourage you to pick up the older Titans comics; read them, love them, and love her the way I love her.]
Skills/Abilities: Empathy, Emotion Negation, Healing abilities (numbs pain, speeds up healing for minor injuries), Telekinesis, Astral projection (including her soul self), Teleportation (Flight in some later forms), Illusion projection, Precognition (Visions and dreams), Umbrakinesis (Cartoon). She is also highly intelligent, having been raised and taught by the Monks of Azarath to appreciate learning and use her thirst for knowledge as a secure and safe way to sate her demonic urge for power, as knowledge is a great form of power in most societies.
Equipment: Her Chakra (the red stone on her forehead) is a spiritual device that helps her keep control over her demonic urges.
First Appearance: DC Comics Presents Vol. 1 #26 (1980) Summary of first appearance: “Where Nightmares Begin!” Although not the clear main focus of the story, the events taking place would not have been possible without Raven. Robin is seen outside the S.T.A.R. Labs, answering a distress call for help regarding terrorists overtaking the labs. Before he is able to take action, the young hero is transported to a foreign environment, much to his confusion. It is here that we see one of the first appearances of Raven, as Wonder Girl explains to Robin that the team before him is the ‘New’ incarnation of his old team. Robin leads the team through the driving out of an alien life form that is attempting to convert all of Earth’s oxygen into methane gas. These actions are revealed to be a vision caused by Raven, showing Robin of the future team of Teen Titans that must be gathered.
Brave and the Bold Vol. 3 #18
New Teen Titans (All of them. Read every issue in every volume. Do it. Do it now.)
New Teen Titans (Collections) Vol. 2 #1 “Terror of Trigon” [Note: Includes Teen Titans Vol.3 # 29-33, Robin Vol. 4 # 146 &147, and Infinite Crisis #6 & 7]
Deathstroke the Terminator Vol. 1 #1 (1991) [Flashback only, but it’s still a really good issue to read]
Teen Titans (Collections) Vol. 3 #6 “Life and Death” (2006) [Note: Includes Teen Titans Vol.3 # 29-33, Robin Vol. 4 # 146 &147, and Infinite Crisis #6 & 7]
Teen Titans (Collections) Vol. 3 #4 “The Future is Now” (2005) [Note: Includes Teen Titans/Legion Special, and Teen Titans Vol.3 # 16-23]
Titans Vol. 2 #3-6 (YOU ALSO MEET THE SONS OF TRIGON, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS ARC)