Saturday, April 2, 2016

The origins of #TheCardinal...amalgam of Black Widow/Black Canary/ & Robin


     Dinah Romanova was one of the KGB's most elite agents.  Recruited at a young age; she quickly and aptly became a skillful saboteur and merciless assassin after being trained by the U.S.S.R's infamous Red Legion.  She was their deadliest weapon, mastering both the covert and direct invasion, earning her a flawless record of bloody accomplishment.  That was until an unsuccessful run in with the equally ruthless League of the Chaste and their brutal leader Stick.  

     Stick and his deadly minions wiped out Dinah's assault entire team but left her alive.  Seeing a spark of good within her weary, almost vacant eyes, he demonstrated an unprecedented grace.  Stick chose to take this indoctrinated warrior under his wing and train her to be part of his own League.  At the same time, another new recruit, an adroit modern day archer, Oliver Barton, took a shine to this often conflicted and violent newcomer. 

     Dinah soon learned every tactic Stick had to offer, mastering every form of martial artistry both known and still to be discovered by Western civilization.  Her education accomplished alarmingly early; Stick decided to pair her with a former pupil who could continue to focus her abilities while ratifying her tortuous past. 

     He brought her to America to team up with the recently resurrected #DarkAvenger, who had been enlisted by the newly formed #LeagueofAvengers.  As the group evolved, Dinah and Bruce built a strong bond as partners.  She took on the mantle of #TheCardinal, her favorite bird, and for her, a magnificent representation of both fierceness and beauty. 

     It was in their first battle together that Dinah accidentally accessed a latent Meta Human power unknowingly inherited from her mother, Laurel.   In the heat of combat, after receiving an agonizing wound, she cried out, sending out a potent sonic assault that crippled and even killed some of her assailants.  This power would later come to be known as the Cardinal's Cry, and as time progressed, the #DarkAvenger assisted her in honing this inexplicable weapon. 

     #TheCardinal is a master of all melee weapons but prefers pole style arms and nunchaku, as they offer the most range of these styles of weapons and deliver the harshest pummeling; at least in her mind.  She only utilizes her Cardinal Cry in the direst situations, when no other option is available, as she feels like it is a cheat in battle; much to the chagrin of her teammates who have been given special auricular protection against it, provided by Jordan Industries.  Only the #DarkAvenger seems to be mysteriously immune to the caustic shriek. 

     Dinah has never rectified her darker side and struggles with it on a daily basis.  After several years as a valued associate of the #LeagueofAvengers, she was ambushed by the Laughing Skull's goons and taken prisoner.  The #DarkAvenger frantically sought her out as she was the only family he had left.   Knowing the extent of the care and compassion the #DarkAvenger had for his comrade, the Skull murdered Dinah by beating her to death with the simplest device he could find, a crowbar.   It was a death that nearly destroyed Bruce. 

      After her body had been recovered and buried, Bruce became far more violent and vindictive.  Donning the moniker and identity of the #DarkPunisher for a time; he hunted and eviscerated the Laughing Skull's organization and many of his Legion of Hydra cohorts.  It was only after Oliver Barton intervened, that Bruce's quest for revenge was finally ended. 

   But, unbeknownst to the beleaguered vigilante, Dinah's body was stolen by Stick, who inexplicably, revived her corpse in the mysterious Lazarus Pit.  But the Dinah that returned to the living brought with her all of the torment of her past and very little of the humanity she had worked so hard to earn.   Blaming her former friend and father figure for his inability to rescue her and destroy the Skull she changed her entire identity and took up the mantle of the #CrimsonCowl. 

   For nearly a year, she became an unstoppable super villain using her skills and tactics to assist her former Red Legion chums in battling the #DarkAvenger and his #LeagueofAvengers.  Then later, would go solo as a careless vigilante exacting her own brand of justice on those she carefully selected.  It was only after a seemingly endless battle with her old benefactor, Bruce that she suffered a complete breakdown and was defeated. 

      Bruce brought her back to his secret bunker deep beneath his family's homestead, in an attempt to reform his fallen friend.  A place she had once coined as his Bat Cave, a designation he always detested.   There, he was able to nurse her back to health, mind, soul, and body.  She returned to service under new moniker #TheRaven with the secret identity of Natasha Lance, to escape any penalty for her past transgressions. 

      She served with the same bravery and aptitude as before but with a fragile reconciliation between the rift of killing and mercy.  But it would be short-lived as a second catastrophic tragedy forced her to return to her brutal ways as the #CrimsonCowl.  This time as a deeply conflicted anti-hero who worked both against and alongside the #LeagueofAvengers depending on whether their methods and effectiveness met with hers. 

   The only hope of a return to the woman she once was, is barely conceivable; requiring a restoration that is seemingly impossible.  Even her best friend Oliver has not been able to reach her and fears her soul may be lost forever.      

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