Joanna "Jo" de la Vega is a legal aid attorney at Wethersby & Stone LLP. She is the daughter of an unnamed woman, the sister of the late Danny de la Vega, and the best friend/former co-worker of the late Laurel Lance at CNRI. Joanna is also a supporter of Oliver Queen/Green Arrow.
At some point in law school, Joanna met and befriended Laurel Lance. After graduation, the two of them went on to work together at City Necessary Resources Initiative (CNRI), a legal aid office in The Glades.
Working at CNRI
At CNRI, Joanna was discussing the firm's case against Adam Hunt with Laurel, warning her about their odds, when a breaking news report about Oliver Queen being found was broadcasted. It also mentioned Sara Lance's supposed fate, which caused Laurel to angrily turn off the TV, leaving Joanna concerned for her friend. The next day, Joanna informed Laurel that Hunt's lawyers arranged for them to appear in front of Judge Grell, who was "in [Hunt's] back pocket", though Laurel remained optimistic. After The Hood distributed the money Hunt stole back to its owners, Joanna and Laurel were ecstatic, with Joanna proudly declaring the unknown individual to be Starling City's "guardian angel". She then told Laurel that Tommy Merlyn arrived to see her.
Joanna helped Laurel with her case against Martin Somers on behalf of Emily Nocenti, who was suing the businessman over the murder of her father, Victor Nocenti. At the courthouse, the trio had an awkward encounter with Tommy and Oliver, which Joanna unsuccessfully tried to defuse. They then attended the hearing against Somers. The next day at CNRI, Joanna and Laurel counseled Emily on the potential backlash they might face from Somers at the trial. Laurel's father, Detective Quentin Lance, then arrived to put them under police protection until the situation with Somers and the Triad calmed down. Joanna took Emily out for coffee to continue their discussion while Laurel and Quentin conversed. Later, after the Hood forced Somers to confess to ordering Victor's murder, Joanna, Laurel, and Emily watched from CNRI as the news reported his arrest. Joanna happily informed Emily that while they could continue pursuing her civil suit, Somers would now be definitively prosecuted by the district attorney for all his crimes.
At CNRI, Joanna came to ask Laurel for the deposition on the Jurgens case, only to catch the latter reading an article on Oliver, much to her exasperation. Pointing out how their relationship imploded, Joanna urged Laurel to move on from the past and decided they should go out tonight to party and loosen up. That night, Joanna and Laurel attended the grand opening of Max Fuller's club, Poison. Joanna danced and enjoyed herself while her friend watched in amusement.
When Laurel declined an offer to grab a drink after work, Joanna joked that her friend would have a better chance of getting a date if she went out more. Later, Joanna was skeptical of Laurel trying to get Peter Declan out of his life sentence at Iron Heights after being framed for his wife's murder and wondered why the case caught her interest. Laurel revealed she was working with the vigilante, much to Joanna's shock. She expressed wariness over The Hood's methods, but Laurel assured Joanna he wouldn't hurt her.
After CNRI's largest donor, Stagg Industries, pulled out, Joanna and Laurel were worried about how much longer the office could keep their doors open. The next day when Tommy detailed to Joanna his plan of Merlyn Global Group sponsoring a benefit for CNRI, she convinced a suspicious Laurel to take up Tommy's offer, pointing out that they needed the money. At the benefit, which was a success, Joanna and Laurel happily thanked Tommy for his help. Laurel admitted Joanna was right, much to the latter's satisfaction.
Tragedy, sabbatical, and return
In January 2013, Joanna learned from Quentin and Fire Chief Raynes that her brother, Danny, was killed on duty while putting out a fire, much to her devastation. Calling in a favor from the clerk at the SCPD coronary office, Joanna obtained a copy of her brother's incident report. During her investigation, she realized that Danny's turnout suit could withstand temperatures up to 500 °F but the fire he was putting out didn't exceed 250 °F. Upon finding out that Danny's turnout was doused in turpentine, which wasn't present in the factory, Joanna believed her brother had been murdered and brought her suspicions to Laurel, requesting that she investigate this.
During her investigation, Laurel urged Joanna to take some time off to properly grieve over her brother's death. However, Joanna initially refused, citing how Laurel buried herself in her studies to cope with Sara's death.
After the death of Garfield Lynns, revealed to have been Danny's killer, Joanna took a sabbatical from work and moved back in with her mother for the time being. While clearing out her desk at CNRI, Joanna asked Laurel to find a way to give Danny's fire badge to the Hood as thanks for solving his murder, expressing once more how the vigilante was a guardian angel. Laurel promised to do so and the two hugged goodbye.
Several months later in May, Joanna returned to work. That week on May 15, she, Laurel, and everyone else at CNRI witnessed Moira Queen's announcement of the Undertaking. During the evacuation of The Glades, Joanna and her colleagues worked to salvage all of their case files and evidences for their clients. When the earthquake started, Joanna managed to escape CNRI while Laurel was trapped inside. After Tommy died saving Laurel from the collapsing building, Joanna, Quentin, and Laurel sadly watched the destruction.
Joanna presumably attended Tommy's funeral.
Helping a friend
At some point after the Undertaking, Joanna became a legal aid attorney at a corporate law firm, Wethersby & Stone LLP.
In early 2014 after Laurel was fired from the DA's office, Joanna arranged for her to get a job interview at Wethersby & Stone. However, upon submitting Laurel's résumé, Joanna was informed by one of her firm's partners that the Bar Association's disciplinary committee was going to open proceedings regarding Laurel's continued eligibility as an attorney in light of her substance abuse. Joanna explained the situation to Laurel, revealing that Wethersby & Stone won't hire her due to this, and offered to help her friend fight the potential disbarment.
It can be assumed that Joanna attended Laurel's funeral, where the latter's identity as Black Canary was revealed.
Joanna is described as "more cynical" and "less idealistic" than Laurel Lance. She is a savvy, keen, hardworking attorney who strives to help the less fortunate through the legal system at CNRI, yet is all too aware of the reality that the law cannot always win against the corruption in Star City. As a result, Joanna is supportive of the Hood's vigilantism, acknowledging him as the city's "guardian angel". Stemming from this, she also convinced Laurel to allow Tommy Merlyn to throw a fundraiser for CNRI.
Joanna is outgoing and friendly with a blunt and sassy sense of humor. Despite her cynicism, she is fearless, determined, and protective of her clients when it comes to her work as an attorney.
Joanna shared a close, trusting friendship with Laurel, often encouraging the latter to have a life outside of being an attorney; thus, she was supportive of Laurel's blossoming relationship with Tommy. Joanna was the first person whom Laurel confided in about her partnership with the Hood, which the former agreed to keep a secret. Joanna even trusted Laurel to help solve her brother, Danny de la Vega's, murder and tried to help her friend get back on her feet following the latter's termination from the district attorney's office.
- High-level intellect/Master lawyer: As a successful legal aid attorney in both criminal justice and corporate law, Joanna proved to be a capable lawyer, having successfully prosecuted a number of criminals and conducted high-profile trials.
- Network: As a legal aid attorney at CNRI and then Wethersby & Stone LLP, Joanna has multiple contacts; she once used a favor from the SCPD coronary office to gain access to her brother's incident report.
Behind the scenes
- In the DC comics, Joanna Tanner, later known as Joanna Pierce, was Black Lightning's niece and an attorney who befriended Oliver Queen whilst investigating Martin Somers until her death at the hands of Constantine Drakon. Joanna Tanner debuted in Green Arrow #26 (July, 2003)
- In , Joanna Tanner was renamed to Joanna de la Vega, with no relation to Black Lightning. However, her role in the show is largely the same, even being involved in stopping Martin Somers, something which occurred in Green Arrow #31 (December, 2003), though her comic counterpart was killed in the process.