Zatanna, the Mistress of Magic, finally has her own comic! Follow everyone’s favorite backwards-talking magician as she fights to protect San Francisco from its supernatural underbelly of crime. First on her list is the mystical crime boss, Brother Blood. Erom retfa eht pumj!
Written by Paul Dini
Pencils by Stephane Roux
Inks by Karl Story
Letters by Pat Brosseau
Colors by John Kalisz
Edited by Joey Cavalieri
Cover by Stephane Roux
Variant Cover by Brian Bolland
Published by DC Comics
Previously in Zatanna: Zatanna has always been a fan favorite character but not until now has she had her own comic series. While occasionally on the Justice League, Zatanna has always been more of a free spirit which has resulted in her appearing in quite a few of books. Her trademark top hat and fishnet stockings are only half of what make her such a fun character. The other half is her backwards spoken spells. Much like when Bizarro talks, it can sometimes take a moment to read what she’s saying. Some of her more famous moments can be read in the pages of Identity Crisis where she was responsible for wiping clean the minds of not only villains but Batman as well.
THE WORLD IS A STAGE
Our story opens with Zatanna chained to a post and gagged as Dr. Light and the Joker aim a drill right at her back. As the drill borrows through her body, her chains are broken and she disappears in a cloud of smoke as Joker and Dr. Light are tied up. The audience goes wild. Back stage, Zee lectures her assistant dressed as Dr. Light on being faster on his entrance when Detective Dale Colton asks for a minute of her time to help with a case. After Zatanna changes into more comfortable clothes, the two of them drive to a crime scene as Colton rehashes a bit of Zatanna’s history. They arrive at a club where several of its guests have been transformed and killed in various unnatural ways. After searching the mind of one of the survivors, Zee discovers that the man their looking for is the mystical crime boss Brother Night and a group of his friends. Together they setup a group of non-magical crime figure heads and butchered them in an attempt to take over both the magical and normal crime in San Fran. Zatanna reverts the bodies back into human form and changes into her “work” clothes before she vanishes to pay Brother Night a visit.
Zatanna appears in the middle of Brother Night’s magical night club as demons and witches of all sorts stop the festivities to watch the inevitable showdown. Zee is attacked by one person after another while she holds a conversation with Brother Night. First up was Nimue Ravensong who she takes care of without the use of magic. Next is the bug boy, Teddy whom she spins around right as he’s about to attack and misses her completely. A monster comes up behind Zatanna and she turns him into a rabbit as Brother Night pours her a drink. Reflected in the glass, Zatanna sees her final attacker approach and switches places with Nimue just in enough time to not be turned into a slug. Zatanna warns Brother Night to back off and play nice just as she drops the glass, causes it to explode and teleports away. Brother Night doesn’t take kindly to Zatanna’s threat and decides to sleep on it. In his dreams, Night makes contact with the nightmare imp, Fuseli, and seeks to make a deal that will surely cause Zee to lose sleep over.
TO BIG FOR HER BRITCHES?
Out of the gate, Zatanna’s first issue is really a pleasant read. While it’s not what I expected it to be when I first heard that she was going to get her own series, I find that it has its own character that definitely works for it. There’s something refreshing about a superhero that doesn’t have to worry about secret identities that makes her feel more intimidating. I wonder if that’s a curse in disguise though. From the very beginning we get the idea that Zee is the power in the land but it almost seems to be a bit over the top when she barges right into the bag guy’s lair, dispatches his bad guys and does so while not really paying attention or breaking a sweat. This is great for Zee but it makes our villain look like a bit of a push over. They even take it so far that by the end of the issue, Brother Night is asking for help from Fuseli. “A hero is only as good as their villain.” In this case, I don’t see Mr. Dini having enough threat to carry this story to a full arc.
SOMETHING YOU HAVEN’T SEEN BEFORE
Whenever Zatanna appeared in Justice League (both comic and cartoon), I would always get excited to see her in battle because of her very creative mind. She’s usually considered a tank on the roster because of her ability to turn the biggest thug into a soft white bunny. In this issue, it’s fun to see the other side of that coin. The club patrons were transformed into a frog who then croaked, a pig that got sliced up, burned by a fiery kiss, or eaten by bugs. The deaths in this title are sure to be as entertaining as Zatanna’s moves seem to be. Hopefully the writers don’t fall back on the same few spells and keep giving us creative scenes like these in every issue.
INTRODUCING THE VILLAIN
The first page shows both Dr. Light and the Joker. I didn’t believe for a second that the two of them teamed up to take Zatanna down. Mostly because, as I looked at the Joker, I noticed how much I thought that he didn’t look right. It was a nice nod to the events of Identity Crisis and her recent story in Detective Comics but the pairing of these two wasn’t fooling anyone I’m sure. As for her new rival Brother Night, I can’t help but feel that this is what you get when you mix the Godfather with the Joker. His pasty white skin, slicked back hair and over stretched smile tells me that he’s not only a murderer but a thief as well. The look works for what the story is telling but still you can’t help but have that nagging feeling in the back of your mind that you’ve seen this before.
IT’S REBRANDED SO WE NEED A SHINY NEW WRAPPER
I don’t care for Zatanna’s new look however. The addition of thigh high boots and a cape do more to cover a body that people love to look at than to help her heroic image. I’m not entirely sure if her outfit even looks right to begin with. A blue ribbon on her hat, a yellow vest and a black and red cape. I get the feeling like her designer couldn’t pick a color so he chose them all. She doesn’t match. Aside from that, the art is great in the comic. The early scenes of Zee in the turtleneck sweater make her look so adorable and sweet. Conversely, the gratuitous panel that Mr. Dini couldn’t refuse to put in the book of her undressing was sexy while not being overly sexual. I actually think the panel where her clothes were just starting to lift off her had more sex appeal than the scene where she was stark naked with well placed objects hovering around her. I do wonder however if it was really necessary to show Brother Night’s club as an S&M den. I’m not sure that seeing half-naked leather-bound demons whipping each other with looks of ecstasy on their faces match the tone that the comic is trying to establish.
IT CAST A SPELL ON ME
I have a feeling that this comic is going to have a rather long run so long as the writers don’t fall into a rut. The characters seem to play well off each other even if our hero seems to be a bit too good at her job. I look forward to the day when Zee has to showdown with the likes of Felix Faust or a rematch with Dr. Light. Once they smooth out a few rough edges I think this comic will be a regular for a lot of people’s pull lists. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.