Saturday, July 4, 2015

Zatanna the Mistress of Magic by Paul Dini


Rating: WORTHY!

Colors by John Kalisz and Lovern Kindzierski

July Smack-Down Day Four brings us Heart Seed Snow Circuit going up against Zatanna The Mistress of Magic and I can tell you now that these are both winners, so I think I'll end this smack-down routine on that note!!

Zatanna is the daughter of a magician who continues in her father's footsteps, but her magic is real. As such, she hides in plain sight pretending to be a magician and illusionist for a paying public while she fights super villains in her spare time. There are two distinct stories here, each about fifty percent of the entire novel. As the first one opens, a detective picks her up to get her take on a slaughter which was perpetrated in a nearby restaurant, where half-a-dozen criminal kingpins were ceremoniously dispatched.

Zatanna realizes that this was the work of a super villain who appears to be muscling in on the human world of crime. She pays him a visit. He decides he's going to need some help and recruits an impish villain from another realm. Thus the battle lines are drawn up. Eldon Peck, mass murderer, aka Brother Night, seeks to own all crime in San Francisco. Why I don't know. What it will get him that he doesn't already have, I don't know! But he has to take down Zatanna to achieve his goal and in this, he fails of course. Even employing this little imp named Fuseli in service of this aim backfires on him.

I liked Zatanna. She's cool and confident, competent and self-possessed. She's no one's fool and no one's lackey. She doesn't play the lady in distress or pine for male company. She is objectified up the Wahoo (and elsewhere), but that's par for the course for this kind of graphic novel, unfortunately.

The hilarious thing about this (if anything about objectifying women can ever be found hilarious), is that the detective, who sports the absurd name of Dale Colton, actually speaks this line to a colleague: "You need to form more realistic images of women! Honestly? In a graphic novel where women are routinely pneumatically inflated, a character says that? Where's Ironyman when you need him? Never mind, this is a DC comic. He's not available.

I thought the idea of criminals showing up to a venue wherein might lie a trap or an ambush for them, based on nothing more than an invitation from someone they don't even know, was stretching credibility too far, but then the super hero does magic, so everything is a stretch here! And about that magic? Zatanna's spells are all spoken in plain English, but the words (not the sentences) are spoken backwards! Cute.

The second story is set in Las Vegas (pronounced Loss Vegas) and we meet Zatanna fighting a Frank Sinatra look-alike while flying around on cards which behave as magic carpets. She beats her foe and discovers her wayward cousin Zach is not only in town, he's holding a party in her room. Having got rid of those noise-makers, she's about to retire for the night only to discover that three fire demons are interested in taking her on. It never flames but it roars....


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