Zatanna


Zatanna

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Zatanna
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Zatanna, from the cover of Catwoman vol. 3, #58. Art by Adam Hughes.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics/Vertigo
First appearance Hawkman vol. 1 #4
(October-November, 1964)
Created by Gardner Fox
Murphy Anderson
In story information
Alter ego Zatanna Zatara
Species Homo Magi
Team affiliations Seven Soldiers of Victory
Justice League
Sentinels of Magic
Notable aliases Primak
Abilities Skilled and powerful user of magic.

Zatanna Zatara is a fictional character in the DC Comics universe. Created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Murphy Anderson, Zatanna first appeared in Hawkman vol. 1 #4 (October-November 1964).

Contents

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  • 1 Fictional character biography
  • 2 Relationships
  • 3 Alternate versions
  • 4 Powers and abilities
  • 5 Depictions in other media
    • 5.1 Animation
    • 5.2 Film
    • 5.3 Video games
  • 6 Parodies/Homages
  • 7 References
  • 8 External links

Fictional character biography

Zatanna is the daughter of magician Giovanni Zatara (who appeared in Golden Age comic books) and Sindella, a member of the mystical “Homo Magi” race. Zatanna is a direct descendant of the artist Leonardo da Vinci (who was a magician in the DC Universe), and is related to Nostradamus; Alessandro Cagliostro; alchemists Nicolas Flamel and Evan Fulcanelli; and King Arion of Atlantis. Her younger cousin, the teenager Zachary Zatara, is also a magician in the DCU.

Zatanna makes her living as a stage illusionist prior to discovering her magical abilities while investigating the disappearance of her father. Zatanna’s search for her father was the subject of the first major comic book crossover in 1964, and in it, Zatanna interacts with Batman and Robin, Hawkman and Hawkwoman, the Atom, Elongated Man, and Green Lantern.

Zatanna assists the Justice League of America on a number of cases before being elected to membership in Justice League of America #161. During her tenure with the group, her power level diminishes, so that she can only control the four elements of earth, air, fire, and water; this limitation is reversed in World’s Finest Comics #277.

In the 1993 limited series Zatanna: Come Together, Zatanna worries about her lack of focus in using magic. She decides that her father’s style of magic is wrong for her, and explores her mother’s mystical heritage.

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Zatanna mind-wiping Doctor Light. Art by Brian Bolland.

In the 2004 limited series Identity Crisis, Zatanna is a member of the Justice League at the time the villain Dr. Light brutally attacks and rapes the Elongated Man’s wife, Sue Dibny. When apprehended, he threatens the JLA members’ families. Although Zatanna is prepared to erase Light’s memories of the incident (as she had done to other villains with dangerous knowledge to the League), tampering with Light’s mind sparks a debate among the League members: should the villain’s personality be transformed in order to prevent him from repeating his crime? Zatanna, Hawkman, and The Atom (Ray Palmer) vote for such action, while Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) vote against. The Flash (Barry Allen) breaks the tie. Zatanna mind-wipes Light, and the process results in his intellectual abilities being lowered. In the midst of the process, Batman appears and tries to stop it. Zatanna freezes him, and the members vote to erase Batman’s memories of the incident as well.

Her relationship to Batman sours after he discovers the alteration to his memory. When Zatanna helps Batman with reconnaissance at one of Ra’s al Ghul’s Lazarus Pits, she asks him why he came to her. “I needed someone I can trust,” Batman says. “But I had to settle for you.” However, after Infinite Crisis, their relationship appears to have warmed; in Detective Comics #824 he calls her for information on a card-counter involved in scamming the Penguin. He makes no mention of their conflict, and casually calls her by her nickname, “Zee”.

After departing from the League, Zatanna continues to appear on stage and to defend against mystical threats, joining the Sentinels of Magic.

Zatanna’s mind-wipe of Dr. Light in Identity Crisis is not an isolated occurrence. Catwoman discovers that her journey from villain to hero and her resulting efforts to lead a moral life are the result of Zatanna’s mental intervention. Catwoman comes to distrust her memories, motives, and the choices she has made since that incident. In retaliation, Catwoman covers Zatanna’s mouth with a piece of duct tape and shoves her out a window.

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Cover art for Seven Soldiers: Zatanna #1, by Ryan Sook.

A 2005 four-issue Zatanna limited series was published as part of Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers of Victory event. In it, at a support group for superheroes, she recounts a failed magical ritual to search for her father’s tomes, during which one of her past spells summons a shapeshifter named Gwydion, who kills her companions. This trauma, combined with her guilt from her former mind-wipes, robs her of her powers. With the help of her new apprentice, Misty Kilgore, she captures Gwydion to use as her own. She eventually regains her confidence and powers, and uses them to defeat Zor, a rogue Time Tailor who released the Sheeda as a plague to infect and degrade the entire universe. As a reward, the other Time Tailors allow her one last meeting with her father, who reveals that his books were written in her, his “greatest spell and gift to the world”. In the final battle against the Sheeda, Zatanna casts a spell to move time and space, retroactively positioning the Seven Soldiers to overthrow the Sheeda.

In Detective Comics #833, it is revealed that Zatanna’s father was a friend of Thomas Wayne. Zatara trained Bruce Wayne in the art of escape; and Bruce and Zatanna were childhood friends. Bruce helps Zatanna investigate the death of one of her former assistants; all clues point to a performer named Ivar Loxias. However, Loxias is revealed to be the Joker in disguise; he shoots Zatanna in the throat and incapacitates Batman. Zatanna is able to heal herself by writing a curing spell in her own blood, and she is instrumental in foiling the Joker’s scheme. Bruce puts Zatanna’s betrayal behind him, allowing the two to renew their friendship.

Zatanna helps Catwoman, to whom she owes a favor, mind-wiping Angle Man and Film Freak, who had been subdued by Selina after the two discovered her secret identity and threatened her child.

Following the flooding of Earth-26, the Zoo Crew and other humanoid animal refugees escape, transformed into their animal counterparts and unable to speak, even though they retain their human-level intelligence. Zatanna encounters the group and takes Captain Carrot as a pet for use in her magic act, unaware of his true identity.

On the “Roll Call” of Justice League of America #22, Zatanna is listed as a part of the team.

Relationships

Zatanna has had various romantic relationships with fellow DC characters, including John Constantine (with whom she practiced tantra) and Doctor Thirteen. Zatanna also has a kindly semi-parental friendship with Timothy Hunter. She also (currently) has a strong friendship with Batman due to their shared pasts. In Detective Comics #843 and #844, Zatanna and Bruce briefly discuss the possibility of having a more meaningful relationship. Both later concede that Bruce is too devoted to his cause as Batman to give her the relationship she wishes for, but the pair reaffirm their bond as close friends. Catwoman, however, appears to consider Zatanna a more dangerous contender for Bruce attentions than Jezebel Jet (his current fiancée at the time). [1] A pep talk between the young women confirms how Zatanna really meant, during the fateful discussion with Bruce, exploring the possibility of a true romance, but turned off quietly resigned to the role of best friend and confident. Claiming to act on Bruce’s best interest, she pushes Selina into confessing her feelings to Bruce before Jet is able to seal the deal, stepping down. [2]

Alternate versions

  • An alternate version of Zatanna with blonde hair is seen in the 2005 series Books of Magick: Life During Wartime. In the series, Zatanna fights for a coalition of humans and faeries against the dictatorial class of faerie-ruling elites.
  • Annataz Arataz, Zatanna’s evil Earth-3 counterpart, assists Superman-Prime to detain and torment Mr. Mxyzptlk in Countdown to Final Crisis #23. The imp refuses to provide Prime with information, and Annataz restores his powers. Reflecting upon her own prior cruel actions, she allows herself to be killed by the enraged villain. Her spells are recited “upside-down”, rather than backwards.

Powers and abilities

Zatanna is a powerful sorceress whose abilities are apparently genetic. As a tribute to her father and as a focal point, she usually casts spells by speaking verbal commands backwards. She has also proven capable on many occasions of casting spells by speaking normally. However, she has demonstrated the ability to use magic for simple tasks without speaking. Like Black Canary, Zatanna’s reliance on her voice often led to her being bound and gagged by villains in Silver Age stories, thus rendering her ‘powerless.’ On very rare occasions, Zatanna has cast spells by writing them in her own blood rather than speaking them aloud.

The limits of her powers have never been clearly established. She has been called the most powerful member of the Justice League, and is often depicted working alongside the most powerful magic-users on Earth, including Doctor Fate, Madame Xanadu, and Captain Marvel. She has used her powers to command elemental forces, heal, transmute and transmogrify objects, manipulate minds, and attack her opponents with energy blasts. She has resurrected the city of Metropolis from ruin, merged Aquaman’s spirit with the entire ocean, and manipulated time and space. During a portion of her initial tenure with the Justice League, her powers were more limited, consisting in the manipulation of fire, air, water, and earth. Recently, in Superman/Batman #46, she was told she could not enter a certain volcano because it was enchanted against gods. Furthermore, her powers seems tied to her self-confidence, as the long series of blunders described in Seven Soldiers left her both emotionally and psychologically shattered, both powerless, until she was able to restore her lost confidence.

Zatanna may be harmed by magic, even if her training makes her able to defend from the most magic users. Along with Etrigan and the Phantom Stranger she was able to keep her own against an host-less Spectre, and was later able to banish alone the god-empowered Mary Marvel from her home, but the current iteration of Amazo was able to employ her own powers and cast a spell and take away her voice, leaving the young magician powerless, and doing so with enough quickness and precision to take Zatanna off-guard and prevent her from defending.

Zatanna is a skilled illusionist, showgirl and stage magician even without resorting to her innate magical powers. In fact she considers part of her “traning” exercising into sleigh-of-hand tricks, and she claims to have invented a variation of the three card shuffle game called the Zatanna shuffle, in which she’s so fast and precise that, even without resorting to cheat, only skilled gamblers as Selina Kyle are able to follow the movements of her hands.

Zatanna owns a mansion called Shadowcrest, in which she keeps a vast library of magical knowledge, as well as an arsenal of powerful relics, enough to do “just about anything you’d want to do.” Shadowcrest seems to exist in a completely different dimension, although it is initially located outside of Gotham.

Depictions in other media

Animation

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Zatanna in the Justice League Unlimited episode, “This Little Piggy”.

Zatanna first appears in a Batman: The Animated Series episode of the same name, (voiced by Julie Brown) as an illusionist with no apparent magic powers. She developed a close relationship with Bruce Wayne (who was using the alias “John Smith”) during the years in which Wayne was travelling the globe, learning skills that later serve him as Batman. Zatanna later comes to Gotham City with her magic show, but finds herself being framed by a criminal magic debunker. Her efforts to restore her name and stop the villain put her side-by-side with the Batman, whom she recognizes as “John Smith”.

Further DC Animated Universe depictions, both in online Flash animation shorts and Justice League Unlimited episodes, show her trademark magic. She appears in the episode “This Little Piggy”, (this time voiced by Jennifer Hale), where she helps Batman search for the villainess Circe, who has turned Wonder Woman into a pig. Zatanna is apparently aware of Batman’s true identity (“Bruce!…I haven’t seen you for so long…”) and knows him well enough to perceive his romantic relationship to Wonder Woman. She seems to be very good friends with Batman, as they often banter (“Don’t get snippy with me!”). In her JLU depictions, her spells are often cast backwards, but almost equally often cast without words, and on one occasion, speaking normally.

DCAU writer Paul Dini wrote both of Zatanna’s major appearances described above, and apparently likes the character quite a lot. In 1998, Alan Burnett told Wizard Magazine “Paul Dini wanted to use Zatanna because he’s secretly in love with her. It’s something we try not to talk about too much.” Dini later married magician Misty Lee.

In her last appearance in the DCAU, on the Justice League Unlimited series finale, “Destroyer,” Zatanna appears in a non-speaking role as one of many League Members called to help fight the invading Apokoliptan forces. She transforms an entire flock of Parademons into doves, then transmutes them into explosive energy, and destroys several Apokoliptan battleships with them.

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Teenage Zatanna in Cartoon Monsoon

Zatanna makes two appearances in the Gotham Girls flash animation episodes. In “A Little Night Magic”, Zatanna walks home on her own after doing a magic show and has some adventures on the way: She turns a robber’s gun into a snake, splits a truck in half when it almost runs her over, and turns some street thugs into toads after they take her hat. In “Hold the Tiger”, Zatanna stops Catwoman from stealing the Cat’s Eye Opals from a jewelry store. Zatanna doesn’t arrest Catwoman but instead asks Catwoman for help in finding her white tiger.

Two episodes of a Cartoon Monsoon contest entry feature Zatanna as a teenage hero who is a cross between Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This saw her match wits with Klarion the Witch Boy, and also featured her father (referred to only as “Zatara”) as well as the new character of Zatanna’s older, non-magic-wielding brother (named “Damon” in promotional literature, though his name was only mentioned once in the second episode).

Film

In 2005 screenwriter Hadley Davis (Ice Princess) announced that she had written an action-comedy featuring a teenaged version of Zatanna. Nothing further was ever heard about this project, and it is presumed to have been abandoned.[3]

Video games

Zatanna is a playable character in the console videogame Justice League Heroes, voiced by Kari Wahlgren.

Parodies/Homages

Zatanna was spoofed in the Tiny Toon Adventures episode “Just-Us League of Supertoons” as Fifi Le Fume’s alter-ego, Scentanna, the Mystical Maiden of Musk.

Zatanna was also spoofed in The Fairly OddParents episode, “The Masked Magician”, where Timmy Turner had an alter-ego of the same name.

References

  1. ^ Detective Comics #845
  2. ^ Detective Comics #846
  3. ^ Zatanna May Charm the Big Screen



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