DC Comics, 2017
By day, Zatanna is a legendary Vegas stage magician. By night, she uses her vast and very real magical abilities to keep the world safe from all manner of demonic and dark mystical harm. Wait… I’m pretty sure the stage magic happens at night too.
Most of the time, Zatanna’s that character other heroes call upon for a special occasion magic-based issue or episode. She shows up, dazzles with her extraordinary power and charming sense of whimsy, and leaves the audience wanting more, as a legendary stage magician is wont to do.
Sadly, this volume makes it easy to understand why we generally can’t have more of Zatanna, however much we might think we want to. As fleetingly annoying as it may be when characters who’ve called on her before must conveniently forget about her or explain why she can’t be called in to fix other potentially world-ending problems with a few magic words, the rationalizing of continued stakes is even more difficult when that magical quick fix is the ever-present main character.
As a result, most of the major arcs of this omnibus revolve around creating or revealing different ill-defined and inconsistent weaknesses in Zatanna’s power, which apart from being problematic from a continuity standpoint, make it very difficult to feel that we really know Zatanna, no matter how much time we spend with her.
Thankfully, a good portion of the issues take the form in which Zatanna shines best -- episodic.
Easily the most enjoyable parts are the run-ins with magical monsters of the month, the weirder the better, from possessed ventriloquy dummies to time-manipulators who make her speak in palindromes. And naturally, one issue’s worth of vicious Zatanna/Constantine banter is worth the whole read, an extra concentrated dose of too-special-for-every-issue, within a comic about a character who’s already too-special-for-every-issue.
In all these self-encapsulated portions, Zatanna’s just as much fun on her own as she is backing up a more grounded lead, and when things drift further into the mythos, her cool, bubbly, slightly mischievous presence usually remains incentive enough to unplug from pondering the many questions begged by her brand of magic, to better enjoy the show.
Agree? Disagree? Comments are always welcome (just keep it civil, folks)! Or keep up with my fictional musings by joining me on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or by signing up for email updates in the panel on the right!