Seven Soldiers: Zantanna #4

Reviewer: Tim Stevens
Story Title: Zor!

Written by: Grant Morrison
Pencilled by: Ryan Sook
Inked by: Mick Gray
Colored by: Nathan Eyring
Lettered by: Jared K. Fletcher
Editor: Peter Tomasi
Publisher: DC Comics

All of the Seven Soldiers minis have reflected certain aspects of Grant Morrison’s writing style and favorite approaches, for better or worse. Zantanna is most in line with his JLA work; crazy ideas tumbling one after the other (so fast that some…most really, are left behind rather quickly), a playful sense of humor, and, oddly, the world constantly on the brink of unspeakable danger and demise. This does leave Zantanna as less substantive than say Klarion, Guardian, or, though I did not enjoy it, Shining Knight. It is a frothy enjoyable concoction nonetheless though.

The true star of this book this issue is not Zatanna but rather her scene stealing nemesis, Zor. Like a Shakespearean trained actor unleashed in a b-level action flick, he chews up scenery (sometimes literally, in this case) like nobody’s business. He and Zatanna’s “magic off” is massive and planet defying, rendered with surprising deftness by Sook and Gray considering how little physical occurs at first, but what sticks out most in my mind is not the spells but rather the scathing back and forth between the two. Zor’s perfect retort to Zatanna insulting his beard? “Liar! It’s a magnificent beard and I know you want one.” The fact that he is astride Jupiter at the time never really seems to enter into the equation. Even these two magicians, swollen full of awesome power, can be petty and childish, it appears.

Zatanna also successfully pulls the threads of connection in the Seven Soldiers event tighter together. The puzzle is nowhere near complete but more and more it is becoming clear that this interrelated sort-of kind-of series of minis really is not as disparate as it first appeared. This issue makes it clearer that when all is said and done, this is going to be quite a work to re-read when each part is available to look through, compare, and peruse for further clues.

Sadly, despite the fun and the focusing of the event, this is not a book without faults. Morrison uses “breaking the fifth wall” technique again and it is done in such a throw away manner that it hardly seems worth it. I know he can do it masterfully (Animal Man) so I cannot help but question why he’d bother to go the well again to deliver such an undercooked attempt at it for three or so panels. Also, and yes this is silly and petty, but honest, the backwards spell casting can be very frustrating to read. It very much interrupts the flow. I know there is no other way to portray Zatanna’s powers, but when she is using it this much in one issue, it is noticeably disruptive.