If I had to sum up the first ten issues of Zatanna in a single word, I think ‘weird’ would be the best pick.
In ten issues time, Zatanna foils a magical crime boss’ bid to take over the underworld of mankind, takes on the demon god of wealth, and teams up with the tortured soul of an evil puppeteer trapped in his own soul – the comic isn’t lacking in variety, credit has to be given. Fans of DC’s more mystical side will find a lot to love here; every issue brings some wilder and wilder to the table, giving the comic some flash and suspense. In a lot of ways, it’s like a magic show in itself – the focus is on distraction through the bizarre, putting Zatanna in impossible, dire situations and making you wonder just how, oh how, she’s going to get out. Thanks to the flavor of dues ex machina Zatanna’s powers have, the suspense can sometimes fall a little flat, but when Zatanna uses her wits, charm and will to get out, the comic shines.
Paul Dini does an excellent job of nailing Zatanna’s narration. After reading and surviving Identity Crisis years ago, any reason to like her again is refreshing, and Dini provides quite a few – her relationship with her cousin, Zatara, regrets over her the passing of her father and dealing with the legacy he left behind, even her somewhat odd fear of puppets. He keeps the dialogue fresh and funny enough to push it all along, too, and though I do wish some of the side characters were a bit better fleshed out – the detective that seems to be her budding love interest and her standhands, for instance – they’ll likely come into their own as things progress. For now, the writing is consistently good.
The art, however, lacks that consistency. Over the course of ten issues, the artist changes four times – Stephanie Roux, to Chad Hardin, to Jesus Saiz – right in the middle of a story arc, I might add – to Cliff Chiang. They’re all good artists with their own distinct style, and that’s part of the problem: It makes the transitions particularly jarring. Also, all of them are a bit big on the chesscake…but with Zatanna, that’s somewhat expected.
All in all, it’s not an outstanding series so far, but it does show some potential, and issue 10 ends on a cliffhanger that will probably have me picking issue 11 when I get the chance. It’s a solid buy for any fan of Zatanna or just lovers of arcane-focused comics in general, and it won’t hurt anyone else to take a quick peek.
Tags: DC, Zatanna