Comics review: Zatanna # 14

With Zee’s solo series not continuing past the DC reboot (sob!), her inclusion in “Justice League Dark” (with John Constantine, Madam Xanadu, and the like) instead, AND with the Brother Night plot arc needing to be finished by issue #16, I was really looking forward to the comic described in the previously released summary:

Zatanna’s struggle against Brother Night forces the Maid of Magic to reach into the darkest places for a mystic edge in battle. But now that she’s fighting as dirty as Night, will Zatanna’s own soul be lost in the process?

Unfortunately, we don’t get that potentially awesome story. Instead, we get a one-shot featuring Zee and her younger cousin Zachary in a bar in Las Vegas. Zee mothers Zach, Zach doesn’t listen to her, Zach gets into trouble, and Zee bails him out. Not necessarily something I wanted to see with the end so close and the main plot still hanging.

A short backgrounder on the person writing the review: I started following DC after constant exposure to a boyfriend and friends who live and breathe DC. I suppose you could say that it was something I caught (like a cold!). Watching Smallville for several years also heavily contributed to the fascination. (My love for Zee stems from Serinda Swan’s portrayal of her. She’s now my most favorite character :D) Anyway, the point is this: I know enough to be able to maintain conservations with DC fans BUT not enough to enter hardcore debates on specific writers, artists, and the like. Therefore, this review (and any others in the future) is based on how much I enjoyed the comic book/trade paperback on its own and how it fits into what I know of the series. Luckily, I’ve been following Zee’s solo flight since Zatanna #1 🙂

The pros:

Zatanna’s an interesting study of contrasts: a flirty stage magician with love troubles but when the chips are down, one of the most formidable allies you could ever have. I find that her stories work best when both sides are shown, something that happens in this issue. Her transition from snarky older cousin who gets the short end of the stick to kickass magician capable of throwing down with a yuki-onna then back to snarky, unappreciated older cousin is – dare I say it? – magical. And hey, stories about Zee’s ongoing love troubles are usually funny (she reads romance novels!).

My favorite panels from this issue:

Oonce music FTW!!!

Did I mention that I LOVE Adam Hughes’ cover? 😀 Soft, ethereal, and mysterious all at the same time.

The cons:

Unfortunately, I have several issues with this, erm, issue.

First, we really didn’t need a filler story. The series is ending and you waste pages on a filler? 🙁 Second, the transition from Jamal Igle’s to Travis Moore’s pencils halfway through the issue was very jarring. I wish Mr. Igle had done the entire issue instead. Third, did the antagonist have to be a yuki-onna? She just says that she’s a yuki-onna and is usually a creature of the snows but leaves it at that. She wasn’t even in a white dress! It just felt like a cheap way of integrating known mythological creatures into the story.

And last but definitely not least, the mini retcon! What was that bit about Zatanna’s powers not working on living tissue? The incidents involving Dr. Light, Batman, and Catwoman not ringing any bells? Not to mention the “LAEH EM” spells she’s done before. See? This is why I prefer Paul Dini writing Zatana.

All in all, Zatanna #14 is okay – it’s funny in the right places and we see Zee outsmarting a snow spirit, but there were some things I could have done without. Good enough but definitely not great.I hope the closing issues will be better and Dini gives Zatanna the final curtain call she deserves.

(Yes, I will be picking up “Justice League Dark #1 when it comes out.)


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