Review: Zatanna #13

Industry hero Paul Dini sets up some ominous portents for the everywoman sorceress, and she meets up with the Spectre to head them off at the pass.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Zatanna 13

When reviewing Zatanna #12, I noted it seemed like a good jumping-on point specifically for female readers, but truth be told, I was jumping on the title in the same place, so I decided to stick around and see if Ms. Top Hat and Tails could continue to charm me into reading her adventures.  Having Paul Dini back in the saddle writing one of his favorite characters couldn't hurt, either. 

Having never been particularly interested in the 'magic' genre of comic books (hence the running debate between myself and my Book Report co-host Iann Robinson about which character wins: Dr. Strange or Aunt Petunia's Favorite Nephew Benjamin J. Grimm aka The Ever-Lovin' Blue-Eyed Thing… but I digress), I very much appreciate the fact that the theme with Zatanna seems to be that despite her ridiculous power level, she's essentially a normal woman.  She's not aloof and mysterious, she's out there and being social, feeding neighborhood cats, galumphing about in her bathrobe and wrinkly socks and treating her weird circumstances as matter-of-factly as we'd treat a trip to the supermarket.  It may not make her seem all that thrilling, but it certainly helps in the approachability of the character.  Jamal Ingle's rendering of her only helps that button-cuteness vibe, thankfully avoiding any obnoxious exploitation of her work outfit by eschewing pointlessly contorted poses.  It's refreshing.

In this issue, a magical cat shows up with a vision/message she has to piece together, and what takes precedence for her is the indication that somehow she's going to run afoul of the Spectre, so she sets off to nip that one in the bud.  It seems that Zee is one of the very few people who could get away with referring to the Spirit of God's Vengeance as a "cosmic douche," but this is also a snarkier Spectre than I recall ever seeing before.  Perhaps that's the Crispus Allen influence – assuming one of the 1200 recent "crises" in the DCU didn't put someone else in those green booties. 

This little meet-n-greet is the B-story, though.  The bulk of the issue is devoted to the prison break of Brother Night, who appears to be some kind of undead dark-magic version of Marvel's Purple Man, able to make people do his bidding just by being near them.  His escape causes a living nightmare for Detective Dale Colton, who suffers the unfortunate indignity of having a name lame enough to belong in a soap opera or a romance novel.  Detective Dale Colton tries his damnedest to stop Brother Night, but fails, sending him on a path to learn a horrible truth about his connection to the evil jerk.  However, the upside is that at least we know his real name is not Detective Dale Colton.

Judging by how unsettling I find the Purple Man (thank you, Brian Michael Bendis), it's possible that the generally pleasant vibe of the last two issues might dissolve into something dark and twisted as Zee heads toward a conflict with Night.  At the moment, though, it's an easygoing, low-key book that's not trying to knock your socks off.  It's just a nice little read.