Zatanna #1 (2010)

Zatanna #1 (July, 2010)
Writer – Paul Dini
Penciller – Stephane Roux
Inker – Karl Story
Letterer – Pat Brosseau
Colorist – John Kalisz
Assistant Editor – Chris Conroy
Editor – Joey Cavalieri
Cover Price: $2.99

This is one of those “remember where I was when I read it” issues.  Not so much for the story, as it didn’t totally knock my socks off… but for the fact that I read it in my work vehicle while the air conditioner struggled to keep up with the 115° Arizona Sunday Summer Sun.  Warning: My preamble story won’t knock any socks off either…

A few years back as I reacquainted myself with the academic lifestyle, I started working part-time as a windshield repairman for one of the larger US firms.  As luck would have it, I drew the straw to work every Sunday.  Now Sunday was a strange day for this gig, as all my customers for the day noted that they be my first appointment… yet, invariably whenever I’d make my first morning “call”, the customer would either A) answer their phone in church… and then lambaste me for calling them while they were in worship , or B) answer their phone to tell me that I just woke them up on the only day of the week they’re able to sleep in.  Good times.

This would happen every single Sunday without fail.  That being said, I got used to… sitting in my car, waiting for folks to get home or wake up.  On a particularly late work day, I stopped in at a local comic shop and just grabbed the first book I saw to kill a few minutes… that book just happened to be the one we’ll be discussing today.

We open with Zatanna bound and gagged while Dr. Light and the Joker push a comically-large drill toward her.  The drill appears to go right into her back… then she vanishes.  The Joker and Dr. Light get magically tied up… and Zee takes her bow.  This was all the main event of her magic act.

Backstage, Zatanna is giving some pointers to her assistants when she is interrupted by Detective Dale Colton’s five o’clock shadow.  He tells her some heavy stuff went down at the Nob Hill Chop House, and he hopes she can help him sort it out.  [Zee Fact: Zatanna is a vegetarian].  After a car ride, Zatanna and Colton arrive to find quite the strange mass-murder scene.

Zatanna checks out the oddly transformed corpses, and comes upon one of the surviving waiters.  [Zee Fact: Zatanna speaks Spanish].  She psychically goes into his head to relive the horrendous events that transpired.  It was to be a meeting between the heads of several gangster outfits…that was interrupted by a man by the name of Eldon Peck… Brother Night, trafficker of human souls.

Peck called forth his crew… Romalthi the Shaper, Ember the Unborn Dragon, and Teddy… a boy with a box of bugs.  They make short work of the criminal elite, and return to their Underworld realm.

Back in the real world, Zatanna performs some magic of her own, returning the fallen crims to their human shape.  This spell causes Brother Night to feel her presence… and he smiles.

Zatanna, realizing it’s time to go to work, gets into her stage duds… and poofs to Brother Night’s den… where she absolutely decimates Night’s crew… until she’s standing before the man himself.

We learn that Night is no longer satisfied ruling over the Mystic Underworld and is now set to expand his influence to the “real” Underworld.  We also learn that Brother Night was something of an acquaintance to Zee’s father, John Zatara.  After some tough talk back-and-forth, Zatanna takes her leave.

Back at her home, Zatanna considers all she’s found out… and decides to take a wait-and-see approach as she hops into a warm bath.

Back in the Underworld, Brother Night dreams up his next move… by visiting the realm of the one known as the Great Fuseli (Jerry?).

Why Fusilli?  Because you’re silly!

An enjoyable enough first issue for Zatanna.  Nothing Earth-shattering, but it really didn’t need to be.  Actually, it’s a pretty quiet table-setting issue.  Zee gets plenty of screen time, and her first major threat is established.

Zatanna is depicted as wonderfully confident here… not letting any of the threats before her get under her skin.  You can tell she’s been there and done that, and I really dig that Dini is using her experience as a strength.

Stephane Roux’ art is absolutely awesome.  It does get a bit cheesecakey here and there, but that’s not always a bad thing.  Zee is drawn to be a very attractive woman… when juxtaposed with the gruesome Underworld mobsters, it is made even more apparent.  I wish Roux’s resume was longer, as he’s an artist I’d like to follow.

Really not too much to say about it… like I said, mostly table-setting… and clearly written “for the trade”.  This was a fun series to follow while it lasted, and if I’m not mistaken was a casualty of Flashpoint.  This is a series to check out… in trade paperback format, if you can find it.

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