by Paul Dini (writer), Stephane Roux (pencils & inks), Karl Story (inks), John Kalisz (colors), and Pat Brosseau (letters)

The Story: Zatanna battles Fuseli in the realms of nightmare and Brother Night makes Detective Colton an offer he can’t refuse.

What’s Good: Stephane Roux’s artwork in this issue is awesome.  He takes his game up to totally new levels for this issue.  A good part of it is due to much of the issue taking place in Zatanna’s dreams, which allows Roux to really cut loose with his lay-outs, allowing him to go wild with a couple of awesome splash pages or create pages that feel like organic collages while John Kalisz goes wild with the psychedelic colors.   Zatanna’s facial expressions are also really well done, instantly making her very likable.  Villains Brother Night and Fuseli look great as well; Brother Night’s barely changing sinister grin is creepy as hell and Fuseli reminded me of Gollum of LOTR fame.

Dini’s Zatanna continues to grow on me.  Her trademark sassiness is ever present and it was nice surprise to see her be completely unfazed Fuseli’s nightmares.  Instead going through the typical traumatic struggle with her past, Zatanna quickly interrupts Fuseli and starts kicking ass in the nightmare realm.  It was a total about-face from what I was expecting.  Dini also adds plenty of human touches to the character.  In constantly wanting a good night’s rest, Zatanna is instantly more sympathetic and vulnerable, which is in complete juxtaposition to her composure when battling Fuseli’s conjurations.  It’s really rather neat as Zatanna shows no vulnerability under stress, when we’d expect her to, but instantly becomes human outside of that stress.  If that’s not the mark of a superhero, I’m not sure what is.

Dini is also very effectively building up Brother Night.  Everything he does is subtle and minimal, just enough to hint at his power without ever pulling back the curtain.  There’s a demonstration of his power this issue that is really awesome in this respect; it suggests the sheer depth of his power without breaking out any pyrotechnics.

I also liked Dini’s depiction of Fuseli’s dream manipulation.  Instead of going with standard nightmares for his victims of falling or monsters or what have you, Fuseli’s constructions are realistic and close to life.  It’s far more effective and it makes a lot more sense.

What’s Not So Good: Dini draws upon Zatanna’s history more than I expected this month, which may not have been a great move for a character like Zatanna.  It made me sort of wish that Dini expanded on his little hints here and there.  Why not tell a bit more about Zatanna’s relationship with Mikey?  Why not remove the smoke and mirrors and be a little bit clearer about what exactly the trauma from Zatanna’s past is?  Both would’ve been great character scenes with a lot of emotional weight that would’ve pulled us closer to Zatanna.  I can’t help but feel that this potential was cast aside in favour of little nods and winks to the past, which is not at all a good trade and one that leads to head-scratching.

Also, I have to mention that Roux’s made Zatanna’s breasts uncomfortably and distractingly enormous.  There are a couple panels where it looks ridiculous.

Detective Colton also continues to be a bit on the bland side, used more for building up Brother Night.  I’m sure this’ll change, but right now, he does little for me.

Conclusion: A really fun romp.  Not much more I can ask for.

Grade: B+

-Alex Evans