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Zatanna #14 – Review

By: Adam Beechen (writer), Jamal Igle & Travis Moore (pencillers), Jon Sibal & John Dell (inkers), Richard and Tanya Horie (colorists)

The Story: You wanna dance?  No?  You’re a witch and you’re going to curse my junk?  Okay.  Cool.  Right!

The Review: Zachary Zatara is one of those DC characters who never fails to touch upon me a sense of bewilderment.  Even though Zatanna has a fairly popular following, she doesn’t quite seem iconic enough to merit a spin-off character, especially one as poorly conceived as Zachary.  He’s essentially a douchey, younger version of Zee with a less impressive range of power and who does the stage thing without fishnets—making him infinitely less interesting, in my mind.

You’d think the Zatara family would spawn at least one magical adept who has no interest in show business, but that’s nepotism for you.  Had Beechen taken this issue as an opportunity to differentiate Zach’s stage and magecraft from Zatanna’s, that would’ve been a worthwhile use of the character.  We get instead Zee berating her ne’er-do-well about his unprofessionalism, but only after the show’s finale, so we don’t actually get to see exactly what she’s going on about.

Beechen seems determined to make Zee as crusty as possible, as after her lecture goes unheard, she follows Zach to a club, where she lambasts the music (“It goes ‘Oonce-oonce-oonce-oonce,’ over and over again!  It’s like water torture!”) and the skuzzy patrons (including a pair of knock-off Butabi Brothers).  Her complaints seem particularly out of character considering how she’s been portrayed with a fondness for clubbing in the past.

But then, Beechen doesn’t have the firmest grasp of Zatanna’s character.  At one point she states that, like her cousin, her power doesn’t affect living things, which is a laugh in itself as living things have been involved in some of her most famous feats (and infamous—mind-whacking Dr. Light in Identity Crisis, anyone?).  The only reason Beechen drags that bit of misinformation into this issue is to prevent Zee from de-spelling her cousin too quickly.

The story just feels ill thought-out and random in general.  Though it makes sense for a succubus to show up at a club, why Beechen connects the creature to Japanese folk legend Yuki-onna is baffling, as she comes more from a ghost story tradition, preying upon lost stragglers in the snow.  This mashing of myths might’ve worked with more craft, but as is, it just seems like Beechen took a cursory look at their respective Wiki pages and mushed the two together.

This seems to be the week for dropping filler issues in the middle of story arcs for unexplainable reason (see Superman #712), as this story has nothing to do with the plot threads from Zatanna #13.  Unlike the “Grounded” storyline in Superman, which is so open-ended and directionless that a fill-in tale feels less intrusive, this run-in with a succubus obviously breaks up the whole flow of what Paul Dini set up last issue.

Igle provides acceptable work as usual, but I have to remark on the contributions from his back-up artist, Moore, whose work I admired very much in Freedom Fighters, but looks downright sloppy here.  There are many points where characters’ faces appear to be melting, and his lines lack the clarity and depth I used to enjoy.

Conclusion: What would be an easily ignorable filler issue is impossible to ignore as it interrupts a fairly crucial storyline and tells a rather thoughtless tale to boot.

Grade: D

- Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: - The only bright point of this issue is Adam Hughes’ stunning cover.  Get the man on Zatanna interiors already, because no one pulls off a bombshell with charm and whimsy like he does.

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2 Responses

  1. Not too much to say here, other than I agree with everything. Except the part about nepotism. To elaborate, having grown up in a show business family, and then creating another myself as a result, it’s really a matter of having either a stage mother or father that puts you in places wherein you can perform. And they want you to do well, so they coach you. Sometimes, too much. When you grow up, you realize it’s the only thing you’re good at.

    Hopefully with my alleged children, I haven’t scarred them for life by attempting to make them do something they truly had no interest in. Well, to a point, really.

    • I wouldn’t take my nepotism remark very seriously, as it was a (very) little joke. But out of curiosity, what kind of show business are you into?

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