Current Reviews


Seven Soldiers of Victory: Zatanna #4

Posted: Monday, November 28, 2005
By: Shawn Hill


Writer: Grant Morrison
Artists: Ryan Sook (p), Mick Gray (i)

Publisher: DC Comics

Plot: Zee’s worst instincts war with her best quality (her flexible belief system), as an evil doppelganger of her father asks her to choose her future: shallow femme fatale, or ramshackle mistress of sleight of hand magic.

Sexism watch: This is going to be one of those reviews, where I only focus on how well or poorly a job the writer does of presenting a compelling female character. Morrison’s too smart for me, however, and as clever on this title as he is on The Bulleteer in working with an artist who can deliver all the T&A
one might desire, even as such display is revealed and exposed as the
shallowest and most obvious of manipulations.

I’ve enjoyed Grant’s take on Zatanna since this series began. Without ever directly referring to the unwelcome events of various Crises, he presented a reason for how an uber-powerful and experienced witch like Zee could make such grave errors: while she’s not in over her head, the realities with which she works are various and competing and complex, and sometimes even a master gets overwhelmed by existential horror.

I thought this story would be about finding herself again, and certainly it has been about the dangers of searching for a savior rather than saving one’s self. Ghosts and specters have bedeviled Zee since the story began, and she’s tamed most of them, if mostly by a fearless willingness to test the waters, and no small amount of luck and helpful allies.

Her charge, Misty, hasn’t turned out to be a traitor (though she remains a locus for trouble), and Grant makes time for some tender and convincing female-bonding. But then she’s shooed away, because Zatanna has woman’s work to do, and for that she needs a fishnet bodystocking. Sook sells it that such a getup is actually empowering next to a leather bustier chosen by someone else, and matches up the art perfectly when a slutted-out Zee declares (backwards) “Restore Zatanna to Annoy Daddy!”

And that would be almost all you need to know about the epic battle between Zor and Zee, except that Sook and Morrison manage to bend all those postmodern fourth walls of storytelling they danced around in the first issue, including a gorgeous two-page sequence where Zatanna throttles her foe amidst writhing tentacles and flaming sorcerers.

And then it gets really weird, tying in this book strongly with the #0 issue that began this whole project. This one ends on a cliffhanger, too, but like Klarion it’s such an obvious one after a significant climax that it bothers not at all. I mean, we have to maneuver all seven in place for final battle, right?

The real one where they hopefully all don’t die, as in the hat trick first one?

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