EDITOR’S NOTE: This month’s issue of Zatanna isn’t written by Paul Dini, so this review will not be written by regular Zatanna reviewer Danny Djeljosevic. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Here we are at the 12th issue of Zatanna, and I can honestly say that I never thought this day would come. It’s not because I don’t believe in the character and especially not because I don’t have faith in Paul Dini. I love both with all of my heart, but we’ve all fully embraced a book only to have it canceled before our very eyes. So, out of fear of being hurt, I really didn’t get attached to this title. I’d buy the book every month and have a good time, but I always walked away with the mindset that it would be the last one. But after a year, I’ve decided to simply open my heart and dive in.
With Zatanna #12, Jack of Fables scribe Matthew Sturges fills in for Mr. Dini, pitting our girl Zatanna against a new antagonist named Blacklash — a Cockney bloke whose magic sword can rewind time. Sturges is a good writer and an obvious choice for a magic-based title — it’s a world he’s comfortable in. However, he takes a different approach to the specific feel Dini has set up, leaving the supernatural aspects much more exposed.
Early on, we check in with Zatanna, who reveals some of the magical goings-on around San Francisco, including ghosts and dragons. Even on the first page, we’re introduced to mer-people lounging in the Sutro Baths. And while it’s entertaining to see these magical creatures on display, putting them out in the open also demystifies them. Paul Dini has already created a more mysterious and reserved tone when it comes to his magical rules, so it was odd to see Sturges do the opposite.
Now, that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy this book; far from that. Sturges has a great handle on humor and dialogue — particularly as Backlash’s time-altering abilities lay waste to Zatanna’s main source of power, with only her mastery over palindromes saving the day.
Artist Stephane Roux has come back to penciling, taking the reigns back from Cliff Chiang and Jamal Igle. Roux can tackle all variety of subjects, from pretty girls to grotesque monsters and bizarre situations. Having a multi-faceted artist like this is so important to a book whose situations can (literally) change in a flash. Plus, I have to commend John Kalisz on his wonderful polar opposite coloring: vibrant neon greens and dull, dirty flannels thrive together in the same panels, and it all looks great.
So there you have it: a quirky but fun issue with great visuals and an Amanda Conner cover? I can’t believe I didn’t mention that before — I think I was too busy drooling over it. While it doesn’t quite capture the magic that the previous issues had, I definitely didn’t regret picking it up.