“Night on Devil Mountain”
Reading this issue of Zatanna made me sit back afterward and think of what DC is aiming for with this series. As of right now it just appears that the goal is to let writer Paul Dini toy around and try to find something that resonates with the readers. Unfortunately, the character is a one-dimensional figure. I love Zatanna, but it is true. She works well within the confines of a team group like the Justice League but when you set her on her own you begin to realize there just isn’t much to go on.
Paul Dini tries admirably to churn out a engaging story but it just came across as so ho-hum and cliché. The setting was a generic one consisting of Zatanna against the forces of Brother Night, a cult leader who has essentially sold his soul to gain the power of black magic. The reveal of how Night obtained his powers was interesting, however it is in the confrontations where Dini stumbled more oft than not. Between a rather boring face-off Zatanna gains the upper hand but, behold, as Brother Night pulls out his ace in the hole of DA-DUM-DUM dear old Dad John Zatara! How many times is Zatanna going to face off against her dead father? It doesn’t help when your main character is a magician who has to resort to speaking spells backwards to drag the story down further. When used sparingly, it is tolerable, but to have a whole comic like this is frustrating since every other spell is “dleihs em” or “tcetorp em.” I was ready to say “wercs siht” midway through the issue.
The real detractor to the story is the art team which just seems like a wrong fit for this title and the mood you would expect it to have. Stephane Roux does a decent enough job but when coupled with colorist John Kalisz it all comes across as to cartoon-like for what I would want from a title like this. In my mind this book should have a darker feel and a more detailed style of pencils. You want to set the ambiance with a grittier visual presentation that will give the reader a sense of fear. For me, that is what this book should strive to be--something almost on the fringe of horror as the character herself is a magician and expectedly would have to deal with the dark and frightening elements that would fall in perfectly with the horror genre.
As it is I just can’t whole heartedly invest into the solo adventures of Zatanna despite the fact that I really do like the character herself. Dini is a good enough writer to be able to work out the few kinks I found in this offering. He needs to better utilize the magical aspect of the spells and the accompanying incantations primarily. Personally, I think someone along the lines of a Grant Morrison would have much better success with this type of book. However, I do think there needs to be an artistic change though to make this a premier book. I do know that the next couple of issues at least will have a different artist. I sincerely hope that they can find the appropriate tone. Right now I am sticking with this solely for the fact that I am fascinated with Zatanna Zatara. If things stay this stagnant much longer I will be jumping ship faster then you can say “ominoreg!”
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