Zatanna has been locked in a battle with her own fears and the magical machinations of Mr. Hampel, a puppeteer who Zatanna’s father changed into a puppet after committing a crime. Zatanna witnessed the event, but her father mind-wiped her of the event. His actions, and her witnessing of the event, created a deep seated fear of puppets in her. Now that the tables have turned and Zatanna is trapped in puppet form, and at the complete disposal of Hampel, Zatanna’s only hope may come from a very unlikely source…
Paul Dini’s story about our hero’s deep seated fears that relate back to very real world psychological trauma involving father issues, phobias, and help from unlikely sources is overall pretty solid and accomplishes its goal of creating a more human and relatable to Zatanna. There really isn’t anything about the story that is particularly groundbreaking or overtly powerful or mythic in nature. It’s a good story, but hopefully Dini has some stronger ideas for Zatanna stories up his sleeve. Time will tell. Ever since the demise of the late great Madame Xanadu over at Vertigo, fans of DC homo-magi type characters have been looking for a suitable replacement, or the emergence of Xanadu into her own DCU mainstream book. Zatanna has the potential to be such a book, but it’s not there yet.
Something that is there though, and something that I’ve been raving about for some time now, is Jamal Igle’s artwork. Starting with this issue, Igle takes over as the regular series penciller. Igle fans have been waiting anxiously to see new work from him ever since his spectacular run on Supergirl ended recently. Igle defined Supergirl, the character and the book, visually for the 21st Century. While Michael Turner redefined Supergirl, it was Igle who solidified her look, removed the sexpot teen aspect that she began to take on—Igle’s Supergirl looked just like her name, a super girl—and was the most consistent artist on the book. His collaboration with Sterling Gates (another talent whose fans are still awaiting the return of on a regular basis somewhere) on Supergirl was perhaps the greatest run of any artist/writer team our favorite cousin from Krypton ever had in her entire history.
With Zatanna, Igle is getting the chance to expand his talents and show us some things he hasn’t been prone to drawing recently. Full figured women in similar, but much more sexy dress. Zatanna’s costume, while technically covering more skin that Supergirl’s does, is much more of a sexily esoteric outfit. In issue #11 he also gets to have fun drawing a sexed up version of Mikey, Zatanna’s faithful stage hand. Mikey, usually portrayed as a tomboy, vamps it up in order to distract Hample in order to rescue Zatanna from his clutches. It’s a humorous scene, and totally all ages friendly, but Supergirl is no Mikey…at least bodily. It really looks like Igle is going to get to draw some different types of characters than he has in a while and watching him take on a different subject matter—going from sci-fi to magic—is going to be great fun to watch. Zatanna readers and fans of the character are in for a real treat. It looks like Igle is about to do for her what he did for Supergirl.
With Dini, and now Igle, at the helm of Zatanna, we should be in for some great story telling and we are definitely in for some great art. Dini is a proven writer, so he should have some stronger storylines up his sleeve for the upcoming issues of the series. Sometimes it just takes a character a little while to get settled into his or her own solo book. It took Supergirl a while to get settled. With Zatanna we’re halfway there. The art is in place, and Dini should be getting the story in place shortly.