It’s a classic love story. I walk into the comic shop for the hundredth time. I talk to friends, I tell some jokes, I pick up some books. I’m getting ready to leave when something catches my eye. I can’t say what it is, exactly, that makes me turn around and look back, but something does. And that’s when we see each other: me and a poster promoting the upcoming Seven Soldiers of Victory miniseries, featuring Ryan Sook’s fantastic Zatanna cover art. It’s love at first sight.
Now, to clarify, that story is by and large a complete and utter lie, and is in fact my way of saying that I’ve always had something of a crush on Zatanna. She was one of the first comic characters to whom I was exposed, and her unique set of powers that offer some interesting possibilities. She has a simple design and a sense of fun about her that a lot of characters lack, and, as I mentioned last year, I love the magic side of DC and Marvel… even when it’s being what could charitably be called an abusive partner. So I was of course understandably excited when it was announced that Paul Dini would helm a Zatanna solo ongoing (even though I secretly wished it were Grant Morrison).
Fast forward about 8 months and here we are! With Stephane Roux on art, we launch into Zatanna #1. Roux provides crisp, stylish art and seems to be a good fit, because while the action sequences are never quite as visceral as they might be with most books, they are enjoyable and coherent, and that’s harder than it might sound with a character like Zatanna. Roux does some excellent design work, particularly when it comes to the mystical gathering at Brother Night’s bar.
Dini’s story seems, thus far, to be fairly boilerplate. Zatanna is called in by the San Francisco police after a gruesome mass murder is revealed to have mystical underpinnings. Here, however, Dini cleverly zigs, and has Zatanna solve the crime almost instantly. Bad guy in sight, she charges into his lair and lays down the law with heavy-handed, over-reaching authority. But what the plot lacks in originality it makes up for in solid character moments, blending action, comedy and drama in pleasant moderation. As opening issues go, Zatanna #1 sets up a potential supporting cast member, some possible future villains, and a pretty immediate conflict, and it does so without ever breaking stride or dropping us in multi-age expository sequences, which makes it a winner under any circumstances.
– Cal Cleary