INFINITY GEMS: Zatanna - Everyday Magic
A series of editorials on “lost” comic book classics, this installment of INFINITY GEMS shines the spotlight on a DC one-shot from 2003 that "Srats eht tseixes sdrawkcab gniklat orehrepus reve!"
Most comic fans know of a story or two that they feel never got the attention or appreciation they deserved. Stories they believe can stand up to the very best tales that a particular character has to offer… or maybe even stand proudly alongside the greatest comics books ever created.
These editorials offer a place for comic fans to talk about the nearly infinite amount of hidden gems that we hold close to our hearts…. Fandom’s INFINITY GEMS.
Zatanna: Everyday Magic One-Shot
Published by DC in 2003
Written by Paul Dini
Art by Rick Mays and Brian Miller
It’s funny how a certain creator’s name on a book can, even without you realizing it, put a set of expectations in your head. When I saw Paul Dini’s name on the cover of ZATANNA: EVERYDAY MAGIC, I suppose I envisioned the tale within would be something like the Zatanna episode of BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. It never crossed my mind that this was Dini writing an actual VERTIGO book.
Needless to say, when John Constantine showed up and f-bombs started dropping and sexiness was suddenly on display… It threw me off a bit. It didn't help that the pencils and inks by Rick Mays have a decidedly cartoonish style to them.
It didn’t take me long to adjust, however, and a lot of that is due to how much fun this book is.
I had only a passing familiarity with Zatanna before this, but what information I had, combined with the design of the character, had definitely spiked my interest. Tempering that, however, was my knowledge that most magic using superhero books tend to be a bit dull. With no set rules established for how magic works in either the DC or MARVEL universes, sorcerer-types tend to have permanent “get-out-of-jail-free” cards for pretty much any situation. Zatanna is certainly no exception, but this one-shot never tries to pretend that she is. The fact that Dini manages to present a story that is still compelling despite that, is really quite impressive.
As is Dini’s awesome characterization of Zatanna. The fun loving gal breezing through life performing magic with a dazzling smile hides the deeper woman beneath: a person of immense power who unfortunately tends to attract equally powerful enemies, and has therefore learned to keep people at an arm’s length.
Supporting Zatanna in this one-shot is the one, the only, John Constantine. While their banter is priceless, John serves the more important purpose of bringing out Zatanna’s hidden self. Constantine knows how powerful she is, and is no slouch in that department himself, therefore Zatanna doesn’t pretend around him. The result is that every scene with Constantine and Zatanna together is both funny and adds a layer of complexity to things, without John ever stealing the show.
The art is a little bit of a mixed bag. Not that the cartoony pencils and inks of Rick Mays (with bright, explosive colors provided by Brian Miller) are ever anything less than awesome. Mays excels at spot on facial expressions and his storytelling skills are superb. However, I think I would have preferred a slightly more realistic artist for this particular story.
That small nitpick aside, and ZATANNA: EVERYDAY MAGIC is a ton of fun. The combination of clever writing and boisterous, vivid visuals results in one of the better magical superhero stories out there.
Links to other INFINITY GEMS articles:
FRIDAY THE 13TH
BATMAN AND THE MONSTER MEN
SPIDER-MAN: THE CHILD WITHIN
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