If you missed my review of Zatanna, Issues #1 – 3 you can use that hyperlink to get caught up.

So, the last story-arc of DC Comic’s Zatanna was enough to get me interested and returning as a reader. As I mentioned in my last review the wrap-up seemed rushed but overall I enjoyed both the story and art. I wasn’t sure what to expect of the next storyline, but Issue #4 was able to keep my faith and raise the stakes.

The cover to my copy of Zatanna #4 by DC Comics.

Just as Issue #1 of Paul Dini’s premier story-arc hit the  ground running, so does this one. We start out in the middle of the cover-advertised battle with the Royal Flush Gang high above Sin City. Zatanna has come to Las Vegas to perform for the opening of Sonny Raymond’s newest casino, and after Zatanna’s victory Raymond takes no time in asking out the lovely sorceress. However, as our heroine accepts his offer for dinner and leaves to rehearse Raymond reveals his intentions were not entirely pure; he is in league with Mammom, Hell’s Lord of Avarice. If he delivers his headline act to Mammom he gets to stay on Earth and avoid a long-ago-made contract, and Zatanna gets a stay in the hot suite as one of Mammon’s baubles.

Forever.

Issue #4 is jam-packed with all sorts of fun. Chad Hardin draws Zatanna beautifully, although a face here-or-there seems to not actually be looking at what the character is addressing. But there is so much going on in the issue that is drawn perfectly that I won’t dwell on any faults; I LOVE Zatanna’s boots from page 14 onward. The battle above the Las Vegas strip is dramatic and easy to follow, and the unwanted party-goers at Zatanna’s hotel room are sexy and full of energy.

The best part about the art starts at the unexpected party Zatanna finds in her room. The tired performer just wants to sleep before her show, but instead find noise and drunken 20somethings thanks to her cousin Zachary. Transformation fans will want to look for the “sequence” of three bitchy women turned to doves. The scene where Zach’s assistant comes out of the shower in nothing but a towel and is clothed by Zatanna’s magic is nice, but it is the attack by a trio of fire demonesses at the end of the issue that takes the cake. Their firey forms, complete with flame bikinis, are beautifully rendered and quite sexy.

And yeah, that was all in Issue #1! New town, new villain(s), new stage crew, new family member, and new cliffhanger all in one issue! Whew!

The cover to my copy of Zatanna #5 by DC Comics.

After Zatanna deals with the three fire women at the start of Issue #5 things slow down a bit. We get a chance to look into her childhood with Zach and learn that, surprise surprise, her stage magician kin is jealous of her success and upset that she’s never seen one of his shows. After promising she’ll attend Zach’s late show that evening everyone goes their own way and we get to catch up with the villains.

Fans of the grotesque may enjoy scenes where Mammon possesses many of the casino patrons, affixing his ugly pierced head atop a busty waitress and some scantily clad ladies among others. Later on Raymond calls forth all the zombified employees and wives he has sent to Mammon over the years, and we have some undead showgirls and skanks attacking our poor Zatanna. Oh, and before all that Mammon dropped his failed firey female enforcers into a pit of lava. Good times.

Fans of mind control will get a kick out of the conclusion to Issue #5 when Zatanna gets love potioned and her internal monologue keeps commenting on her actions under the spell. The end of the issue leaves us wondering if our lovely sorceress will be leaving Vegas married.

The cover to my copy of Zatanna #6 by DC Comics.

Issue #6, moodily drawn now by Jesus Saiz, wraps up everything…well, mostly everything. Let me just say now; SPOILERS!

Zach shows up and interrupts Raymond’s wedding plans, and together the Zatara cousins battle Raymond and Mammon. Raymond has been sacrificing women and workers to extend his life on Earth since Zatanna’s father was touring, and his failure to wed Zatanna before midnight means his time is up. While Mammon is trapped under some wreckage Raymond begs the lady Zatara cousin to turn him into something soulless to avoid Hell’s fury. After some pause Zatanna does so, turning him into a lump of gold. As a token of greed Mammon finds it pleasing and leaves the magic wielders. Zatanna and Zach happily saunter off and Zatanna finally sees her cousin’s show.

Happy ending, right?

Well, as much as I loved this storyline – and feel it is superior to Issues #1-3 – that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have some faults.

We were introduced to entirely new characters for the stage crew…or at least they were characters who were only in the background of the last issue. They were cool and all, but I think Mikey is only in one panel. For a while I thought Zatanna had fired her workers and hired new ones. It was a little disconcerting.

Zach’s assistant/lover Bunny is creepily similar to Zatanna. I understand that in show biz like this the outfits don’t differ much, but she even has the same hair color and cut. And since they were clearly getting it on in Zatanna’s hotel room, well…for a minute I thought Zach had a few screwed up fantasies.

And what about all the innocent people Raymond damned to Hell? Is no one going to look into that? We just spared Raymond his punishment but overlooked all the lives he destroyed? Really?

And finally, the biggest issue that a character like Zatanna will always have; she made some dumb choices with her magic. When you can literally say anything and have it happen, wouldn’t you have a few regular go-to spells for overwhelming situations? At one point our saucy sorceress is being held down and threatened with a potion. When she gets the chance to speak, instead of sending herself to her hotel room or clearing out everyone around her, she simply turns the potion to water – and gets defeated because she’s still held down. I have a lot of respect for Zatanna and her intelligence, and I feel that given the circumstances she was in she would have done something more big picture. I know that her powers make the plot difficult sometimes, but it would be a boon to give reason when she uses her powers with such shortsightedness.

THE FINAL VERDICT: Definitely Pick It Up

I know I ranted a little there, but don’t get me wrong; Issues #4, 5, and 6 are a great fun to read. The story moves along, the art is sexy, and there are some great transformation moments. It really is a read worth reading, and I tip my top hat to Paul Dini for bringing this series to us.