So, after the epic four-part extravaganza that was Issues #8-11 I know I wouldn’t want to be the writer who had to follow it. Fortunately Matthew Sturges brings us an interesting tale with a villain who actually poses a threat to any of Zatanna’s powers.

The cover to my copy of Zatanna #12

We first see Zatanna with Mikey (yay, Mikey!) as Zatanna’s stagehand is quizzing her with flashcards. Like any of us Zee doesn’t innately know how to say EVERY word backwards and practices new ones to expand her spell vocabulary. Once she tires of this she decides to take a little flight around San Francisco. While out and about our magician discovers the remains of some slaughtered merpeople. When she magics herself to the one responsible she encounters Backslash and his fairy.

“Backslash” seems to be some hick who managed to find a magic sword and strapped a fairy to it. It allows him to selectively reverse time, meaning all of Zatanna’s spells end up spoken the right-way-around. Even physical attacks and then her attempted retreat are rewound.

After being tied up and hearing Backlsash’s horrible attempts to be the next Eminem the fairy helps Zatanna realize that some fancy worldplay is what she needs to defeat Backslash and send him to jail. I don’t want to give away the solution but I thought it an interesting interpretation of how Zatanna’s powers work and a satisfying resolution to the problem at hand.

THE FINAL VERDICT: Pick it up and enjoy.

As a stand-alone the comic is quite engaging. The story is original and we get to see a little insight into Zatanna’s training. Stephane Roux’s art is great, but at times Zatanna’s face seems a little too impish.

There’re some good bits for fantasy fans. It would be nice if we saw more of the doomed merfolk before Backslash got to them – the most visible one is a merman and the rest are not much more than heads and shoulders above the water. There are some nurse mannequins that run around for a short time, but the best represented fantasy aspect is the enslaved fairy. She has lots of screen time and is the true hero of the issue.

Overall I don’t think the story or art will dissapoint anyone. If you’re looking for transformation on the level of Issues #8-11 you won’t find it, but Issue #12 is still entertaining with a window into Zatanna’s magic prep, fantastic creatures, and beautifully illustrated. I hope you enjoy it.