Sunday, February 3, 2013

I Reads You Review: ZATANNA: Everyday Magic

DC COMICS/Vertigo - @DCComics

WRITER: Paul Dini
ARTIST: Rick Mays
COLORS: Brian Miller
LETTERS: Comicraft
COVER: Brian Bolland
48pp, Color, $5.95 U.S., $9.95 CAN

Zatanna Zatara, better known as simply, “Zatanna,” is a DC Comics character. Created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Murphy Anderson, Zatanna first appeared in Hawkman Vol. 1 #4 (October–November 1964). She is the daughter of the character, Zatara (Giovanni “John” Zatara), and like her father, she is both a stage magician and a real magician.

Published by Vertigo, the DC Comics’ imprint, Zatanna: Everyday Magic is a 2003 stand-alone, one-shot comic book from writer Paul Dini and artist Rick Mays. Everyday Magic finds Zatana in sort of a career and midlife crisis. For one thing, she wants more name recognition for her show; after all, she is a real magician using real magic, and not a stage magician wowing the audience with illusions and tricks.

Meanwhile, back in her home base of San Francisco, ex-lover John Constantine has run afoul of Nimue Ravensong, a Goth girl and user of some edgy, dark magic. Now suffering from one hell of a curse, Constantine is crashing on Zatanna’s couch and crashing her attempt at a new love life with Hal Cook, the regular guy who’s fallen under her spell.

At the time he probably pitched Zatanna: Everyday Magic, Paul Dini, an Emmy-winning writer of animated television programs, was a marquee writer. He perhaps could have gotten just about any comic book project that he proposed published. He was (and still is), after all, also an acclaimed comic book scribe.

Well, Zatanna: Everyday Magic is just about anything. It pretends to be a supernatural romantic comedy, or supernatural romance and comedy, or comic romance. However, it isn’t really romantic, but it is mildly amusing in the way mediocre, average, and/or harmless comedies are. As romantic leads, not one character in this trite concoction has any spark. In fact, Dini can add this nugget to his trophy shelf of achievements: he’s actually made Constantine boring, a witless fan-fiction version of a character who almost always has spark.

If you mixed some lolicon with the way Matt Wagner drew his early Grendel comic books, you’d have Rick Mays’ art for Zatanna: Everyday Magic. This chunky, cutesy style must be appropriate for something, but Mays’ art is just as clueless as Dini’s story. Brian Miller’s robotic coloring is pointless.

Even Brian Bolland’s cover is bland, which is shocking considering all the stunning cover images that Bolland has produced for American comics book over the better part of the last 30 years.

I don’t know why I bought this comic book, Zatanna: Everyday Magic, some 10 years ago. I recently found it while looking through a box of unread stuff. There are a few nice moments, so I finally extracted some of my $5.95 out of it.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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