Being a cosplayer, I take a serious look into what characters I decide to play. I know not all cosplayers are like this, but for me to dress up and walk around as someone else I like to know who I am. That being said, Zatanna is one of my favorite characters to cosplay as. She is your classic minor character, and has been dubbed the “greatest minor character” in the DC Universe. She is in the background and sometimes even in the front of the line, of most major storylines in the DC Universe. Still, people don’t know who she is, as I get questioned why I’m walking around as a magician at a comic book convention, and that makes me a little sad inside. So far with the DC52, there has been glimpses of where Zatanna’s future is going and if the classic magician costume is staying.
Zatanna Zatara is the daughter of magician Giovanni Zatara and Sindella of the Homo Magi race. Homo Magi are a sub-race of the humans who use magic, and hold their own worlds. There are other versions of hers, such as in the Amalgam Comics where she is the White Witch Wanda Zatara, as she is merged with Scarlet Witch of the Avengers. She has also recently appeared in Flashpoint as part of the Secret Seven, which sparked controversy over her new costume.
Zatanna’s powers are not physical. She would be considered a sorceress, which seems to be mainly elemental, but she has proven that she holds some forms of telepathy and telekinesis. Using her sorcery, she is also able to manipulate size (you can see her shrink to the size of Atom at 6 inches tall in one line of comics) and is able to become invulnerable. She does have a weakness though, which is if she can’t focus on her magic. The magic she uses is Mnemonic Incantations, or more commonly known as Backwards Speech. She is seen most vulnerable when casting spells, which Joker took advantage of and shot her, rendering her magic useless. On very rare occasions, she will use Blood Magic, where she will write her spells out in her own blood, but she knows that this is a very dangerous thing to do.
My favorite storyline of Zatanna’s was from 2004, the Identity Crisis. This was a moral comic, where she mind-wipes Dr. Light after he rapes The Elongated Man’s wife. The moral debate came down among the Justice League, if he should remember what he did and what he threatened. The debate was settled, even if the League was split in half, and his mind was erased. This wasn’t an isolated event, as she has also mind-wiped Batman and Catwoman. The mind-wipe of Batman caused him to distrust her, and the mind-wipe of Catwoman caused her to eventually shove a sock in her mouth and push her out a window. This storyline also brought on Zatanna’s 4 issue comic series Seven Soldiers of Victory, where it was a support group of heroes who felt guilty for the things they had done, Zatanna’s being her mind-wipes and things in the very past. Zatanna did leave the Justice League because of these things she did, and became part of the Sentinels of Magic. She eventually came back to the Justice League, only to leave again right before the Blackest Night storyline. You could see her fighting against Despero though.
My least favorite storyline (which is also a storyline that is ignored by most) is when Zatanna dove more into the the Homo Magi side of herself, trying to not do Mnemonic Incantations anymore. It was just a weak storyline, and time proved that as well with it being retconned.
Most people know Zatanna from her relationship with Batman, which they now have mutual retconned backstories to where they are intertwined together. There was a brief period of time where they did consider a romantic relationship (Bruce Wayne as Batman) but decided to go the route of staying just friends. It was later shown that Zatanna still harbored feelings for Bruce, but pushed Catwoman to confess her feelings for him instead, saying it to be in Bruce’s best interest.
I think what drew me the most to Zatanna was her human side. A lot of the heroes in the DC Universe have human reasoning as to why they are doing what they do, but often forget that. Zatanna always seems to remember the human side of things, whether it was from her guilt of the mind-wipes or losing her fathers tomes, that guilt always seems to be a part of her drive.
In the DC52 reboot, Zatanna is back with The Justice League Dark, which includes Deadman, Changing Man, Madame Xanadu, and John Constantine. She does have a costume change, losing the traditional magician costume and going to a fitted corset and low-rise pants, with fishnet gloves. I personally will not be adapting to that change, as when I think of Zatanna I think of a magician. I know a lot of rumblings have been going on with the women of DC, and I’m sure that is a part of it. There is also a graphic novel coming out by Paul Dini and Joe Quinones called ‘Bloodspell’ with Zatanna and Black Canary, which looks like they will be staying true to the Zatanna and Black Canary original looks. Not much has been released on either, but we’ll get a glimpse eventually with the release of the DC52!