Friday, May 21, 2010

Zatanna #1

It's been a really long time since I was a regular reader of a DC universe ongoing title; other than my brief stint following Detective Comics starring Batwoman, I think the end of the fairly short run of The Monolith in 2005 was the last time I picked up a DCU book every month. In recent years, the continuity on those books has only gotten tighter and more tied up with endless crossovers, and constant creative-team changes mean that taking a risk on picking up a book is likely not to pay off anyway. (I did pick up two issues of the recently launched Azrael series because I like Fabian Nicieza's writing, and it didn't really grab me. But Nicieza was dumped after nine issues anyway.)

But something about this new series starring magical hero Zatanna sparked my interest, and I decided to give it a shot. The first issue is nothing groundbreaking, but it's a solid, well-paced superhero story that gives a quick introduction to who Zatanna is and what she's about while also setting up a clear conflict and a menacing villain. As far as I could tell, it's not connected in any way to any big event story past or future, and in fact requires no knowledge of any other DC character or series in order to make sense of it.

That's fairly faint praise, and I certainly wasn't blown away. But given how many current mainstream superhero comics start by assuming you have read the set-up in five other series already (Azrael did this), the fact that I could jump right into the story easily was a big deal. I also immediately liked Zatanna as a character; DC has a better track record with strong female solo heroes than Marvel does, and this seems to fit into the same tradition as the DC superhero book I stuck with the longest, Peter David's Supergirl. Writer Paul Dini has been talking about doing this book for a long time, and he clearly has great affection for and interest in Zatanna, and it seems like that will be explored in issues to come.

The art by Stephane Roux is also excellent, detailed and dynamic but also clear and concise (and it makes Zatanna look quite sexy). If DC can manage to keep this creative team together for a while, and not drag the book into a bunch of drawn-out crossovers that never end, I might just be a regular DC reader for the first time in quite a while.

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