Friday, March 16, 2012

DC's last really interesting concept?

In the '60s DC had this really cool idea. They created a heroine whose job it was was to be rotating guest star. Zatanna was the daughter of 1940s DC B-lister Zatara, a thinly disguised rip-off of King Features' Mandrake the Magician.

Her story was her father went missing, and she would pop up in various DC titles in her quest to find him. Green Lantern would be tracking a bad guy on one mission and he'd run into Zatanna, whose quest intersected GL's plot. Months later The Elongated Man would be working on a case which once again would interconnect with Zatanna. And so on.

This went on until the climax when she teams up with the whole Justice League.

DC later collected these stories in a trade paperback which is a lot of fun (except for the Batman chapter which sucks really bad and doesn't even feature Zatanna. Pick up the book, but skip that chapter).

This remains a great silver age concept: A storyline that took years to tell, but still worked as standalone stories. They don't do that now. Pick up any individual issue of any of DC's constant universe-changing maxi-series and you'll be totally baffled.

I like the picture above because it's sexy without being revealing (do a Google image search for Zatanna and you'll see what I mean), and at first glance an Asian Zatanna takes a minute to absorb, but once you think about it, it's obvious Zatanna should look exotic.

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