Zatanna Zatara: syek eht

by Blaise Tassone

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Here are some little known facts about the Magic-using DC heroine known as Zatanna. Fact number one: Zatanna’s father, and so the ‘Zatara’ brand, premiered in Action Comics #1 at the same time as Superman (but in a different story). Fact number two: in the comics, she almost dated Bruce Wayne, and was romantically involved with John Constantine, and fact number three: Zatanna may soon be appearing on the big-screen.

Well, the last fact is more speculation than anything like an established certainty and, at this point (after a major Warner Bros. announcement the other day) is probably quite well-known by fans of comic culture.

So why the sudden interest in the Zatanna character at the moment?

My guess, this follows on the strong focus currently being lavished on female heroes. The market for female super-hero movies (as originally tapped big-time by Wonder Woman) is strong and growing.

If a Zatanna film happens, big ‘if’ I know, this may actually occur only after a ‘testing of the waters’, i.e. as happened with Wonder Woman’s appearance in ‘Batman v. Superman’. Having Zatanna appear in another film (‘Justice League Dark’ anyone?) would certainly be one way to test audience reactions and gauge her appeal.

However, much like the rumored stand-alone Zatanna film, major projects involving her and other DC characters have been mostly talk and do not seem to be forthcoming any time soon.

Still, just in case a project featuring Zatanna happens, what comics should we focus on?

Hawkman #4 (October 1964) – First appearance of Zatanna; Origin of Zatanna

This is Zatanna’s very first appearance after she is introduced as searching for her father Zatara who has gone missing. Giovanni (or John) Zatara was a stage magician who also happened to be a real magic user. Created by Fred Guardineer in 1938, his daughter Zatanna appeared years later in this Silver Age Hawkman story by Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson. Originally, just like her father, Zatanna was an amateur magician with the gimmick of casting spells by talking backwards. If any Zatanna project happens, this is the key of keys- her first appearance. Luckily this comic is not difficult to find, but obtaining it in high grade is another story. A 9.6 (highest known extant grade) just sold on Comic Connect for a solid $9, 422.00. Best returns have also been on 9.6 grades with a positive +139% roi after 7 recorded sales over the last 15 years.


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The Atom #19 (June 1965) – First Zatanna Cover Appearance

For those who follow these things this issue of The Atom is Zatanna’s first cover appearance. This comic can be picked up for far less than Hawkman #4, with a mid-grade certified copy still far below $100.00 in price. As in the case of Hawkman #4, however, the highest known grades are 9.6. Unlike Hawkman #4, the last recorded sale of a 9.6 went for a mere $1, 400.00 on Comic Link auction in August 2018.







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Flash #198 (June 1970) – First Zatanna Backup Solo Story

Zatanna is probably (and after her father’s tragic death) one of the most powerful sorceresses in the DCU. Although not at the level of Wonder Woman foe Circe or Madame Xanadu, she is nonetheless formidable. Like with other magical characters, however, stand-alone stories were rare and usually subordinated to more straightforward super-hero tales. In the case of Zatanna, her first stand-alone story appears as a short back-up feature in Flash #198. Fairly easy to find and quite affordable. Three 9.8 certifications of this comic are recorded and this book is even easier to obtain in 9.6 in which grade -if you’re lucky- it can still be found for under $200.00. That may change soon however, since even 9.0’s have recently gone up and are selling for well over $100.00 giving them a positive +158.8% roi during the last three years.





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DC Super Stars #11 (January 1977)– Zatanna Solo Stories Begin

Only 50 of these are recorded on the CGC census. This comic is currently overshadowed by its more successful cousin: DC Super Stars #17, which features the debut of another female hero, the Huntress of Earth Two (Helena Wayne). In my humble opinion the success of #17 is all the more reason to seek this book out. If a Zatanna movie happens, this comic may well take-off and you won’t want to get left behind. Currently you can find this in certified 9.6 grade for around $200.00. If a 9.8 becomes available that can probably be had for around $400.00. Compare that to DC SS #17 where 9.8 currently has a FMV of $675.00.






Honorable Mentions: Regular Zatanna back up features were begun in the Supergirl solo comic of the 1970s. Starting with issue #5, Zatanna appeared fairly regularly in that short run. Also notable, and a much better early cover appearance, pre-dating Zatanna’s Flash solo-story, can be found in Justice League of America #51 (February 1967).

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