Zatara & Zatanna

Created by Fred Guardineer • Zatanna by Gardner Fox & Murphy Anderson

NAME + ALIASES:
Giovanni "John" Zatara

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Zatanna Zatara (daughter), Sindella (wife, deceased),

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
All-Star Squadron

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Action Comics #1 (June 1938)

DEATH:
Swamp Thing #50

NAME + ALIASES:
Zatanna Zatara

KNOWN RELATIVES:
John Zatara (father, deceased), Sindella (mother, deceased)

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
Justice League of America, Sentinels of Magic

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Hawkman v.1 #4

History

Giovanni "John" Zatara was born on March 10, 1919. Descended from a long line of magicians and mystics, Zatara also became a powerful mage. At the age of fifteen, he receives a box of magic tricks from his grandfather, and began practicing stage magic. (DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #5, Secret Origins #27) Using only his last name, he became a stage magician and crime fighter and debuted early in the Golden Age of heroes. He was a contemporary of the likes of Dr. Occult and Sargon. (Action #1) He occasionally teamed up with other mystics, and during World War II, he also joined the super-hero community in the All-Star Squadron. (All-Star Squadron #59)

  • Thirty years ago, Zatara met Sindella of the Homo magi race in Turkey. They relocated to America and their daughter, Zatanna, was born within a year. Several months later, Sindella faked her death in a car crash to spare Zatanna from being captured by the Homo magi. (Justice League of America #164)

Zatanna also had a romantic relationship with John Constantine, which began when they first studied magic together. As Zatanna was still a teenager, Zatara always disapproved of this union; he felt his daughter deserved a better, smarter, more heroic man than Constantine. They broke up following an incident in Newcastle, where he destroyed the demon, Nergal with the help of three Angels. After this, Constantine was committed to a mental asylum.

When she was only eighteen years old, Zatanna's father was cursed by an evil elemental known Allura. Since the nature of Allura's curse was such that both Zatanna and Zatara would die if the two ever set eyes on one another again, Zatara decided to leave Earth and travel among various mystical realms in order to protect his daughter. When she noticed her father was missing, however, Zatanna began a lengthy search for him. With the help of the Justice League, Zatanna finally located her father in the mystic dimension of Kharma and helped Allura's heroic counterpart to force her evil twin to remove the curse. (#51)

Zatanna teamed with the JLA several more times (#87, 100) before becoming a member. She joined after helping the JLA battle the War lock of Ys, one of Green Lantern's old nemeses, (Justice League of America #161) and remained a member until just before the Martian Manhunter dissolved the Justice League after Professor Ivo began systematically murdering its members. (#257)

Eventually, Zatanna went in search of her mother as well. She discovered the hidden Homo magi society, who had enslaved Sindella. Sindella committed suicide to destroy in order to save Zatanna from the same fate. (#162-165)

It is said that Zatanna is made up of pure magic, and she is considered one of the most formidable mages on the planet. For a time, she lost a great deal of this power (#191) Just before she left the JLA, Zatanna mystically merged with the "Godhead," the collective consciousness of all beings, living and dead. She believed that this event would change her life forever. Perhaps it did; when she next appeared, it appeared that her magical abilities were back at full strength. (World's Finest #277, Spectre v.2 #7)

Zatanna and her father were part of a large collection of Earth's sorcerers assembled by John Constantine to battle the primordial Shadow Creature that threatened Heaven itself, a battle which cost Zatara his life. (Swamp Thing #50) Zatanna blamed Constantine for Zatara's death and the two parted bitterly. Zatanna also aided the Spectre against the alien sorcerer known as Wotan, (Spectre #7) and battled Felix Faust along side Dr. Mist. (Secret Origins #27)

Zatanna now operates on the fringes of the metahuman world. Although she has returned to active JLA duty, she has occasionally acted in reserve capacity, and she was appointed liaison between the JLA and the Sentinels of Magic. (JLA #68, JLA: Black Batptism #4) She craves the limelight and has built a successful national stage show. At times, she still encounters Constantine, but it is clear that they are now just friends. (Books of Magic v.1, Zatanna: Everyday Magic)

Zatara and Zatanna descend from a distinguished line of ancestors including: Leonardo da Vinci; Nicholas Flamel (who is still alive [JLA Annual #2]; Nostradamus; Cagliostro (a.k.a. Joseph Balsamo, Guiseppe Balsamo, also still alive); Luigi Zatara (grandfather of Zatara) and Evan Fulcanelli (unknown relationship to Zatara, described as an "uncle" of Zatanna, deceased).

Most recently, Zatanna has had a crisis of confidence. She had, in her own words, become a "spellaholic." In a careless moment, she accidentally summoned a malevolent entity named Gwydion. Later, on the Arachne (the secret 13th month on the sorcerers calendar), she and several other magicians met again at the home of Baron Winters. She led this group into the Interreality of Ra, and while in this seance, Gwydion incinerated all her compatriots (Ibis, Taia, Dr. 13 and Timothy Ravenwind). She lost her powers in the process. To deal, she tried a metahuman therapy group. After one meeting she met a girl named Misty, who asked Zatanna to take her on as an apprentice. (Seven Soldiers: Zatanna #1)

Zatanna has also written books. One of her most popular was called Hex Appeal: The Modern Girl's Guide to Magic.

Zatara has made two post-mortem appearances. He appeared in the afterlife to the Starman Jack Knight (Starman v.2 #37) and aided his former lover, Charity, by brining her fiance back to life. (#80)

Notes

The exact date of Zatara's debut is subject to debate. His origin was first told in DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #5 (March 1980), which cites November 14, 1938. The History of the DC Universe #1 confirms the year. Later, Secret Origins #27 retold the origin using the date September 1, 1939.

Exactly when Zatanna regained her powers is debatable. They were back in World's Finest #277 (Mar. 1982). But the letter column of JLofA #260 (Mar. 1987) claims she got them back in Swamp Thing #50 (July 1986). The Justice League Sourcebook states that they returned in JLofA #257.

Zatara also appeared in a pre-Crisis Earth-1 tale where he met the young Clark Kent at age 3 (New Adventures of Superboy #14, 2.81) and later as Superboy (age 16, #49, 1.84)

In the DC/Marvel Amalgam universe cross-over (1996), Wanda Zatara was called the White Witch.

+ Powers

Both Zatara and Zatanna have the power to manipulate magical forces by means of words spoken backwards. (However, this may only be optional in Zatanna's case; she uses that method in honor of her father, and as a concentration aid.) In addition, both Zatara and Zatanna are excellent stage magicians, prestidigitators and escape artists.

Appearances + References

» FEATURED APPEARANCES:

Zatara:

  • Action Comics #1-138, 141 (June 1938–Feb. 1950)
  • World's Best/World's Finest Comics #1–7, 10, 12, 15-16, 19, 23-33 (Spring 1941–Mar./Apr. 1948)
  • Swamp Thing #49-50

Zatanna:

  • Adventure #413-416, 419, 421
  • Atom v.1 #19
  • Detective #355
  • Green Lantern v.2 #42
  • JLA #68, 71, 73, 75
  • JLA/JSA Secret Files
  • JLA/JSA: Virtue & Vice
  • Justice League of America #51, 87, 100-102
  • Secret Origins #27
  • Supergirl v.1 #1-5

» SERIES:

  • Zatanna Special, one-shot (1987; this was originally intended to be a miniseries, and was described as such in JLofA letter columns)
  • Zatanna, 4-issue limited series (1995)
  • Zatanna: Everyday Magic, one-shot (2003)
  • Seven Soldiers: Zatanna, 4-issue limited series (2005)