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DC’s sorceress supreme makes her triumphant return to the Player Affinity stage! You’ll be shocked! You’ll be amazed! Zatanna will perform her greatest magical feat of all: genuine improvement in writing! That’s right, you heard it here first folks – Zatanna #16 makes a strong return to form for the series. If you read my review for Zatanna #14, then you’ll know that I was disappointed with a stand-alone story interrupting Paul Dini’s well-crafted, on-going story. You might also recall that I was less than impressed with writer Adam Beechen’s single issue story. Well, if that was the definition of bad filler, then Beechen has redeemed himself with an issue that clearly defines good filler.
Zatanna #16 gives us the story of one rough, sleep-deprived night in the life of our favorite lady to wear fishnets and a top hat both on stage and while fighting supervillains. The bulk of the story revolves around a bit of a home invasion by the magical Uriah, Limbo Town resident and Eddie Munster cosplayer. Dude waltzes in like he owns the place under the pretense of seeking tutelage in sorcery, only to wander off and steal a book containing all the secrets of reality and dimensions. Zatanna proceeds to literally chase after the punk through dimensions in a sequence that’s like watching Sliders on fast forward. I don’t think I’m spoiling anything when I say that eventually the kid gets caught and our heroine gets her way in the end. That is really all that happens, but, like any journey worth taking, it’s how you get there that matters.
The sense of fun that Beechen hinted at, but failed to deliver in Zatanna #14, is on full display here. Narration is handled in a third-person style that feels like the author is telling a fable, which lends itself well to the insincerity of the narrated events. There is a recurring joke about Zatanna’s recurring dream that just barely avoids being overused and the book does not lack for humorous lines besides. I assumed that geese were stupid and had no appreciation for cocoa butter, but it’s nice to know for certain.
Victor Ibanez’s art is to be commended, as well. His has a clean style that reminds me of the pulp comics of yore. The aforementioned chase scene is visually impressive and the splash pages, while used sparingly, are done so to great effect. If you are any kind of bibliophile, you will likely find the view of Zatanna’s library to be as gorgeous as I found it.
There is not much to say about Zatanna #16, except that it is fun and you should probably read it. Ideally, I would like to see a return to Paul Dini and a continuation to the story that began in earlier issues. It is my understanding that Zatanna is not one of the series starting over with a new first issue come September, so I do not know what exactly DC is waiting for in continuing Zatanna’s main story. However, if we have to have stand-alone issues, I certainly hope there will be more like this one.