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Superhero Origins: Zatanna

VO: Dan Paradis
The bewitching magician named Zatanna first arrived in 1964. She was searching for her father, who had mysteriously disappeared years earlier. While the story didn't explain her origin, it was clear that Zatanna had inherited her father's proficiency with magic. With help from other super-heroes, Zatanna eventually found him. It turned out that he had been banished to another world, and it then became clear to Zatanna that she had inherited her magical ability from her sorceress mother. Join WatchMojo.com as we explore the comic book origins of Zatanna. Special thanks to our user Marco Rosato for submitting the idea on our WatchMojo.comsuggest page!
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Transcript
Script written by Craig Butler.

Superhero Origins: Zatanna


Sometimes, getting things backwards has surprisingly good results. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we will explore the comic book origin of Zatanna.

As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginations and different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen primarily to follow the storyline which unfolded in 1979’s Justice League of America #163-165 and which was expanded upon in 1988’s Secret Origins #27 and 2012's Justice League Dark #0.

The bewitching magician named Zatanna appeared from out of nowhere in 1964's Hawkman #4. It was quickly revealed that this young mistress of magic was the daughter of Zatara, a powerful magician who debuted along with Superman in the first issue of Action Comics. Zatanna was searching for her father, who had mysteriously disappeared years earlier. While the story didn't explain her origin, it was clear that Zatanna had inherited her father's proficiency with magic. Like Zatara, she controlled the forces of magic by speaking her spells backwards.

With help from other super-heroes, Zatanna eventually found her father, who had been banished to another world. But what of Zatanna's mother? In a 1979 Justice League of America storyline, readers learned that Zatanna's mother had died in a car crash soon after her daughter's birth – or had she?

It turned out that Zatanna's mother, Sindella, was a magical being from another dimension. She was a member of homo magi, a race of magical humans that had initially developed alongside homo sapiens. Sindella came to Zatara's aid when he was battling an almost invincible foe; the two fell in love immediately. When Sindella was seemingly killed sometimes later, Zatara.

Except that she wasn't killed. Sindella's death was faked so that she could return to the homo magi and could fulfill her predestined role with her people. Zatara and Zatanna attempted to bring her back, but Sindella sacrificed herself to save her daughter in an ensuing battle with The Hidden Ones.

With this expansion of Zatanna's origin, it became clear that she had inherited magical ability from both her human father and her sorceress mother. As far as magic power was concerned, she had the best of both worlds.

Zatanna's origin was revised somewhat in a 1988 issue of Secret Origins. In this issue, an epic battle between the evil wizard Felix Faust and the good wizard Doctor Mist resulted in Doctor Mist being given almost godlike powers. In this version, Mist controlled major historical events – including setting Zatara on the path that led him to magic. He also arranged for Zatara to meet Sindella, and later for Zatanna to take part in various events that gave her the training she needed to become an incredibly powerful mage.

Yet at the end of the story, it was revealed that Doctor Mist had gone mad. It seemed that perhaps all his claims of controlling events were the ravings of a mad man, leaving the validity of this story somewhat uncertain.

There have been minor additions to Zatanna's background through the years. For example, Zatanna and Bruce Wayne knew each other as children. Zatanna also had a rather notorious romantic past with the occult detective John Constantine.

A 2012 storyline delved a bit into Zatanna's relationship with Constantine. It also revealed that both she and Constantine were mentored by Nick Necro, an immensely powerful sorcerer. Zatanna and Constantine earned Necro's undying hatred when they began their romance.

As a powerful wizard and magician, Zatanna has a laundry list of spells and abilities. She can manipulate objects, the elements and even space and time. On top of this she can heal the injuries of others, grow to great size or turn potentially dangerous objects, like knives or bullets, into harmless things. Essentially, her powers and abilities are only limited by the creativity and will of whoever’s writing her story at the time.

Regardless, with her mastery of magic, Zatanna often makes for a fascinating character. She has stepped out of the pages of the comic books and into several TV series over the years. With her ability to materialize anywhere at will, there's no telling where she may pop up next.

Are you a fan of Zatanna? For more comic book origins, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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