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Zatanna: Everyday Magic By Matt Martin
DC Comics/Vertigo Ė Paul Dini (w); Rick Mays (a)
I have this suspicion that Paul Dini only accepted this book because of the similarity that his name has to Houdini. But anyway.
Zatanna, on a whirlwind tour to appease her legion of fans and keep the pockets of her agent lined with folding green, returns home to the city she claims as her own, San Francisco. As if her irritations with Tony Bennett (who pulls down more money per show than she does, hence the irritation) and her seemingly hapless love life werenít enough, she finds a naked, drunken John Constantine passed out on her bed. A John Constantine who has grown a moaning, whining mouth on his hand (yeah, you read that right).
Constantine, it seems, has had a passing encounter with an acquaintance of Zatannaís, a goth girl turned mystical dabbler named Nimue Ravensong (whose real name is Mary Jane Hoyt, a subject of some relevance later on) and, as a result, picked up a rather nasty curse (as opposed to just v. d., I guess), a human mouth on his hand that cries out nigh-constantly for its other half. The other half is a demonic entity that is bound, by enchantment, to seek out his payment in exchange for magical favors given to Nimue. Solving her former loverís dilemma proves to be more hassle than Zatanna anticipates, however.
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Everyday Magic, to be perfectly honest, is just plain cute. I question whether or not the Vertigo imprint was really a necessity, since editing out the little bits of profanity and nudity that the book has would have basically made it safe for publication under the mainstream DC Universe banner. But in any case, Dini does a nice job of both re-establishing who Zatanna is (and, by corollary, where she got her powers and why she does what does) and ripping out an entertaining story. He touches on elements of Vertigoís backstory, referencing the encounter Constantine had at Club Bewitched involving Tim Hunter in Neil Gaimanís original Books of Magic miniseries (where Zatanna saved their collective ass). And while the bookís moral feels a little shoe-horned in (namely, that Zatanna simply cannot stomach an everyday life, because she isnít an everyday person), itís hard to criticize it, because the book is possessed with an unflaggingly light-hearted tone and never takes itself too seriously.
Dini does not, however, explain the burning question thatís been on my mind since I learned who Zatanna is: why is it that the magic of simply saying what you want backwards only works for Zatanna? But when you weigh that complaint against the fact that heís turned out an entertaining (if overpriced) one-shot story about a seldom-used character, itís hard to complain.