It’s difficult to pull off magic characters with comic fans.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But it rarely works long term. Dr Strange, Dr Fate, Captain Marvel… they’re always around, but outside of Vertigo, it almost never sticks around.
I think the issue is really that Magic takes you more into realms of fantasy, whereas most mainstream comics keep one foot in science fiction. Of course the reason Vertigo works so well with things like Sandman and Fables is that it attracts a more open audience seeking something different.
So that’s what I’m going to suggest with Zatanna. This pitch is going to need to be able to go to all corners of weirdness, and with that costume, I’m not certain why they’ve never told an adult story before.
The Writer: Warren Ellis - few people do weird, abstract tales better than Ellis. Most would suggest Grant Morrison, but I’m a little sick of him, and he already had his Zatanna series which I’m partially basing this concept on.
The artist: Michael Gaydos. He had a short run on the perpetually cancelled Manhunter series (which was beneath him), but aside from that, we haven’t seen the talented Mr Gaydos on a monthly since Alias (RIP) ended. His character work is fantastic and distinctive, but it’s never clean, and that’s what I want here. I want this tale to be dirty.
The costume: I like the cabaret fishnets, but I think she could use a slight revamp. Nothing as drastic as that hideous purple outfit, though. Maybe get rid of the top hat and put on a fedora, maybe something leather and lace for the top. There’s always been an air of goth to Zatanna, so let’s embrace that.
The Pitch: One of the reasons that Zatanna has never been fully embraced is her powers. First, they’re ill-defined. What’s her limits? Is she on the same level as Fate or the Phantom Stranger? Secondly- the backwards talk is stupid. It makes no sense. I mean, let’s say you’re Ollie Queen, and you’re hanging out with your hot friend and she tells you all you have to do to use magic is speak backwards… what are the odds you would spend the next 3 months at the Playboy mansion saying “Em Tnoum!” It’s both moronic and annoying. So here’s the sitch. Zatanna’s powers begin to fade. The tenth age of magic is slowly stealing her backwards magic. Zatanna has sixth months before her power fades, and to top it off an old enemy from her past is stalking her. So she does the only thing she can do. She runs.
This series would explore the darkest corners of the DCU’s magic. Phantom Stranger, Dr Fate, the Spectre, John Constantine, Wonder Woman (no reason the regular DCU can’t cameo) perhaps even the House of Secrets or Morpheus- she’ll go there. Zatanna will find a new source of power (NO MORE BACKWARDS TALK) or she’ll die trying.
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