Posts tagged ‘Zatanna’

Detective 557 – Batman sits in a hospital room, and Green Arrow helps defend the temple

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Detective 557 (Dec. 85) follows the big battle between Catwoman and Nocturna, in a story by Moench and Colan.

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And though Nocturna and the Night Slayer are still on the loose, Batman spends this story sitting by Selina’s bedside in the hospital.

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Robin returns to the cave, and in a slight allusion to the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Justice League try to contact Batman.  The Martian Manhunter, Elongated Man and Zatanna cameo.

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The Night Slayer is left pretty much free to keep killing the former members of Nocturna’s gang, and still aims to kill Nocturna herself.  Batman and Catwoman are too busy professing their love for each other to care.

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Cavalieri, Moore and Patterson conclude Green Arrow’s team-up with Onyx in this issue.

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Although I really love the art on this story, the tale itself just doesn’t warrant the length, to me.  But there are great scenes along the way, as Arrow and Onyx defend the temple.

 

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Detective 355 – Batman vs the Hooded Hangman, and Elongated Man meets Zatanna

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Such a powerful cover for Detective 355 (Sept. 66). The actual story, by John Broome, Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella, is acceptable, but the Hooded Hangman is clearly a one-shot villain.

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The Hooded Hangman is a successful pro wrestler, whose identity is unknown.

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One night, responding to an alarm, Batman sees the Hangman running from the scene, and they fight.  Batman realizes the Hangman was innocent, but there in order to fight.  He knocks Batman out, and almost succeeds in removing his mask before others show up and he flees.

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After some more fighting, Batman recognizes the bruises on the newscaster’s face as ones he would have left on the Hangman. I always laugh envisioning a newscaster on the air with massive bruises, as if nothing was wrong.

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So Batman gets into the public fight Hangman wants, and allows himself to be defeated and unmasked, because he has made himself up as the newscaster.  Tables turned, and the newscaster is exposed as the Hangman.  End of story.

As I said, definitely a one-shot villain, but such a compelling cover.  I believe it to be the inspiration behind the creation of Bane.

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Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino share this story, the penultimate chapter in Zatanna’s quest for her missing father, which had run through a number of DC comics.

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Ralph gets involved when he sees stolen jewels flying through the air, and is unable to stop the thieves flying with them.

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It turns out Zatanna was responsible, trying to find the last artifacts she was looking for.  Zatanna pretends not to know the thieves are thieves, but she was working with them, and desperate, so I’m pretty sure she is lying about that.  At any rate, she helps Ralph round them up.

Zatanna then prepares to cast a spell that will take her to another dimension in search of Zatara.  Ralph offers to help, but she insists she will do it alone.

As it turns out, in her next appearance, in Justice League of America a few months down the road, she does call on Ralph, as well as the other heroes she encountered on her quest, for help.

 

Detective 336 – Batman under a witch’s curse, and the Elongated Man in a trap for the Flash

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Batman and Robin deal with a broomstick riding witch in Detective 336 (Feb. 65), a Fox/Moldoff/Giella tale.

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Batman and Robin are called to a robbery, where the witch announces that she will be removing their senses one at a time as the evening, and her crime spree, progress.

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And that’s essentially what happens, though the two heroes always manage to prevail.

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Robin is the one to figure out that the broomstick is the actual source of her powers, and unseats her, freeing Batman from her spell.

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The whole thing turns out to be a ploy by the Outsider, who brags at the end to Batman.

Later continuity would add even more to this story, when it was revealed that the witch was actually Zatanna, in disguise and under the thrall of the Outsider.

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The Elongated Man gets to penetrate a house of traps set for the Flash in this Fox story, with art by Infantino and Greene.

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Ralph and Sue are on their way to Central City to visit Barry and Iris, when Ralph is alerted to a house rigged up by Mirror Master.  Sue goes off to lunch with Iris while Ralph navigates through the various traps, finding the man running it while Mirror Master is away.

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It turns out Flash chose to leave the house to Ralph, rather than dealing with it after he defeated Mirror Master, because he figured Ralph would enjoy it.  And, he did.  That’s a true buddy.

The story ends with the two couples going out for a refined dinner.

Adventure 421 – Zatanna ends

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Zatanna’s run in Adventure comes to a close with a mediocre tale in issue 421 (July 1972) by Steve Skeates and Win Mortimer.

She encounters an aging stage magician who has lost his faith in himself, and who is being pursued by the mob.  Exactly why they are after him is never addressed, or even treated as something unusual.  Mobsters are always trying to kill magicians, it seems.

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Zatanna rescues him from an attack, but then sets up a situation where he can rescue her.  Not that he saves her with real magic, or even a magic trick, just by pushing away a falling pillar.

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Nevertheless this act restores his confidence, and Zatanna goes on her merry way, completely convinced that the old magician will be able to take out the rest of the gang when they come after him.

Can’t help feeling that her confidence in this was misplaced, and the old guy got fed to the fishes an hour or so after the story ended.

Zatanna’s back-up feature moves with Supergirl when she gets her own series in a couple of months.

Adventure 419 – Supergirl’s bad boyfriend returns, Black Canary ends, and Zatanna faces Gorgonus

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Mike Merrick returns in Adventure 419 (May 1972), with a new girlfriend in an unusual, and surprisingly sad, story by John Albano, with art by Tony de Zuniga and Bob Oskner.

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Supergirl battles magical threats, and the reader discovers that these have been created by Lorelei, Mike Merrick’s new girlfriend, to divert Supergirl and keep her from tracking him down.

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It’s a bit of overkill, really, as Supergirl has shown no inclination to find Mike over the last 6 months since he appeared, but he calls her and informs her of what has been going on.  This phone call is the only contact Supergirl and Merrick have in the entire story, never even sharing a scene together, but the story works extremely well despite this.

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Remorseful and self-loathing, Mike kills himself and Lorelei in a car accident.  Supergirl is informed of his death, and comments that he “escaped from a world in which he never quite belonged.”  There is an absence of sappiness in this tale that makes it genuinely touching.

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Black Canary’s 2-parter by Denny O”Neil and Alex Toth concludes in this issue, as she wakes to find herself bound and at the mercy of the gang she helped train.

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While I kind of hate the fact that she only finds the strength to fight back from this situation by remembering advice from Green Arrow, I can’t fault the beauty of Toth’s art on the flashback.

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And fight back she does, defeating the gang, and at the end discovering that it was all a plot to free Catwoman, in a surprising cameo.  It’s a nice touch, but does make one wish that there had been some bigger scene between the Cat and the Canary.

Black Canary’s next solo series is in World’s Finest Comics in the late 70s.

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Zatanna returns in this issue, in a story that is sort of an epilogue to her earlier adventure, written by Len Wein with great art by Dick Giordano.

While rehearsing for a new act, Gorgonus suddenly appears, having been expelled from his dimension as an unwitting side effect of the spell Zatanna used to help her and Jeff escape.

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She defeats the monster  by subterfuge rather than magic, tricking him into staring into a mirror, which turns him into stone.

Adventure 415 – Zatanna finds Zatara

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Adventure 415 (Feb 72) has the climax to this tale by Len Wein and Gray Morrow.  Zatanna uses her spells to return Jeff to human form, and take them back to New York City.

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They discover Zatara running rampant in the city, having conjured up dragons.

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Father and daughter battle, and Zatanna wins, but Zatara was not quite himself.  He had been possessed by Allura, the sorceress/demon who had possessed him back in the story that first introduced Zatanna back in the 60s.

 

Adventure 414 – Zatanna meets Gorgonus

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Adventure 414 (Jan 72) has the second part of Len Wein and Gray Morrow’s Zatanna story, as she and Jeff wake to find themselves prisoners of Varnu, the king of the other-dimensional world.

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He brings Zatanna and Jeff to the Tower of the Dead, forcing them to enter, though never explaining exactly what he intends of them.

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They encounter the monster Gorgonus, whose gaze turns Jeff to stone.

 

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