Henry Fuseli would be honored, I’m sure. Zatanna’s adversary in this issue is none other than Fuseli. Well sort of. Clearly inspired by the demonic imp in Henry Fuseli’s “The Nightmare,” Fuseli — the equivalent to Marvel’s Nightmare — waltzes through the dreams of those slumbering, casting visions of horror and fright. He uses the people in Zatanna’s neighborhood as stepping stones into Zee’s dreams, playing her against her own memories. Fuseli (the painter) spent a great deal of time and effort with his work on “The Nightmare,” going back to repaint the piece a total of four times. Depending on the version you find, Fuseli (the demon) is close to what Roux draws here.
Dini masterfully crafts a tale of a celebrity who has dabblings in many of the aspects of the DC Universe — she is a member of the Justice League, called into action; a stage magician, prepping for the next show; the mystic guardian of San Francisco; and an all-too-human being, weary from being so involved and so very much in demand. Dini is building Zatanna’s rogues gallery here, collecting bits and pieces, defining foes and fiends, all the while forging a story that’s actually going somewhere.
The Charles Manson-like Brother Night is building his criminal empire, and is doing so in a most orderly fashion, going so far as to attempt to buy the acts and deeds of police officers, including Zatanna’s new pal, Detective Dale Colton.
Roux’s art is fantastically suited to the fantastic worlds of Zatanna. Fuseli doesn’t look out of place or just plain weird in the room of Amanda Fitzhugh, a young girl whose dreams Fuseli destroys. The demons of Brother Night are as detailed as the clutter on Colton’s desk. Roux sells all aspects of Zatanna’s life in admirable fashion, from Zatanna’s fight alongside her Justice League allies to Zee’s bedroom as she struggles to find sleep.
I didn’t expect to enjoy this issue as much as I did. Zatanna has always been a character that I’ve enjoyed reading, dating back to the first time I saw her in an issue of “Justice League of America.” After all, us “Zees” have to stick together. Dini, however, takes Zee from being an interesting character to being a believably interesting character ingrained in the heart of the DC Universe with more going on than just her world tour. Starting a comic off with Black Canary, Vixen, and Zatanna fighting a pack of were-hyenas — and tying it in to the pre-existing Hyenas of the DCU — demonstrates what this book is all about. This is one of those books that a lot of people just flat-out don’t realize they should be reading until a copy magically appears in their hands. “Sredaer yub Annataz!”
As if this issue, in and of itself was not a compelling enough reason for me to want more “Zatanna,” the last page reveal surprised me, and has me eagerly anticipating the next.