Zatanna #14

The flock of lame ducks continues to fly from DC. With Zatanna slotted to join "Justice League Dark" in the rebooted DC Universe, and neither Paul Dini nor Jamal Igle (yet) given assignments in that universe, this book just has a few issues to serve out its existence. This issue comes across as an inventory issue or special order fill-in, and, unfortunately not a very good one at that.

Adam Beechen has done a good job filling in when necessary on this title, so much so that he could almost be considered the "regular fill-in writer" buying time for Paul Dini. Naturally, when I saw Beechen's name on the cover, I thought I was going to find an enjoyable story waiting to be read. It started out enjoyable enough, but it is definitely a sidetrip away from the slow boil Dini had set this book on with the most recent developments featuring Brother Night. This issue's story would be a nice break from it, if it didn't feel like an absolutely different title altogether.

Jamal Igle is on task for the first thirteen pages of the issue, and that provides some cohesiveness and continuity, but Igle gives way to Travis Moore (formerly of "Freedom Fighters") for the remainder of this story, right during the battle between Zatanna and her cousin, Zachary, who is being controlled by the succubus Yuki-Onna. Igle's pages have a different ambiance to them. His characters are more lively and the backgrounds are more detailed, yet cleaner. Moore's work is still detailed, but his panel arrangement plays up the chaos of the battle and the details Moore chooses to put in feed that chaos, making it burn all the brighter. Richard and Tanya Horie keep the hues of the book consistent, which cushions the dramatic change in art style, but doesn't totally negate the effects.

Where this book really loses me, though, is when Zatanna's thought balloons (yeah, thought balloons!) reveal that "our powers don't work on living things." Huh? Well what about "Namtab pots!"? I was reaching back through my memory trying to figure out if Zee had ever been hampered in such a way before, I couldn't come up with one. It's almost as though Beechen crossed wires between Firestorm and Zatanna, and no one at DC checked him on it. It would have been much cleaner if Zatanna declared that she couldn't use her powers on her own bloodline or some such, especially since I am certain there is no shortage of her using magic on living things.

There's two issues left of this series for the reset button is pushed. There's no shortage of hanging plotlines out there, and (hopefully) Dini and Igle are both in place for the next issue at least. I'd like to see this title revert back to the fun, adventurous, clean stories I've come to expect from it during its run before the final curtain is closed.

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