Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Zatanna, Every Little Thing She Does is Magic

Note: Continuing my posting on DC Comics and Mutants & Masterminds this week.  If you want to know why then read this; Green Ronin to do DC.

Like many my first comics were DC Comics. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman defined "super hero" to me. And like many people I moved on to Marvel Comics, to Spiderman and the X-Men, and then later still to the independents (Witchblade and the like). While I was never a huge reader of comics as a kid (I read them more now than I ever did then) I always gravitated to the more mystical or horror elements of the comic book world. Tomb of Dracula and Doctor Strange is what really got me into Marvel, along with Ghost Rider and for a while I equated that with why I thought Marvel was "better". I came back to DC when the "Bat Craze" of the 90's broke out. That and the death of Superman made me look at something I thought I knew well in a new light. To my surprise I discovered something. I just liked DC Comics better. Sure I still like Doctor Strange, but when someone says "Master of Magic" I don't think of Doctors Strange or Fate, but rather a Mistress of Magic, Zatanna.

Ok, this really should be a no brainer. I love witches, we all know that. But Zatanna has something that some of the other magic wielding types don't have; a pedigree. Her father was a stage magician of the Golden Age comics, Giovanni "John" Zatara. Her mother is a member of a magical race that resembles what passes in some horror fiction as a "witch" race (ala Kim Harrison, Kelley Armstrong or Witch Girls Adventures) or the "Gifted" (WitchCraft RPG). So Zatanna comes from two distinct lines of magical use and she combines them. Of course her father was doing his thing in the 1930s and "Zee" herself appears in comics in the mid 1960s so she is by most rights in her 60's but still looks great in fishnets. Well that is no big deal, since the same fictions that separate out witches into their own race also have them long lived. So at 60 Zee probably still looks like she is in her 30s. But I never "got" Zatanna till I read the "Hellblazer" and "Books of Magic" comics and read about her relationship with John Constantine. I felt that this gave her a more interesting background, plus it should that Zee was willing to try multiple paths to magical enlightenment (including "black" magic and even Tantra with Constantine). Of course there is also the whole deal with her magical lobotomy of Dr. Light in "Identity Crisis", a comic that was good for Zatanna's character but I mostly disliked.

I am not going to go into detail about her life, history, her interesting sex life, or her smoking pot with Constantine on his 40th birthday, since that can all be found in other places on the web.  But it's all pretty cool for a superhero.

And normally I would convert her to a bunch of my favorite systems, but Paul Dini and I are not alone in our obsessions (ok, Paul Dini is several orders of magnitude above me in this one), and others have already done that for me.

Thom Marrion did a great Cinematic Unisystem / Ghosts of Albion version,

A bunch great ones over at the Atomic Think Tank for Mutants and Masterminds, Baron's, Batgirl's, Jabronville's, Narsil's, Pamela Isley's, and MDSnowman's.

But I think I want to do something different. How about a teenaged Zatanna, just getting started out in the magic biz. Ok, so not all that different, but it could make some fun stories.

So here is Zee for Witch Girls Adventures. This is Zee after she left her formal schooling or just about ready to graduate. In a WGA style school she would have really had it tough as most of the girls would have focused on her human father the stage magician and ignored that fact that her mother was a really powerful witch. Though they would not have done that for very long.

Zattana Zatarra

Witch Sorceress
 Age: 17

Body: d6
Mind: d6
Senses: d8
Will: d8
Social: d6 +1
Magic: d10

Life Points: 12
Reflex: 9
Resist Magic: 13
Zap Points: 20

Skills (Rank)
Acting d6
Basics d4 

Hear d4
Look d6

Casting d6
Focus d4 (needs to talk backwards to achieve this)
Magical Etiquette d4
Mysticism d6

Beautiful, Entertainer (+1 to rolls)

Legacy (mother was the powerful witch Sindella, father John Zatarra has witch-blood and was a stage magician).

Alteration 5 (4 +1)
Conjuration 3
Curse 2
Divination 2
Illusion 3
Mentalism 2 (later will be at Rank 6 here)
Offense 1
Protection 1

Signature Spell - Forget

Crystal Ball (+1 to Scry)

Misty Lee, aka Mrs. Paul Dini, aka the real life Zatanna,
Toyriffic on the JLU Animated figure.

The Zatanna pic at the very top was made by Mach Sabre.  You can find his Deviant Art page here: and his co-effort, the awesome Shadow Girls comic here:  Not sure why there is a lobster in her hat though.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Great post! I've been a longtime fan of Zatanna.

I remember her and Tim in the Books of Magic going into the club and being threatened by the denizens but felt cheated when Constantine showed up and caused them to back down rather than see Zee do some stuff (IIRC). I'll have to read those again.

And I guess I'm going to have to knuckle down and finally get Witch Girl Adventures. It's been on my list for a while.