This Week in Comics — 2010/12/22

Two entries this week, one expected and one unexpected. The first, "Zatanna", is a title I normally collect, the second one, "Batman Annual", that I normally don't bother with but examined just because it was new this week, and I'm glad I did.

"Zatanna # 8"'Pupaphobia'

Description: Zatanna Zatara, daughter of the Golden Age hero John Zatara and a major-league superheroine in her own right, has a phobia: puppets. She's faced down intergalactic armies and demon lords, fought malevolent foes mystical and mighty, yet the sight of a puppet makes her weak. (She tried to overcome her fear by appearing on a very popular childrens' program that included puppets and wound up vomiting in the trashcan of the green-furred puppet.)

To find the source of that fear, she employs the assistance of a nightmare imp known as Fuseli, who shows her an image from her past seen as a nightmare. But there's resistance to seeing the true nature of the image, until she uses her own magic to find the truth. And she doesn't like what she saw.

As a young girl, she was attacked by a master puppeteer. For his crime, her father transformed the puppeteer into a puppet. A distraught Zatanna recoiled from her father, aghast at what he had done, so he used his magic to cause her to forget the incident. Except it had lasting effects deep within.

But that was just a nightmare. Now that she's awake, she's in a waking nightmare: the puppet that was the puppeteer has returned and is making her his puppet, ready to continue what he started all those years ago.

Commentary: Fuseli remarks "The nut don't fall far from the tree, do it?" Zatanna, when she was first a part of the Justice League of America, sowed the seeds of an eventual crisis within the League by mystically causing a number of villains to forget some very confidential information about the heroes, including their secret identities: when one hero refused to go along with the scheme, he was made to forget, too. It was a ret-conn that actually made sense for the time period and was the cause of a number of serious repercussions, including mental instability and loss of friendships and respect.

Recommendation: As the first part of the storyline (either two or three issues, hard to say) its hard to make any kind of recommendation. The entire series is recommended, however, especially the issues with her cousin Zachary and the most recent one-shot story involving the Magic Museum.

"Batman Annual # 28"'All the Rage'

Description: Because of the events recounted in the previous major storyline, the world now knows Bruce Wayne is behind the Batman. Financially, that is. And being the major financier and industrialist that he is, he is turning his intellectual property into a franchise. The "Batman" franchise.

One of these franchises is in Paris, where the first major case involves 'Le Portal d'Or' ('The Golden Door') cult which is lead by a supernatural creature called a Korrigan. Taken from French Breton folklore, the Korrigan has the power to mesmerize.

"Their leader is a woman called Korrigan. She's named after a mythical creature from French Breton folklore. A kind of siren who appears at night as a beautiful creature with pale skin and red eyes. This creature has the ability to mesmerize her victim. Those who fall under her spell become her slaves … or her lovers."

Sent to infiltrate the cult is Renee Montoya, now also known as The Question. She proves just as susceptible to the Korrigan's hypnotic influence as anyone else and gladly reveals her infiltration, but she also possesses enough strength of will to resist the Korrigan's command to commit suicide. And against the power of two Batmans (the original and the local franchise) as well as the Question, Le Portal d'Or and the Korrigan haven't a chance.

Commentary: Batman probably knew that Renee would not be able to initially resist the Korrigan but would also pull through at the end.

Recommendation: Lots of very flashy special effects as Korrigan places Montoya under her spell.

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