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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