Sunday, 5 January 2014

Zatara

Zatara the Magician is a comic book character who:

first appeared in Action Comics no 1, June 1938, the same issue as Superman;
dressed as a stage magician;
wove spells by speaking backwards;
died during a seance in Alan Moore's Swamp Thing no 50 in the mid-80's;
but leaves a daughter, Zatanna the Magician.

In Neil Gaiman's The Books Of Magic: The Invisible Labyrinth (New York, 1990), the Phantom Stranger shows Tim Hunter the past of magic. However, Zatara is presented not in a comic strip but in a full page illustration with dead rabbits falling from his top hat and with an elegaic poem printed down both sides of the page.

Under electric light at night, I find the poem almost illegible. Zatara had found the center of the invisible labyrinth or perhaps it was only the entrance. Then when he does reach the center, he finds "...emptiness, the hollow place at the center of the maze." (p. 43)

He is conscious of theatrical success but also of dead animals that "...helped me fool them all." (ibid.) His magic tricks conceal his real magic.

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