Zatanna Zatara is the daughter of famed magician Giovanni “John” Zatara and Sindella, a member of the mystical Homo Magi race. Zatanna is a direct descendant of the artist and magician Leonardo da Vinci, and is related to Nostradamus; Alessandro Cagliostro; the noted alchemists Nicholas Flamel and Evan Fulcanelli; and Lord Arion of Atlantis. Her cousin, Zachary Zatara, is also a magician. Zatanna was a successful stage illusionist before she discovered her true magical powers while investigating the disappearance of her father. With the help of Batman, The Atom, Elongated Man and others, she was successfully reunited with him. Their time together was short, and unfortunately, both of her parents were killed on separate occasions while saving her life.
Justice League of America
Zatanna assisted the Justice League of America on a number of cases before being elected to full membership. During her tenure with the group her power levels diminished briefly, so that she could only control the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. It should be noted that this limitation was only temporary and that her magical ability was fully restored. Later Zatanna was worried about her lack of focus while using magic. She decided that her father's style of magic was wrong for her, and explored her mother's mystical heritage.
While Zatanna was a member of the Justice League, the villain Dr. Light stole aboard the Watch Tower and raped the Elongated Man's wife Sue Dibny. When Zatanna and several others Leaguers returned, they saw what Dr. Light had done. A fight broke out and when they finally managed to subdue him, he began to threaten them and their families. Zatanna was prepared to erase Light's memories of the incident, but his terrible brutality and his promises to do it again sparked a debate amongst the present League members on whether or not to tamper with his personality and prevent him from repeating his crime. Zatanna, Hawkman, and The Atom voted for such action, while Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Green Lantern voted against. The Flash broke the tie and voted to tamper with Light's mind. Zatanna used her magic to do so, but the difficulty of the process resulted in her accidentally lowering his intellect. In the midst of her spell, Batman appeared and tried to stop them. Zatanna froze him, and they voted to have her erase his memories of the incident as well.
Zatanna's mind-wipe of Dr. Light was not an isolated occurrence. Catwoman discovered that her journey from villain to hero and her resulting efforts to lead a moral life were caused by Zatanna's mental intervention. Selina came to distrust her memories, motives, and choices she’d made since that incident. In a fit of rage, Catwoman gags Zatanna and pushes her through a window. Despite this, Zatanna helps Catwoman and, at Selina's behest, mind-wipes petty villains Film Freak and Angle Man, because they had deduced Catwoman's secret identity.
Friend of BatmanZatanna and Batman’s friendship degraded once Batman discovered what she had done. He began to distrust her and his other friends in the super hero community. When Zatanna helped Batman with reconnaissance at a Lazarus Pit, she asks him why he came to her. "I needed someone I can trust," Batman said, "but I had to settle for you." This must have been especially hard for her to hear, seeing that she and Bruce Wayne had been close friends since childhood. Recently, however, their relationship appears to have warmed; sometime later he called her for information on a card-counter involved in scamming the Penguin. He makes no mention of their conflict, and casually calls her by her nickname, "Zee".
Leaving The Justice League of America
After departing from the League, Zatanna continues her stage career and her vocation as a defender against mystical threats, becoming a member of the Sentinels of Magic. She is also the author of the hugely successful Hex Appeal: The Modern Girl's Guide to Magic.
Zatanna found herself involved in a battle with the powerful Enchantress, alongside her old flame John Constantine, and several other occultists and magicians known as the Justice League Dark.
Powers and Abilities
Sorcery: Zatanna is a homo magi, a human born with the affinity to manipulate magic. Her unique genetic structure allows her to use the magic she was born with as well as learned magic. As a tribute to her father, and as a focus for her spells, she casts spells by speaking backwards. For example, saying "pots" would cause the target of the spell to stop in their tracks. She can only cast the spells she wants by speaking or reading backwards, because that's the only way to focus her magic.
- Elemental Sorcery: With her magic Zatanna has shown a greatest affinity to manipulate the elements of the Earth.
- Telepathy: Zatanna can use her magic to manipulate the minds of others. She has displayed the following abilities.
- Read Minds
- Memory Manipulation: She is able to wipe minds completely and/or remove specific memories.
- Chlorokinesis: Control over plants
- Thermokinesis: She has used this ability a few times to stay warm in frigid environments.
- Superhuman Strength
- Superhuman Durability
- Force Field
- Teleportation: Able to teleport herself and/or others to anywhere she desires.
- Dimensional Travel
- Probability Manipulation
- Magical Awareness: supernatural sensitivity to occult activities and mystic phenomena.
- Dispel: Able to remove illusions and holographic images that her opponents have set up.
- Elemental Conversion
- Molecular Conversion
- Regeneration: Able to heal herself and others
- Size Alteration: She can increase or decrease her overall volume to nearly any size she chooses. The limits of this ability are subject only to the degree of power available to her at any one time. She has been seen using this ability to get down to the size of the Atom (about 6 inches tall at the time) to talk to him face-to-face.
- Spectral Sight: She can see spiritual entities and travelers invisible to normal sight; she can perceive magical events at a great distance.
- Elemental Transmutation: Zatanna has the ability to rearrange atoms and molecules in both inorganic and organic matter. She can change an object’s or creature's shape. In addition from one chemical into another.
- Magical Manipulation: Zatanna is also capable of using all personal and universal magic
- Extraction and Transportation of Souls: Able to extract and move souls from organic/inorganic structures to another organic/inorganic structure. In addition, she can attack her opponents by thrusting a soul at them. She only does this ability in dire situations.
- Mystical Invulnerability: After casting this specific spell, she is safe from any offensive magic that comes her way or others.
- Prestidigitation: Zatanna is skilled in stage magic, performing simple tricks and elaborate illusions.
- Good Combatant: She has also been taught conventional fighting skills by the Justice League, but favors using magic in place of them.
- Occultist: as Chronicler of Magic she possesses an extensive understanding of Occult lore due to her Mystic Background
- Improvisation: She prepares specific spells (a couple of hundred) but improvises a good bit for the unpredictable situations she encounters.
- Multi-lingual: Able to speak English, Spanish, and "Backwards Speech". As noted throughout the comics, she doesn't show any difficulty in speaking backwards when performing spells. It seems she can speak backward speech without hesitation and with clarity. Backwards Speech is most commonly known as Mnemonic Incantations.
- As a magician, she is considered among the most powerful and knowledgeable in the world and often works alongside the most powerful magic-users on Earth, including Doctor Fate, Madame Xanadu, and Captain Marvel. However, the actual extent of her powers is not fully known. According to Green Arrow, she is the most powerful member of the Justice League. Of all the magicians and sorcerers on the planet, the JLA always go to Zatanna when they need magical assistance.
- Mnemonic Incantation: Zatanna casts her spells by saying the words of her incantations backwards. Zatanna must concentrate on her magic to make sure she is using the proper spell. It is at this point where she is most vulnerable. Mnemonic incantation is the most complicated of the mystic arts. It appears that this is well known to her enemies. On one occasion, the assassin Deathstroke delivered a direct blow to her liver, initiating a regurgitation reaction. On a separate occasion, The Joker (disguised as the stage magician Loxias) shot Zatanna in the neck, rendering her magic useless. She must be able to speak or read backwards in order for her to focus her spells. On multiple occasions, Zatanna has also found herself to be bound and gagged by her enemies, a measure that denies her the ability to cast spells.
- Higher-Level Magics: If the magic power-level of her opponent is higher than hers, then it would be extremely difficult for her to win a battle. In addition, it is difficult to impossible to affect a spell that was set in motion with higher-level magics.
Magic Wand: Often seen with a magic wand, although whether it is a stage prop or an actual focus for her powers remains unknown. She doesn't need it though, considering her recent appearances without one and being able to cast spells effectively.
- Zatanna owns a mansion called Shadowcrest, in which she keeps a vast library of magical knowledge, as well as an arsenal of powerful relics, enough to do "just about anything you'd want to do." Shadowcrest seems to exist in a completely different dimension, although it is initially located outside of Gotham.
- Zatanna has had a relationship with John Constantine.
- Zatanna has had a relationship with Doctor Thirteen.
- Zatanna had a relationship with Renegade, during the time they had two children, Zorn and Zatreas.
- Zatanna has the reputation of being DC's "greatest minor" hero, due to her continuous appearances in many frontline comics, although never starring in her own title, save for the Seven Soldiers miniseries (whose premise was based on lesser-known or less popular characters), until Zatanna Vol 1.
- In Earth-97 continuity, Zatanna was an initiate to a coven known as the Dark Circle. Circle leader Etrigan promised Zatanna a place within the coven if she could acquire an artifact known as the Green Lantern. After searching for three years, she eventually found the lantern in the possession of a former pirate named Jason Blood. She attempted to fight Blood, but her spell mis-fired killing her, but trapping her soul within her dead body. Blood promised to set Zatanna's soul free, if she agreed to take up his position as Keeper of the Lantern. Zatanna agreed, and became the new Green Lantern.
- In 2005 Zatanna is one of the main 7 in Grant Morrison's 30-issue mini-series Seven Soldiers. Here, it was revealed that the reaction of her peers to the mindwipes was so extreme as to make her lose her self-confidence, and with it, her magic. However, with the help of Etta Candy and the news of an impending apocalyptic battle, she regains her powers. Although it has been made clear that one of the Seven Soldiers will die in the final battle, due to several recent and recurring appearances before the final issue's release, it has been speculated that Zatanna will be one of the survivors.
- Zatanna also appears in DC's Vertigo imprint. She appears several times in The Books of Magic, typically to counsel Timothy Hunter, the main character. In Hellblazer she was the tantric partner of John Constantine at one point in the past. An alternate version of Zatanna with blonde hair was seen in Books of Magick: Life During Wartime. The world depicted there is populated by both humans(known there as the Bred) and by races of the Faerie (known as the Born). A war is going on between the Born ruling elite and a coalition of Born and Bred who intend to overthrow the current dictatorial regime. The version of Zatanna that exist on this world fights for this Coalition.
In Other Media
DC Animated Universe
- Zatanna first appears in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Zatanna" voiced by Julie Brown. She appears as an illusionist with no apparent magic powers. She developed a close relationship with Bruce Wayne (who was using the alias "John Smith") during the years in which Bruce was traveling the globe learning skills that later serve him as Batman. Zatanna later comes to Gotham City with her magic show, but finds herself being framed by a criminal magic debunker named Montague Kane. Her efforts to restore her name and stop the villain put her side-by-side with the Batman.
- Zatanna made a short appearance in Batman Beyond episode "Out of the Past" (season three, episode five) in a collection of pictures that Bruce is looking at on his computer of past loves, alongside Lois Lane, Selina Kyle/Catwoman and Barbara Gordon.
- Zatanna appears in Justice League Unlimited episode "This Little Piggy" voiced by Jennifer Hale. She helps Batman search for the villainess Circe (who has turned Wonder Woman into a pig). Zatanna is apparently aware of Batman's true identity since her last appearance ("Bruce! I haven't seen you for so long...") and knows him well enough to perceive his romantic relationship with Wonder Woman. She seems to be very good friends with Batman, as they often banter ("Don't get snippy with me!"). In her JLU depictions, her spells are often cast backwards, but almost equally often cast without words, and on one occasion, speaking normally. She also appeared in the episode "The Balance" (voiced by an uncredited Juliet Landau) amongst the magic-based superheroes affected by the disturbance in the magical balance. In "Destroyer", Zatanna appears as one of many Justice League Members called to help fight the invading Apokoliptan forces. She transforms an entire flock of Parademons into doves, then transmutes them into explosive energy, and destroys several Apokoliptan battleships with them. DCAU writer Paul Dini wrote both of Zatanna's former and latter appearances described above, and apparently likes the character quite a lot. This version of the character, and her appearance in Seven Soldiers of Victory, were the main influence for the Smallville version of Zatanna.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold
- Zatanna appears in Batman: The Brave and the Bold in the teaser of "Chill of the Night!" Jennifer Hale reprises her role of Zatanna from Justice League Unlimited. She and Batman stop Abra Kadabra from robbing a museum exhibit displaying the history of magicians. While Batman holds back the mind control slaves, Zatanna battles Kadabra, and traps him in her hat. She later pulls out a tiny bird cage with Kadabra in it, winning the magic battle. Though she relies primarily on vocal spells, she is also shown to be able to effectively wield Kadabra's magic wand after he binds her mouth closed. This version of Zatanna wears a slightly modified version of her original outfit, albeit with her trademark fishnets replaced by purple tights.
- Zatanna is a playable character in the videogame Justice League Heroes.
- Zatanna appears as a non-playable character in DC Universe Online, voiced by Claire Hamilton.