Sunday, March 21, 2010

Zatara - The OTHER Action Comics Debut - A'S'HGACB:SH*

*This is part of a semi-regular series in this blog "A 'Slight' History of Golden Age Comic Books: Super Heroes". To catch up on the other posts, click the label in the right hand column.

Much ballyhoo has long been made that the Golden Age of Comic Books began with the publication of Action Comics #1 and Superman's first appearance therein. While it's true that Superman was the major selling point and was the break-away character whose soon-to-be-burgeoning-popularity would spark the Super Hero revolution to come over the next decade (and well into today for that matter), there was another Super Hero that made his debut in that very same issue.

Zatara, the Magician! I find it a little ironic (though not a lot, really) that, later in the Superman mythos, the only other thing beside Kryptonite that could affect him was magic. The power held by the character who shared his debut.

Well, maybe it isn't that magic can harm him, so much as he's easily fooled by it. But that's just my take.

Zatara was really just a rip off of Mandrake the Magician from the newspapers. He dressed the same and even had a big mook of a sidekick named Tong to assist him, much like Mandrake's Lothar. In this debut story, the only real differences are the color of the lining of his cape (Mandrake's is red) and Zatara is sans moustache. The moustache later came though.

The real difference is that while Mandrake's magic was all centered around his knack for quick hypnotism of his subjects to create illusions, Zatara actually had magical powers. His spells are cast by saying his commands backwards.

Reminds me of this Steve Goodman song:

OK. Enough dissertation. While Superman's premier story has been re-printed and re-printed over and over, the Zatara story hasn't. Here it is to read for yourself, "The Mystery of the Freight Train Robberies"!


Ta Da! Magic First Aid Kit:

Zatara's arch enemy...the beautiful and ruthless Tigress! You can tell she's the Tigress by her stripedy shirt:

Check it out! He's talkin' backwards!

Zatara is handy at the fisticuffs too!

You can tell The Tigress is evil. She kicks a man when he's down.

Zatara, of course, is not below Mandrake's hypnotism trick. He just says it backwards.

He's not above a little gun play if need be either.

...I mean, for real. Check his shooting the bad guys! Not gnitoohs, but shooting!

I think panel 3 here is a typo. Tigress' gun appears to become a banana, not a bullet. If I had a dirty mind, I'd wonder where she disappeared so fast to with the phallic fruit.

Oh wait, I do have a dirty mind.

And so, the Tigress escapes to challenge Zatara again. So begin the EPIC adventures of comicdoms favorite magical Super Hero.

If you don't count Sargon the Sorceror. Or Ibis the Invincible. Or Doctor Fate. Or...

Oh hell. Let's face it. Zatara is best remembered for just 3 things.

1. He was a rip off of Mandrake.

2. Because he was one of the first Super Heroes ever, retconning in the Modern Age of Comic Books sometimes references Zatara being the man who helped train Batman. Though I believe this has been retconned out of continuity at present.

3. And the most important thing that Zatara is remembered for is his daughter, Zatanna who debuted in the 1960's in the Silver Age of Comic Books:

Is if creepy that a man's legacy be carried in his daughters fish-net stockings?

Yes. But, "Hubba Hubba" who cares! Check out them gams!

Next up: Action Comics #2!


Anonymous said...

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"What is the current listing status for Site is listed as suspicious - visiting this web site may harm your computer. Malicious software includes 31 trojan(s). Successful infection resulted in an average of 2 new process(es) on the target machine.

Jeff Overturf said...

Thanks for the tip. For safety's sake, I will temporarily remove the link.

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