Zatara is a male comic superhero that features in DC Comics.
Giovanni Zatara was born to Italian parents that had migrated to the United States of America who raised him similar to an American boy. His grandfather Luigi also helped raise the boy and was a magician who instilled in the art in his grandson. Giovanni initially did not believe in magic until he made a rabbit accidently emerge from the hat Luigi had given him. (Secret Origin v2 #27) His grandfather used to claim that the Zatara family were related to the great Leonardo da Vinci in some manner. (DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest b1 #5) Due to his power, his childhood in Italy as a difficult one as random phrases created unnatural events around him. In this time, he was afraid to tell his parents or even a priest about what was happening leading to him being scared and alone. It was during this time that he was approached by the Phantom Stranger who carried with him books of Leonardo da Vinci who was an ancestor of Zatara with the tomes being scripted in backward writing. Initially, Zatara had the Phantom Stranger's aid and utilised a mirror to read the content of the books but in time came to read it himself allowing him to control his powers. (Madame Xanadu v1 #9) By adulthood, he began to perform as a stage magician though initially people were disappointed at his simple tricks. Thus, he sought to learn true greater magic and incidentally came upon a shop that was managed by Doctor Mist who offered him a number of books to read. From those books, Zatara began to hold a better control over his magic and began to use reverse speech in his spells that he began to employ in his acts as a stage magician. As a result, he gained fame during his performances as people were shocked and surprised when they attended his events. (Secret Origin v2 #27)
He by this point had inherited true magic that he used to battle crime whilst also appearing as Zatara the Magician. (DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest v1 #5) He worked with Thomas Wayne where together they helped on many children charities. (Detective Comics v1 #833) A drunk Thomas later attended his friend John Zatara's stage show in Gotham at a time when he was supposed to be meeting Roger Elliot and his wife Marla Elliot over a business transaction. At the time, Martha Kane had arrived in order to talk about a business proposal with Elliot Pharmaceuticals for charity work. (Batman: Streets of Gotham v1 #14) He came to notice that Thomas became less of a fun party man and later learnt that Wayne was dating Martha Kane. At the time, Zatara was considering joining a group of superheroes that offered him membership as he felt that amusing. (Batman: Streets of Gotham v1 #19) Sometime later, he along with members of the Justice Society of America had come to Gotham to save the Leslie Thompkins Clinic from a fire that was orchestrated by members of the Guzzo crime mob. (Batman: Streets of Gotham v1 #20)
At some point, he met and fell in love with Madame Xanadu with the two engaging in a romance where Zatara asked for her hand in marriage. Though she cared for him, Xanadu had foreseen a greater love for Zatara in the future which would produce a great offspring which was a reason she refused his offer. Despite that, the two did sleep with one another at another point later when they encountered one another when Madame Xanadu was looking into the identity of the cloaked individual known as the Phantom Stranger. (Madame Xanadu v1 #9) The Phantom Stranger later appeared in Zatara's home as a guest where Xanadu had enacted a mystical trap to chain him. After learning of this deception, Giovanni Zatara grew angry with Madame Xanadu insulting him and he was prepared to battle her. However, the Phantom Stranger froze him in time as he spoke to Xanadu before departing. Zatara was still temporarily frozen with Xanadu writing a letter to him before departing and resuming time for him. (Madame Xanadu v1 #10)
He and Tong thwarted the criminal acts of the Tigress who was conducting a freight train robbery. (Action Comics v1 #1) Whilst travelling, he found a plot at the Springer farm where a gang were pretending that a ghost haunted the sight in order to steal money. (Action Comics v1 #2)
Whilst in Egypt, he and Tong fought the priest of Isis named Amen-Hotep where he turned his own magic against him thus defeating the magician. (Action Comics v1 #5) He was then called to aid the brilliant surgeon Doctor Noonan who was receiving a telepathic call from an ancient Atlantean called Nargo who was known as the Brain and as the greatest genius of all of Atlantis. This individual was dying of a fatal illness with him intending for Noonan to save him so that he could conquer the world. This led to a battle with Zatara with Nargo being killed when a breach occurred in the remaining piece of Atlantis. (Action Comics v1 #47)
He later pursued an enemy of his named King Inferno where they battled in northern Turkey and had called all his mystical might in a desperate suicidal attack. His foe was defeated but it was a pyrrhic victory as he was buried in an avalanche with him being a semi-conscious state. He was approached then by Sindella from the Secret City of the Hidden Ones who provided him food and drink to keep him alive but disappeared whereupon Turkish farmers saved him. After recovering, he spent the next three weeks in search for the mysterious woman as he had fallen in love with her with him eventually finding her. The pair both fell in love with one another and leading to him returning to America where his wife asked him never to question her about her past. Their union led to her becoming pregnant with her giving birth to the couples daughter named Zatanna. Six months later, Sindella was believed to had been killed in a car accident though this was a trick as she was taken back to her home. (Justice League of America v1 #164) After becoming a father himself, he was always willing to do benefit performances to help children in need. A year after the Wayne's death, he answered Alfred Pennyworth's call to conduct a benefit performance for the children in the hope of cheering the distraught Bruce Wayne. (Detective Comics v1 #833)
Years later, Bruce Wayne approached Zatara who trained him to become an escape artist. (Detective Comics v1 #833)
He later battled the evil elemental known as Allura where he imprisoned her in the Sword of Paracelsus but she cursed him that would kill him if he ever spoke to his kin. This resulted in him fleeing to the magical realm of Kharma and having to stay away from his own daughter to ensure the curse did not come to pass. (Justice League of America v1 #51)
Whilst studying his crystal sphere, he was attacked by demons at his mansion home of Shadowcrest with the creatures being dispatched by the elemental Allura who took possession of his body. In this form, she had him banished his daughter Zatara and her manager Jeffrey Sloane to another dimension whereupon she had her host attempt to conquer the world. Zatanna managed to return and she temporarily paralysed her fathers body making it appear dead causing Allura to abandon it whereupon she was banished whereupon Zatara recovered his senses to tell his daughter what had happened to him. (DC Super-Stars v1 11)
The New 52
Following the Flashpoint, a new version of reality was created with a different history of events.
A young Bruce Wayne sought out Zatara in order to be trained on magic tricks such as sleight of hand which was when he met the magicians daughter Zatanna. (Detective Comics v1 #959)
Personality and attributes
He said that he was fond of Thomas and Martha Wayne with him doing anything for them. (Detective Comics v1 #833)
Powers and abilities
As a master magician, his magical might was used to bring about justice but old age caused him to choose the more quieter path of studying the supernatural to gain total knowledge of its forces. (DC Super-Stars v1 #11) He was noted to hold powerful mental abilities but he could not fight against more powerful telepathic minds. (Action Comics v1 #47)
Through magic, he was able to conduct a number of spells to achieve various feats. With a spell, he could cause people to rise in the air or transform food into better quality and even turn people into plants such as flowers. (Action Comics v1 #2) Zatara was able to call a cloak of invisibility allowing him to appear invisible though powerful telepaths could see through this spell. (Action Comics v1 #47)
Zatara was able to summon demons of the night where he called evil spirits and ghouls to assail his enemies. (Action Comics v1 #2)
He also maintained a diary that was called the Diary of John Zatara that spoke much of his early life. (DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest v1 #5)
- Zatara was created by Fred Guardineer where he made his first appearance in Action Comics v1 #1 (June, 1938).
- In DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest v1 #5 (1980), the character was identified as being John Zatara.
- In Mystik U v1 (2017), during a battle against the force known as the Malevolence the mystical heroes of Earth lost but cast a spell to create an alternate world. On this world, there existed Mystik University headed by Miss. Psychic and was a place to train those in the magical arts. Zatanna was the assistant of her father Zatara with him believing that she had no magical aptitude despite the advice of Miss. Psychic. During a stage show, she accidently called forth demons with her father pushing her away but being claimed by them. The shocked Zatanna was met by Miss. Psychic who talk her to Mystik University to undergo training in the mystical arts.
In other media
- In Batman: The Animated Series, Zatara made his first appearance in the DC Animated Universe series episode "Zatanna" where he was voiced by actor Vincent Schiavelli. He
- In Young Justice, Giovanni Zatara appeared in the animated television series where he was voiced by actor Nolan North with an Italian accent.
- Action Comics v1:
- DC Super-Stars v1: #11