In our review of Knight Terrors: Zatanna #2, we see Zatanna continue her attempt to escape from the Sleepless Knights and the recently “knighted” Robotman.
Knight Terrors: Zatanna #2 concludes Zatanna’s short solo run in the Knight Terrors arc. An arc that finds most of the villains and heroes in catatonic near coma states as each faces their own nightmares in their custom created Nightmare Realm. Zatanna, however, is able to avoid the endless slumber of Insomnia but she is faced with her own nightmare. She is tasked with protecting the sleeping bodies of Wonder Woman and Detective Chimp, both of whom she is able to hide the sleeping heroes in the Panic Room at the center of a magical maze underneath the Hall of Justice. To help her in this mission she transported one of the few heroes not asleep, Cliff Steele, the Robotman of the Doom Patrol.
Unfortunately Zatanna and Robot Man are also being attacked by the Sleepless Knights; Sir Morbid, Maiden Iron and their queen, Sleepless Queen. At the conclusion of the last issue, this threesome becomes a foursome when the queen “knights” Cliff, making him the Rustbringer and sending him to pursue the now abandoned Zatanna. The goal is to “knight” Zatanna to their ranks. The opening sequence which shows the pursuit includes a voice over where Zatanna brings the reader briefly up to date about the overall arc involving Insomnia as well as her portion of this story. This is effective in quickly bringing the reader up to date and using one off panels to depict the overall arc as well as document the pursuit in the maze.
Knight Terrors: Zatanna #2 becomes a chase as the four antagonists pursue Zatanna in the maze as she attempts to escape and seal the four inside. She reaches the stairs leading out when she stops. Once again she faces the ghostly apparition resembling her long dead father Zatara. In other stories this has proven to be a weakness in Zatanna. She was unable to save him and she has been faced time and time again by this apparition.
Today it is the work of the Sleepless Queen. This time it brings her to her knees in tears. For the second time, Zatanna faced this apparition. The difference then was that she had Robotman by her side and she was able to switch his burden with him so he faced Zatara while she faced Cliff’s demons. The problem here is that she is now alone and has to face her fear alone.
The Cost of Magic
The apparition brings up the common theme around Zatanna, the use of magic has a cost. Zatara reminds the sorceress of the cost and that she has never paid for it herself. He accuses her of resorting to magic to solve all of her problems without regard for the consequences. In fandom one common complaint about magic is that it is just a macguffin device. It is to get out of jail for free. All the character has to do is find the right spell and just like that the story is resolved and everything returns to the status quo. Zatanna stories however show that this is not true.
There is a cost for using magic and that cost can be very steep. Zatara tells his “daughter” that someone else always pays the consequences. A price that Zatanna says she has paid numerous times. A payment that Zatara says is not enough. The price is not guilt but the spilled blood and lives ruined and lost. Instead everyone around her pays the price and Cliff Steele is the latest to pay the price for her.
It is here that Zatanna notices something beside her father. The magic of the maze should not affect her, she should know where she is but here she does not. She realizes that she is losing faith in her own magic. It is key to remember that one of the greatest strengths of any magician or sorcerer is their own faith in their power. If they lose that faith, their power dwindles. Here Zatanna realizes that she is buying into the trick of losing her power just as Zatara tells her to give up.
This triggers a memory of her father training her. The scene is she is not getting a trick and Zatara urges her to listen to him. The audience is not believing the trick because she as the magician is not believing the trick either. All magic is a confidence game.
Zatara leaves her as Rustbinger approaches. He has finally found our defeated hero. Soon the other members of the Sleepless Knights arrive with the sole purpose of turning her into one of them. The Sleepless Queen draws her sword and approaches the kneeling heroine. She strikes, knighting her the “Dame of Death”. Something goes wrong. She resists and says that she has more powerful magic. All she had to do was believe more that she did. She is able to take the queen’s sword and uses it to restore Cliff Steele. The two together defeat the knights forcing them to retreat back to Insomnia.
Zatanna offers to return Cliff to his team but he declines and Zatanna opens the portal to the final battle. To be continued in Knight Terrors: Night’s End due out at the end of August.
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