Welcome Batman fans to the first Batman Character of the Week! In this post series we will get to know various Batman characters who might be a bit obscure and who you may not know very well. In this first Batman Character post we will be focusing on Zatara the magician who taught a young Bruce Wayne the art of the escape. Here’s a bit of general back ground information about the character:
John Zatara is introduced as a magician in various publications of DC Comics, beginning with 1938’s Action Comics # 1, which also contains the first appearance of Superman. Like the very similar Mandrake the Magician, Zatara had a large East Indian as a friend/bodyguard, called Tong, to share his early adventures.
As well as being an illusionist, Zatara also had genuine magical powers (decades later ascribed to being a descendant of the Homo magi), which he focused through speaking backwards: he could do anything so long as he could describe it in sdrawkcab hceeps (“backwards speech”). This helped distinguish Zatara from the numerous Mandrake the Magician knockoffs that cluttered the comics and pulp magazines of the day, although Merlin the Magician (Quality Comics) also had this attribute, and it was also given to him by Zatara’s creator, Fred Guardineer
And in the Gotham scene:
Zatara became good friends with Thomas Wayne. His excursions with Wayne led to Wayne meeting his wife, Martha. After the two were killed, Zatara left Gotham City, blaming himself for being unable to stop the orphaning of young Bruce. Eventually, in Europe, Zatara would met and wed Sindella, who gave birth to their daughter, Zatanna. Sindella seemingly died after giving birth to Zatanna, prompting Zatara to become a depressed drunk.
Things changed for the better in Zatara’s life when a young Bruce Wayne arrived, requesting Zatara to teach him to become an escape artist and illusionist. Bruce’s appearance prompted Zatara to address his alcoholism.
Read more on Zatara here on wikipedia.com. As far as his role in Batman’s life, according to the animated series of Justice League Unlimited young Bruce Wayne joined the circus that Zatara and his daughter Zatanna were a part of, under an alias of course, and studied under the illusionist and escape artist. It was Zatara’s dream that Bruce would one day succeed him in his act and it was young Zatanna’s dream that she and Bruce would fall in love. Sadly both father and daughter were disappointed when Bruce left before Zatara and finished imparting his wisdom, and before Zatanna could get a date out of him.
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