Batman: The Animated Series 25th Anniversary #54: Zatanna

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Zatanna was first broadcasted on January 2, 1993 with a script by Paul Dini and directed by Dick Sebast & Dan Riba.

When the glamorous magician Zatanna is framed for a robbery during her act, Batman swings to her defense. Zatanna is grateful, though a little puzzled, by the Dark Knight’s commitment to prove her innocence, but the two heroes unite and use the skills her father, Zatara, taught them to expose and combat the culprit: an evil illusionist named Montague Kane.

This is one of those episodes that sticks with me for a number of reasons.

One, it’s my first introduction, as I think it was a lot of peoples’ first introduction, to the character of Zatanna, here voiced by Julie Brown, also known as the voice of Minerva Mink on Animaniacs, and Dini does a good job of bringing this character to the series and have her being written as a full fledge character.

Two, I think of all the flashbacks that have been done up to this point, this episode flashing back to when both Zatanna and Bruce Wayne were working together as Bruce was her father’s apprentice, her father being Zatara (voiced by Vincent Schiavelli), under the pseudonym of John Smith, which even her father jokes about in the last meeting they have together:

And that leads into the third aspect of what makes this episode stand out, they did a really good job of establishing this relationship between Zatanna and Bruce Wayne from the past, both Brown and Kevin Conroy each share really good chemistry together in the scenes they share both in the past and the present and you kind of have to wonder what it would’ve been like if she had returned in more episodes and not have just been in this one episode alone.

There are a couple of flaws to the episode that I will say, the biggest one being the villain of the episode, Montague Kane, voiced by Michael York, is kind of a one dimensional bad guy, he has no depth to him, he has no real character to him, and he’s just kind of there to be the clichéd bad guy of the episode and that’s about it.

I also think some of the animation is a little too off, this is Dong Yang Animation who also did the animation for The Laughing Fish, Perchance To Dream, and See No Evil and this is one of the first episodes they’ve done where it comes off as pretty choppy in some sections, not to the point where it’s distracting but it’s noticeable.

Also, fans of Zatanna from the comics will notice throughout that her stockings she wears are not in the episode, that’s because according to Paul Dini, they were virtually impossible to animate. Which kind of makes you wonder that out of all the things that they’ve been able to animate on this series, they couldn’t animate a pair of fishnet stockings? Like I really am curious to know what was the problem was with animating a simple pair of stockings.

Regardless, Zatanna is a really solid episode that works as it shows us nice flashbacks to a part of Bruce Wayne’s life we never knew about and shows how well the chemistry between both Batman and Zatanna is over the course of the episode and they do a good job of establishing that character really well and it stings that this is the only episode Zatanna shows up in because I really was hoping we’d see more of her in the future, but as it stands, it’s a one shot episode that hits the right mark.

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