Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Classics - The Atom #19

   While team-ups were pretty common for both Marvel and DC in the '60s, it was generally only done as a one-issue event (Hawkman and Atom met often in each other's comic, as did Green Lantern and the Flash), or in a regular team-up comic like World's Finest.

   (To be fair, the annual Justice League / Justice Society crossover was typically a two-issue event.)

   But in 1965 editor Julius Schwartz and writer Gardner Fox had a unique idea - sort of a precursor to the mini-series. They'd create an ongoing crossover story that would start in one title and weave through several different titles, culminating in an issue of Justice League of America.

   The story also introduced a new character who almost instantly became a fan-favorite: the magician Zatanna. She was searching for her missing father, the Golden Age magician Zatara.

   The story started in Hawkman #4 and continued in this issue of The Atom (eventually continuing in Green Lantern, Batman and even an Elongated Man story). She recruits the Tiny Titan to help her journey into a magical book where she'll confront an evil magician who managed to defeat her father.

   Her ongoing story featured several surprising turns (although the opening part of this story is pretty standard "Atom versus dumb crooks" stuff). But the story kicks into high gears when Zatanna appears on the scene sporting her va-va-voom stage costume, complete with fishnet stockings.

   It's a fun story, loaded with lots of action. It doesn't hurt that the art is by the legendary Gil Kane and Sid Greene, working at the top of their game here. Worth the cover price for that first shot of Zatanna, which delighted a certain 9-year-old fan.

   It was a one-time-only experiment that (as I recall) wasn't repeated - and it must have been a challenge to coordinate, even with Fox handling all the writing - but as a fan, I loved it.

   It made the DC Universe seem more "real," as adventures overlapped and connected. That would become commonplace in the '70s and '80s - but I'm pretty sure the idea started here.

Grade: A-



Anonymous said...

I don't collect action figures as a rule, but one exception is the Zatanna figure based on the drawings of Murphy Anderson! That is one I couldn't pass up.

Sam Kujava

Chuck said...

Sam, that one's in my collection, too.