SYNOPSIS: Magic is in the air as Bruce Wayne travels to New York City to study under the legendary John Zatara and his daughter, Zatanna. But there’s dark magic loose in the Big Apple, and Bruce’s path toward becoming Batman must cross it. Will a man who is training his body and mind to combat crime be ready for a spiritual threat?

Every good knight should have a wizard in their corner, don’t you think?

Writer Chip Zdarsky certainly thinks so, penning a story that on the surface recalls the Batman: The Animated Series classic, “Zatanna”.

Bruce Wayne has returned to America, but not Gotham, instead seeking training from John Zatarra, one of the world’s greatest stage magicians. Well, he was, until he lost his wife, Sindella. Now he drinks too much, buried by the weight of his grief.

Heartbreak is this story’s theme-how it defines us, how it ends us, and how it can be overcome, or at the very least, suppressed. Zdarsky really digs deep into how loss spurs Bruce on, continually driving him to be the best at everything. But at what cost? Zdarsky examines what price Bruce is willing to pay, giving us one of the best issues in the series.

Di Giandomenico continues to deliver top-tier art, giving a cinematic feeling to his panels and pacing. The demon Shantoz is appropriately terrifying, with several mouths to aid in his feeding. Etrigan he is not! As usual, Plascencia’s colors are on point, delivering the noir shadows across characters’ faces that have become a trademark in this series, in addition to a darkly vibrant color palette when it comes to all things magical.

Speaking of magic, if you haven’t guessed by now, it’s all over this issue. For those who prefer a more grounded, or less-fantastical Batman yarn, I’ll say this-Zdarsky handles it, and Bruce’s reaction to the revelation that magic is real, very well. In fact, I’d say it’s pitch-perfect and an example of how well he understands Bruce’s character.

Seeing Bruce interact with the Zatarras is a lot of fun. They have a deep, shared history, one that I don’t recall being in prior iterations. In fact, at this point, they are really the closest thing to a family that he has left, not counting Alfred. I’ve always loved the Bruce/Zatanna dynamic (thanks to the aforementioned episode) and they have great chemistry here. She’s not intimidated by him and can call him out and be brutally honest when she needs to be.

As we get into the home stretch with this limited series, Zdarsky really seems to be picking up steam! He really understands Bruce’s motivations, his determination, and his relationship with fear. Di Giandomenico wows me with every page, making me yearn to see him tackle a proper Batman story! (Maybe if Jorge Jimenez takes a vacation from dazzling readers on Batman?) This might be my favorite issue so far! Javier E. Trujillo




Previous articleNIGHTWING #94 Review
Next articleThe Straight Outta Gotham Podcast 83
Javier Trujillo
Javier E. Trujillo was a Batman fan long before the 1989 blockbuster opened on his 12th birthday. After following BATMAN-ON-FILM.COM -- the "Dad-Gum Original" -- since its inception, he started to write for BoF in 2019, covering Batman's 80th anniversary. He's a lover of all eras and aspects of The Dark Knight, but artist Jim Aparo will always be how he pictures him. When on the internet, odds are it's because he's talking about Batman or James Bond (or MAYBE Wally West). He resides in the "Live Music Capital of the World" (and also the genesis of Adam West's Bat-Boat), Austin, TX. You can follow him on Twitter @JaviTru or on Instagram @TheBondIsNotEnough.