DCAU #198: Token of Faith

IN THIS ONE... Batman fights the Hypnotist, an old enemy of Zatanna's father Zatara.

CREDITS: Written by Hilary J. Bader; art by Joe Staton and Terry Beatty.

REVIEW: Weaving together a contemporary story and one from Bruce Wayne's pre-Batman past together, Token of Faith has fun with its ambiguity about the existence of true magic. The villain evidently has a real hypnotic power, but we're told the magic amulet he uses as a focus is only a crutch. And yet, the amulet does appear to have some mystical significance. Zatanna seems sincere when she says she doesn't know how her vanishing trick/spell works, but the vanished amulet shows up in the mail. It's like everyone, writer included, won't confirm the existence of magic, but we all have knowing smiles.

It's always nice to see Zatanna, at any rate, and I thought we might be spared her fetishization given Paul Dini didn't write this story. Alas, the Hypnotist has an unhealthy obsession with her that really didn't need to be part of the plot and barely plays a part. Meh. The past sequences aren't revelatory about her relationship with Bruce - it's more about Zatara mentoring him - but we do get to see Bruce use Batman-like tricks in civilian guise. A hoot.

A rich, full story then, with capable art by the dependable Joe Staton, and a strong color palette by Lee Loughridge who I'm really liking on these books. But it's a story that, while complete, isn't over. There were TWO amulets, see? A red and a blue. But the blue amulet's story will keep for another day (see below)...
IN THE MAINSTREAM COMICS: The Hypnotist bears some resemblance to Doctor Tzin-Tzin, a Batman villain probably too much in the Yellow Menace mold, and thus too racist a caricature, to be used in the DCAU. Zatanna's spells are nonsense words as opposed to "reverse speak" as they are in the comics (but then, is it really magic?). The reference to "Clark" when Zatara speaks softly into the amulet is Clark Kent; as we'll soon see, the Superman Adventures Annual tells another part of this story.

REREADABILITY: Medium-High - A case that spans two time periods is a good way to do a double-sized issue, and the Zatara family are always welcome.



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