Zatanna Costume History
Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson created Zatanna for the 1964 issue of Hawkman #4. She would make appearances in several DC comic titles over the years and officially become a JLA member in the 1978 issue of Justice League of America #161.
Zatanna comes from a long line of people with mystical powers. Her father Giovanni Zatara was a powerful magician from the Golden Age of Comics and her mother Sindella belonged to the mystical Homo magi. As a young child, she traveled the world with her father and he taught her the mystical arts on their journey. However, when Allura cursed Zatanna so she could no longer see her parents, Zatanna had to be raised by strangers. She never gave up her quest to find her real parents. Upon discovering her father’s diary, Zatanna created a stage personality and continued the hunt for her family. This search would take her through many different titles within the DC Universe. She even ventured into the Vertigo world and had a relationship with John Constantine. This occurred before the DC, Vertigo and Wildstorm realities were merged from the Flashpoint storyline. Zatanna would eventually find her family, after the Justice League of America helped break Allura’s curse. Sadly her mother died saving Zatanna from the city of the Hidden Ones and her Father died saving her from The Great Evil Beast. Her father’s sacrifice also saved the spiritual dimension from destruction. Zatanna would continually help the Justice League on their missions, but it would take over a decade before they let her become an official member. She would leave the league on several occasions, but they were never far from her heart and mind. She returned to warn the JLA of the Blackest Night events and was vital to defeating the Black Lantern. The battles in Blackest Night took their toll on her mentally and she had to leave the JLA again. Zatanna still managed to fight evil on her own and, in the New 52 Universe, she is a member of the Justice League Dark.
Zatanna is a sorceress, who can manipulate the mystical arts by speaking or writing the magical incantations backwards. She is powerful enough, that there have been times when she has been able to cast a spell by speaking normally. Her powers have fluctuated over the years and at one point they were completely gone. In her weakest form, she only had the ability to manipulate the four elements of air, earth, fire and water. Zatanna compliments her genetic magical abilities with her years of training as a stage performer. Her skills of illusion and sleight of hand can fool all but the most skilled eye. Zatanna’s ability to wield magic has made her a powerful character in DC Comics and an intricate part in the shaping of its universe. The Justice League of America would often have Zatanna erase the memories of their enemies, especially when they learned something that could be deadly for the League or one of its members. During the Identity Crisis storyline, there was debate to have Zatanna use her powers to not only erase Dr. Light’s memories but also transform his personality to stop him from committing any more villainous acts. This decision caused a huge rift amongst the heroes and when Batman tries to intervene his memory of the incident is wiped. When Batman discovers Zatanna erased his memory, his relationship with Zatanna is ruined. This hits an emotional note in the continuity that has Zatanna and Bruce Wayne being childhood friends. They are eventually able to build back their trust in each other, but others are not so forgiving. Zatanna’s use of the mindwipe has led to a falling out with many characters beyond Batman.
Zatanna: The Mistress Of Magic originally wore a costume very similar to her father’s traditional magician’s outfit. Although one look at this ensemble and you can see the obvious differences between what Zatanna wears and what her father would be willing to go out in public with. For starters, Zatanna wears fishnet stockings instead of pants. While high heeled shoes have always been an interesting choice for heroines who physically fight crime, it makes sense for Zatanna, because she tends to throw spells more than punches. Her white dress shirt with a bow tie is nicely contrasted with a yellow cummerbund. Zatanna’s blazer with long coattails secures the stage magician look. The ensemble is completed with the classic top hat and wand. Of course, these are for show and focusing her magical abilities, she did not actually need them to perform magic. This would become Zatanna’s most popular look and is the one she continually returns to. You can’t beat a classic.
When Zatanna finally became a full-fledged member of the Justice League of America, she decided it was time to change her costume. Wanting to look more like a superhero than a stage magician, she went with something resembling the clothing her mother used to wear. Zatanna's outfit was now a large, black, sleeveless leotard. This low cut design was rather plain, so Zatanna wore lots of jewelry. She had large gold bracelets and rings to add some much-needed color. The effect had an almost gypsy appearance. Perhaps she and the Scarlet Witch hang out. Every superhero needs a cape and Zatanna wore a huge red one with a gem clasping it together. This cape could have been worn by a warlock or vampire.
Her Own Look
Zatanna soon came into her own as a superhero and sorceress. To reflect her personal identity, she created a costume that was hers, instead of her parents. This new design would be inspired by the magical tuxedo she originally wore while working as a stage performer and superhero. She wore a simple white cape, held together with a red amulet clasp. The body forming shirt was colored like her tuxedo top and made sure to show off her womanly form. The bell sleeves were large and baggy, perfect for hiding rabbits.
For this update, she decided to go with the classic superheroine thigh-high boots. To add a bit of flair, she started wearing a red headdress. It was prominently displayed on the top of her head and also protected her temples. Superman has his S, Wonder Woman has her W, Robin wears an R and now Zatanna would have a Z on her large round earrings. Labeling is important to heroes.
Zatanna wore an outfit very similar to her original costume but was a little confused over the difference between show performer and showgirl. She mixed the two costumes into something all her own. While much of the original outfit was back; top hat, coattail jacket, bow tie and stockings, the cummerbund was replaced with a corset. The corset could have been added because she gained a little weight during her semi-retirement or she was a big Madonna fan. Only Zatanna knows for sure.
Another popular revision of Zatanna’s original costume is the use of a white vest as a replacement for the yellow cummerbund or corset. This subtle change makes the whole ensemble appear sleeker. This is the style most people prefer to imitate with their costumes and drawings.
Justice League Dark
While fighting in the Justice League Dark, Zatanna created a brand new look but kept the feel of the fan-favorite costume. For the first time, she started wearing pants. The fishnet stocking have been moved to her arms and she has a small, short sleeve, black leather, jacket to match the pants. Not wanting to be completely covered, she simply wears a bodice and skips the shirt completely. Zatanna still wears her classic costume when performing her magic shows. A girl has got to make a living.
Zatanna would see her first live-action appearance in Smallville. Serinda Swan played Zatanna in two episodes in this series about Clark Kent becoming Superman. (Episode 170: Hex & Episode 187: Warrior) Hex deals with the classic story of Zatanna trying to bring back her father. Warrior has Zatanna cleaning up some of her father’s magic. Zatanna also sent a bottle of magic champaign to let Clark get drunk at his bachelor party. However, she only got a shout out and did not appear in the episode.
How to Dress up Like Zatanna
A Zatanna costume can be created by buying a generic female magician/magician assistant costume sold at most Halloween stores.
Fans of the character create more authentic Zatanna costumes.
Google Images (Images appeared on several sites and was unsure of original)