Zatanna is a fictional superheroine who appears in United States books published by DC Comics. The character was created by Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson, and it first appeared in Hawkman #4.
Like her father Giovanni "John" Zatara, Zatanna is both a magician on stage and a real magician. As such, she has many of her father's powers associated with witchcraft, typically controlled by her incantations using backward written words. He is known for her association with the Justice League, her recognised childhood friendship with Batman, and her interaction with characters including Vertigo romantic partner John Constantine. Zatanna made her first live action appearance as a recurring character in the final three seasons of Smallville, played by the actress Serinda Swan.
Zatanna is the daughter of the magician Giovanni Zatara who appeared on Golden Age comic books and Sindella as a member of the supernatural Homo magi race. Her younger brother, Zachary Zatara, works as a magician at the DCU, too. Zatanna makes her live on stage as an illusionist, before discovering her supernatural powers while investigating the disappearance of her father. Her original costume is based on her father's costume but replaces high heels with fishnet stockings and slacks. Zatanna's search for her father was the focus of a storyline featured in several comics published by Julius Schwartz, in which Zatanna interacts with Hawkman and Hawkgirl; battles Batman and Robin disguised as witch and under the power of the outsider villain; and partners with the Atom, the Green Lantern and the Elongated Man. The storey ended in League of American Justice # 51.
The Justice League storey occurred during the craze of Batman TV, when Batman was at the height of his fame. The suggestion that Zatanna was the witch in Detective Comics # 336 was perceived as an attempt to include Batman in this Justice League of America issue no matter how unclear the relation with the quest for Zatanna was. She was briefly featured in the 1971 to 1973 backup storeys of Adventure Comics and Supergirl. Zatanna assists the American Justice League on a few missions before being elected to the leadership of the Justice League of America # 161. Soon after Zatanna entered the group there was a multi-issue storyline uncovering the identity of her mother.
Zatanna joined forces with Superman and Batman in The Brave and the Bold in DC Comics Presents. A ten-page short storey in DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest # 5 revealed new knowledge about Zatara's origins, and how Zatanna's quest for her father began. During her time with the Justice League, her power level diminishes, so that she can control only the four elements of earth, air, fire and water. She appeared in a backup feature in World's Finest Comics # 274–278, and the limitation of her powers is reversed in World's Finest Comics # 277. She helps Wonder Woman ward off an alien invasion, and several other superheroins. Zatanna is one of the DC universe's most powerful witches, who obviously has genetic capabilities. Typically she casts spells by voicing verbal orders backwards as a reference to her father and as a focal point. She has proved capable of casting spells on many occasions by speaking spontaneously and being able to use magic without speaking in rarer circumstances for simple tasks.
Like Black Canary, Zatanna's reliance on her voice often lets villains tie her and gag her, a measure that makes her "powerless." On very rare occasions, Zatanna has cast spells by writing them in her own blood instead of acting them out aloud. It is used as a last resort, only to recover from severe physical harm that impedes her speech, such as having her larynx mangled by a bullet or her mouth suddenly damaged by her own powers. The only magical order given in both cases, Cure me, had to be spelled backwards, as if she were speaking.