03 October 2009

Women Make Comics Magic: Zee and Wanda

I've had a few emails lately from abbracadabblers asking me what Raley. my next door neighbor and best girl buddy. What's she been doing? Is Raley ever going to write a guest blog? Dabblers, rest assured, Raley's doing just fine. She's been a little busy the past week, but I've got no doubt that she'll be hanging around the Present Magic Comics offices again soon.
In her honor, today's LongBox Short is a brief albeit beautiful tribute to comics' two Leading Ladies of Magick. Both of these women are as popular among fans as they are insanely powerful super heroes.
Marvel's House of M event in 2005 would never have sold over 233,000 copies of its debut issue if not for Wanda Maximoff a.k.a The Scarlet Witch. A long-time member of the superhero team The Avengers, Wanda House of M-for-Maximoff suffered a mental breakdown and single-handedly exterminated nearly every mutant man, woman, and child in the Marvel Universe.
Yet such a feat proves a mere parlor trick when compared to The Scarlet Witch's real House of M accomplishment. Her out-of-control magicks provided the editors of Marvel's many X-Men-related titles the plausible excuse they needed to reign-in story lines which, since Grant Morrison ended his three-year run on New X-Men the year before, had become hapless victims of their own chaos magick.
Stuff happens, right? Of course, Wanda's role in bringing the X-books back to basics was only fitting. A mutant herself and one of Stan Lee's many creations, The Scarlet Witch first appeared in 1964 with Issue #4 of Marvel's original X-Men series. From those humble beginnings, Wanda's star has only risen. Ranking 97th among The 200 Greatest Comic Book Characters of All-Time by Wizard Magazine, Raley and I are both certain The Scarlet Witch will once again be loved as Marvel's sorceress supreme.
Her full name is "Zatanna Zatarra," but DC Comics' most popular magic-user plays it like Madonna and prefers just Zatanna. With today's trend of naming girls everything from Shanequa to Rhondaleesha, it's kind of surprising Zatanna isn't more popular. After all, Zatanna's legacy in the world of comics is one of the oldest. Zatanna's father, the tuxedoed Zatarra The Magician, was created by Superman's Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster and debuted alongside their Man of Steel in Action Comics #1 (1938). Zatanna herself wasn't seen until 1964, when she made her first teen-aged appearance in the fourth issue of Hawkman.
Since her arrival, Zatanna has grown-up. Her friends have called her Zee for decades, and her fans overwhelmingly voted her to be the Justice League of America's newest member back in 1978. Whenever the JLA gets into a bind even Superman can't solve, Zatanna's there to save their necks, and when she's not superheroing, she's on stage in San Francisco practicing everyday magic.
While Zatanna's best known for casting spells by talking backward and for wearing her trademark fishnet hosiery (giving the Black Canary a big run for her money), her character has also become central to the discussion of religion in comic books**. Her beliefs haven't kept Zee back, however; she's recently been running around with the Seven Soldiers of Victory and even popped into Smallville's eighth season to make a few wishes come all-too-true in the episode, Hex.
(1) Thanks to Diablo2003 for his talented portraits of Wanda and Zee. You can find wallpaper-sized images of both those magical mavens on his Deviant Art page.
(2) **I'll touch more on the subject of Comics and Religion in future blogs to be found only here at abbracadabbling.
Did you enjoy LongBox Short? If you would like to see your favorite hero or heroine featured like Wanda and Zee, be sure to write into our Back Issues and let us know! Thanks, dabblers...

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