John Zatara, a descendant of the Homo Magi as well as being an illusionist, had genuine magical powers, which he focused through speaking backwards: he could do anything so long as he could describe it in sdrawkcab hceeps ("backwards speech", spelled backwards).
His love of magic began early when he was given a magic kit by his uncle, himself a professional illusionist. Although he began learning the craft in childhood, his early attempts at performing professionally were unsuccessful until he realized that he needed to work on his showmanship.
To that end, he dug up old diaries of Leonardo da Vinci, who was a direct ancestor. While reading the diaries, which Leonardo wrote in backwards spelling as a security precaution, Zatara learned that his family had the command of magic. He discovered this inadvertently when he accidentally gave a command to a mannequin to begin waving an arm wildly. Zatara realized that he could command it to stop by giving the order in backwards spelling.
With this new knowledge, Zatara developed a successful show. During the premiere performance a fire broke out on stage, forcing Zatara to use his command of real magic to put it out. While the audience mistook the incident as part of the act, Zatara realized that this power could be invaluable in helping people and he resolved to use it as such between shows.
John Zatara, his daughter Zatanna, John Constantine and Sargon the Sorcerer, among others, come together to help demonic and divine forces in other hellish dimensions battle the Great Evil Beast. The Beast takes notice of their group twice. The first glimpse burns Sargon, whom Zatara convinces to "die like a Sorcerer" and not break the holding of hands. Sargon burns to death nobly. The second glance literally heats up Zatanna but Zatara willingly takes the effect onto himself, dying but sparing his daughter's life. The Beast is ultimately neutralized by other forces.
Since then he has made sporadic appearances in the afterlife, including resurrecting Mason O'Dare.
His nephew, Zachary, now uses the Zatara name as a stage magician and crimefighter.
Reign In Hell
Zatara is leading the resistance in Hell and currently wonders what reaction his daughter will have.
Powers and AbilitiesEdit
- Sorcery: Zatara speaks his spells backward as a aid to concentrate. For example, saying "tegrof" would cause the target of the spell to forget something. The limits of Zatara's powers are unknown, and are far from concrete.
Prestidigitation: Zatara is skilled in stage magic, performing simple illusions.
Hand-to-Hand Combat (Basic): John Zatara is an accomplished hand-to-hand combatant.
John Zatara possessed the strength level of a man his age, size and weight who engaged in minimal regular exercise.
The only known limit to Zatara's magic is the time it takes for him to say the spell, including figuring out how to pronounce a phrase in "back-speech".
- Although this character was originally introduced during DC's Golden Age era of publication, their existence following the events of the 1985-86 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths remains intact. However, some elements of the character's Pre-Crisis history may have been altered or removed for Post-Crisis New Earth continuity, and should be considered apocryphal.
- 250 Appearances of John Zatara (New Earth)
- 8 Images featuring John Zatara (New Earth)
- 1 Quotations by or about John Zatara (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: John Zatara (New Earth)
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