Power of Fishnets 9: Zatanna’s Search Part 5

Ryan Daly reviews part 5 of Zatanna's Search for her missing father. The Princess of Prestidigitation teams up with the Stretchable Sleuth, Ralph Dibny the Elongated Man in a story from Detective Comics #355.

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Music: “She's A Mystery To Me" by Roy Orbison.

Thanks for listening! Evah a ecin yad!

11 responses to “Power of Fishnets 9: Zatanna’s Search Part 5

  1. This whole story is fascinating to me. I think I need to find this trade now.

    Looking at the pages you shared, I think this is a transition point for Infantino. It isn’t the clean early Black Canary Infantino. It isn’t the stiff, rough late Infantino we saw in the early 80s. It is right in the middle, a sort of sweet spot. I definitely like how Zatanna looks here.

    Thanks for covering.

  2. I find Elongated Man an extremely appealing character but never read much of his stuff prior to JLE. This sounds like a great place to start.

    Ryan, have you ever considered the Waiting For Doom coverage model where you cycle around between eras?

    1. I’ve thought about bouncing around different eras. I might do that for the Black Canary coverage, but for now I’m planning to cover Zatanna’s appearances in order from her first appearance until she joins the Justice League and ditches the fishnet costume. After that, I’ll dip into different Zatanna periods.

  3. I love the art on Elongated Man, but I’m a little more iffy on some of the other work in this. It’s not bad but doesn’t sit quite as well. I think it might be because Elongated Man’s power set makes it completely forgivable if his face gets the occasional odd angle or asymmetric feature going on in any given panel. But then I see Zatanna’s face in that third panel she appears in (or the faces of the thieves two panels previous) and it’s just off-putting. She looks great elsewhere, but those sorts of little oddities work for EM himself but not when it spills over to others.

  4. I’m going to be the naysayer here who prefers Carmine a bit more reined in than what we’re seeing here. I love his layouts, but I’ve never been a fan of sketchy comic art. But that’s just me.

    I still prefer Kane’s Zee, but again, my opinion.

    I love Roy Orbison’s “Mystery Girl” (and all things Orbison, honestly) and had it pegged for a Starman Chronicles segment way down the road, but it suits Zatanna better. Great choice!!!


  5. My two favorite Satilite era, not quite yet JLA members meet for the first time. This is, not surprisingly my favorite chapter in the Zatana’s search trade. Its quick and fun.
    Kinda like this comment.

  6. “The Tantalizing Trouble of the Tripod Thieves” is my favorite of the Zatanna’s Search chapters so far, admittedly in part because it’s the shortest, as I hate Silver Age DC Comics in general, especially ones written by Gardner Fox. I also do not like Elongated Man or Carmine Infantino typically, yet here I can see their appeal. The thing I like best about Elongated Man is when artists maintain a toned heroic build even while he’s stretching, as it grounds the action better in reality and heightens awareness that he’s contorting an actual body instead of becoming a weightless cartoon. Plastic Man works best within a fantastical, Dadaist sphere where reality is as flexible as his form, while Mr. Fantastic is best when using his brains instead of becoming a blue garbage bag in the wind.

    Ralph Dibny should be a man who elongates his meat and bones in a manner that defies gravity and proportion but preferably not physics. I like how this fit dude in a skintight uniform projects his knobby knees into the hoods’ faces, kicks out with a distorted but still recognizable leg, or slings his inhumanly long arm to send a goon’s body crashing painfully into a wall. I feel like Ralph would be exhausted and his body would ache after these exercises, because I believe he exists in a recognizable reality. Instead of being the schmuck with the lame power in a JLA story, he’s the impressively powered figure in a more familiar setting. Suddenly, he’s a viable soloist.

    Light dawns on marble head, but in my defense, I have limited exposure to Ralph in his red, yellow, and black uniform. Despite knowing that he was created because Julie Schwartz didn’t know DC owned Plastic Man, I only now see how much Elongated Man was the Silver Age update of the Pliable Paladin. He’s played straight, as Plas was in his original series. The black laces on his plunging open shirt are filled in to form a ebon “V.” There’s a similar yellow striped belt, but the briefs are extended to red pants. During Flashpoint, artists followed this same recipe for altering Plastic Man, but I only now see it’s where Elongated Man was prior to Plas’ revival. No wonder they overemphasized Plas as a “comedic” character for his entire second life at DC.

    I still don’t like Infantino’s art style, as it’s much too loose and sketchy. Sue appears to be the victim of demonic possession in that last panel, and nothing looks all that great besides Ralph, but I can give him a pass because Elongated Man himself works so well. I also like how contained this story is, with the gimmick that involves Ralph the most palatable, and I dig Fantasy Props Incorporated so much I wish Zee ran it instead of the anachronistic traveling stage show. Plus, Zatanna gets to fully participate, show off her raw power in a way that maximizes its impact, and resolves her own adventure with Ralph providing only a key assist. This is possibly the best Elongated Man story I’ve ever read, and the first appearance by Zatanna in the volume where she truly looks capable and competent.

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