Too many people assume that women don't read comics, but they're a much bigger contingent than they're given credit for. That said, it's also known that there are a lot of women who are on that edge of appreciation for nerdy types in general but not that into their actual nerdy hobbies. If you're looking to hook one of these ladies into the habit – the sickness, if you will – you can't go too far wrong with Zatanna #12.
First of all, you've got Zatanna herself, who somehow manages to make dressing like a Vegas showgirl into something cute as a button and not the least bit sleazy. I used to look askance at her for having kind of a cheesy gimmick, but the more I got to know the character, the more her top hat and tails look just felt like pizzazz. Pizzazz and panache. There ain't much snazzier than a gal in a tuxedo… and fine, the fishnets don't hurt, either. Plus, her magic power comes from saying words backwards. That button, it just gets cuter.
In this issue, Matthew Sturges gives us a stand-alone story that features a lot of Zee happily establishing her setting and her daily routines, as well as how magical DC's San Francisco is – literal magic, not like 'oh, gee whiz, look at that touristy bridge!' magical. She memorizes backwards-words with the use of handy flashcards, checks on sleeping dragons, she talks to ghosts and chows down on tacos. That is, until she runs across mer-man murders most malevolent and gets to work.
When she tracks down the culprit, it's this very low-rent wannabe rapper jagoff calling himself Backslash, who would normally be no match for Our Girl Zee. Trouble is, he's somehow bound a distraught fairy pixie to a little sword, so with the flick of his wrist, he can rewind time a few seconds – making it very easy to dodge punches, trident-stabbings and nullify Zee's magic by making the words come out forwards instead of backwards, which surprises her enough to get her tied to a statue and force to listen to him bust rhymes before he decides to make with the murderin'.
What's the key to beating this guy? Palindromes. Palindromes! Magic words backwards the same as they are forward, so the wrist-flick doesn't change the spells! The absolute goofball zeal she shows in dishing out nonsensical spells like "Cats Stack!" and "Ogre Flog A Golfer Go!" to smack this chumpstain around is just charming as all get-out.
And seriously, you can't go wrong with an Amanda Conner cover like the one below, either – unless you just get disappointed that she's not doing the artwork inside, too. But Stephane Roux is no slouch, as his faces look like real people without looking like he's traced from photos somewhere, and that's depressingly rare in comics. If they'd gotten him to follow up Conner's Power Girl run, I might not have dropped that title.
So pick up Zatanna #12, support some books with female leads and maybe turn a girl you know into a nerd right alongside you.