There have been magician characters in comic books for a long time. In fact, the very first superhero in comics is considered to be Mandrake the Magician. He premiered in a syndicated strip in 1934, where he performed as a stage magician and used his hypnotic powers to fight criminals. He also appeared in Magic Comics for a decade beginning in 1939, and Dell, King Comics, and even Marvel have featured him.
Harry Blackstone senior had his own comic book series featuring a fictionalized version of himself in Blackstone Master Magician Comics beginning in 1946. The name was changed to Blackstone the Magician Detective, which was the title of his weekly radio show (also fictionalized with an actor doing his voice). He also appeared in Super Magic Comics.
Quiz for the day: Who were the only two female comic book heroes to wear fishnet stockings? Both are from DC Comics. One was the Black Canary, and the other was Zatanna, the stage magician with actual powers. They did appear in a graphic novel together- Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell. Okay, I admit it. I am a bit of a comic book geek and I do have a nice collection of magic themed comics.
Zatanna Zatara first appeared in the comics in 1964, so she has been around awhile. She is a stage magician who inherited actual powers from her father, stage magician Giovanni “John” Zatara. He first appeared in the 1938 Action Comics #1, and if you have an extra copy lying around, I would love to add it to my collection, but maybe for less than the $3 million the last one sold for. I do like that the most valuable comic in history includes a magician, along with the introduction of some flying guy in blue tights and a cape. John actually had more to do with Batman, being a friend of Bruce Wayne’s father and helping him meet his future wife, Martha.
Zatanna’s dad turned out to have a lot of problems, including alcoholism, but Zatanna managed to grow up as a smart, heroic and powerful hero. In fact, while there have been many magician characters with real powers, including Doctor Strange, Zatanna is considered to be the most powerful of all of them.
She has gone through a number of versions over the years. She worked closely with the Justice League. She dated Batman. Comic book god Neil Gaiman did The Books of Magic limited series featuring her. She has been animated in Batman: The Animated Series, Gotham Girls, Batman Beyond, Justice League Unlimited, DC Super Hero Girls, and many more. She appeared on Smallville. She even got her own comic book series beginning in 2010.
In 2018 there was a lot of talk from Warner Brothers about a Zatanna movie, but that seems to have fizzled. Still, it is nice to have a woman magician that can defeat almost any super villain. Yes, she is often depicted sexily, and some may find that sexist, and she really has needed to update her 1950s burlesque look, which is finally happening. In the New 52 series, she finally gets to wear pants. Times are changing.