It’s Zatanna Zatara as you’ve never seen her before: starring in her own DC Black Label limited miniseries! Mariko Tamaki and Javier Rodríguez make magic together in Zatanna: Bring Down the House, an intriguing new story starring everyone’s favorite backwards-speaking spellcaster. But this Zatanna isn’t a member of the Justice League, a superhero, or even comfortable being called a magician. She’s settled down in Sin City to headline her own show, performing tricks and illusions at the worst hotel off the Strip.

But Zatanna can’t escape who she truly is, no matter how much she wants to.

The enchanting first issue opens with a pre-teen Zatanna trying her hardest to show some other kids a magic trick, the sleight-of-hand kind. The biggest of them has no patience for the aspiring illusionist, however, and teases her mercilessly when her trick doesn’t go as planned. She walks home with his insults ringing in her ears. Zatanna asks her imposing father for help with magic—real magic. She tries her trick again later, and when the bully mocks her even more, she snaps and mutters something…backwards.

Years later, she wakes up from a bad dream in her studio apartment in Vegas. Zatanna’s place is littered with magic tricks and props for her stage show, and her only companions are her pet rabbits. (Which are acting a little weird.) She goes for a run through the city and into the desert. She looks down and sees—in a wonderfully unsettling panel—two shadows beneath her.

This is my favorite page of the first issue, not just because it’s obviously creepy as all get-out. Just look at the claws on that shadow! This scene slyly shows us that Zatanna is obviously on the run from what she did in the past, but there’s nowhere she can hide from it. It also demonstrates to the reader that she’s perceptive enough to notice the unusual shadow and, instead of panicking, she turns to face it. It disappears, and she keeps running.

Later, Zatanna preps for her stage show at The Golden Dice. Rodríguez’s warm colors, paired with Zatanna’s feathered hair and used car, give this scene a delightful retro vibe of Vegas in days gone by. A recruiter approaches Zatanna for a bigger gig at a more upscale hotel, but she refuses, content to stay in her own little corner of Vegas. Her eponymous show has a permanent place in The Golden Dice that brings in a few people every time. In fact, there’s a new regular, who seems a little too interested in watching Zatanna on stage.

Zatanna performs her tricks and illusions flawlessly with a big grin and a charming stage presence. But when she sees the suspicious audience member again, she’s had enough—and much like the shadow in the desert, she faces the problem head-on. But this time the problem doesn’t just disappear and fade into nothingness. This time it compounds and threatens to destroy her as it becomes all too clear that Zatanna will no longer be able to simply ignore her past. Despite how it may have seemed in the desert earlier, it’s finally caught up with her.

Zatanna: Bring Down the House is the perfect first issue. Whether you’re familiar with Zatanna and her powers, or this is your first time reading a story that she stars in, Tamaki and Rodríguez effortlessly make you feel acquainted with her. She’s haunted by her past, and even though it was an accident, she’ll never be able to escape it. It’s the one problem she avoids facing, but the first issue tells us that the time has finally come to do so. It’s a fantastic set-up for the story and asks some big questions: What happened to the bully? What happened to Zatanna’s father? Who is the stranger who knows so much about Zatanna? And what in the heck is going on in the ending? Fittingly, it’s all absolute magic, and I can’t wait to read the next part of the story to find out more.

Zatanna: Bring Down the House #1 by Mariko Tamaki and Javier Rodríguez is now available in print and as a digital comic book.

Kelly Knox writes about all-ages comics and animation for, and the author of several nonfiction books about some of your favorite film franchises. Follow her on Twitter at @kelly_knox to talk superheroes, comics and pop culture.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Kelly Knox and do not necessarily reflect those of DC or Warner Bros. Discovery, nor should they be read as confirmation or denial of future DC plans.