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Ame-Comi Heroine Series
by yo go re

Trick or treat!

Full of Halloween hocus pocus, DC's mystical maven of magic celebrates her favorite holiday by donning festive orange and black tails and top hat. Perfoming a special show for her adoring fans, Z is assisted by her not-so-scary bunny monster.

Reviewing the DC Direct Ame-Comi girls may have been Artemis's purview, but that doesn't mean I never bought any of them. Not as many as I would have liked, because they're more expensive than they should have been, but a few of them - Black Canary, Batgirl (well, her black repaint, in any case), Cheetah, Hawkgirl... and of course, Zatanna.

This figure, released just in time for Halloween in 2011, is obviously just the Series 4 figure, done in a new colorway. "Colorway," it turns out, is not just a flamingly pretentious way for toy collectors to refer to a repaint: the term has been around since at least April 10, 1949, when it appeared on page 48 in a New York Times Magazine article titled "New Ideas and Inventions"; it comes from the world of textiles, where it referred to the various colorschemes available for any specific pattern. Like a palette swap, but for fabric instead of pixels. Applying it to toys is still pretty fricking pretentious, though.

The best change this repaint brings to the figure is her head - or specifically, her hair. The original release chose to give her blue hair with blue highlights. You can kind of tell what they were going for, but boy did it not work! The new figure turns her hair back to its normal black, and retains the stylized highlights on her bangs (gray, in this case).

Of course, the hair isn't going to be the first thing you notice about the repaint. Befitting her status as a Halloween repaint, she's clad all in black and orange. And it's not just a question of trading white for orange on the paint masks (though that still would have looked pretty good) - what was white is black, and what was black is orange. Her eyes are the same color (or close enough, at least), and her tie is now a metallic mint green. The hatband and the lining of her coat are dark green - so dark that they look black under most lighting conditions.

Zatanna's traditional costume - fishnets, corset, jacket - has been translated to the Ame-Comi style with very few changes. She's not wearing a shirt under the bustier, but that comes and goes anyway. Her orange bra just peeks out the top, and is matched on the bottom (but not on much of her bottom) by a thong. The cuffs and lapels on her coat, the band on her hat, and the folded upper edges of her thigh-high boots have a very nice brocade pattern (it's also matched by small panels on the top of her foot). The corset/bustier thing has two long tails - longer even than the tails on her coat - that hang off the front and wrap around to the back.

Naturally, she's wearing her fishnets - and since this toy has no articulation to worry about, they're made of fabric. But as Artemis asked all those years ago, why, if they can make seamless fishnets at human size, can they not make seamless fishnets at a smaller size? The positioning of the seams is chosen to help hide them in the most common poses, but they're still unavoidably there. And the stocking on the right leg on my toy is pulling out of her boot, so that will need to be repaired.

Halloween Zee comes with the same removable magic wand the first version had, and it's still clutched in her right hand (duh), with three fingers curled around the shaft and the index finger extended. What is changed is her hat. Rather than a puff of green magic, she's got the "bunny monster" mentioned in the bio. It's a purple little creature, with a jagged red mouth, a pink triangle nose, and squinty black eyes. It's smooth and rounded and looks like a marshmallow Peep come to life. It rises out of her hat adorably, but is non-removable.

This figure came out after DC Direct realized "hey, maybe our customers don't want to have to accommodate a 6¼" circular base under every toy they buy," so she's got the second, smaller style of base. It's an oval, 3" x 5½", and features the Ame-Comi logo in orange on its face. Since she's wearing those tall wedge heels, the base doesn't have any fancily shaped supports to hold her up, just two normal footpegs.

Zatanna is good as a Halloween decoration, but her bright orange limits her displayability the rest of the year. If the original had this head (and the bunny instead of the smoke), she'd be much more appealing. Of course, if she had articulation, she'd be even better than that (she does have wrist swivels, but you know what we mean). Udon turned in some creative designs for the Ame-Comi line, and Jon Matthews sculpted the heck out of them, but paying more for a statue than you would for an equivalent action figure seems counterintuitive.

-- 10/31/13

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