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Zatanna's Origin Has A Tragic Doom Patrol Connection Everyone Forgot About

Contains spoilers for "Knight Terrors: Zatanna" #1

While at first glance, Zatanna and the Doom Patrol might not seem connected, DC Comics is reminding readers that one of the magical hero's most tragic moments is linked to the oddball group of heroes.

In the current "Knight Terrors" event at DC Comics, a new villain, Insomnia, has caused a universe-wide slumber with his search for the Nightmare Stone. Insomnia has forced heroes and villains to confront their darkest and most traumatic nightmares, bringing key moments from their past that have haunted them to life. While Zatanna watches her fellow heroes fall asleep, the powerful magic user is able to use her powers to stay awake. When she's overpowered by evil forces working for Insomnia, she casts a spell to bring her a champion. However, instead of getting one of the heavier hitters in the DC Universe, she brings Robotman of the Doom Patrol to the fight. 

While Zatanna isn't super impressed with Robotman, she does share with him that they have a surprise connection despite never really encountering each other: A member of the Doom Patrol was present at the séance that killed her father, Zatara.

Zatanna's connection to the Doom Patrol is incredibly sad

Giovanni Zatara is one of DC Comics' oldest characters. First appearing in "Action Comics" #1, the magic-casting hero uses spells by speaking phrases and words backward. Zatara regularly appeared in the title throughout the Golden Age before his daughter Zatanna Zatara debuted in 1964's "Hawkman" #4. Zatanna, who has magic powers similar to her dad, eventually became a mainstay in the DC Universe's supernatural side while also joining the Justice League

In Alan Moore and Stephen Bissette's legendary run on "Swamp Thing," Zatanna suffers one of her most significant losses. In the storyline, Swamp Thing and John Constantine assemble some of the greatest supernatural forces on planet Earth (and beyond) to prepare for a dangerous battle against Hell and its forces. While Swamp Thing and Deadman travel in the Spirit World and encounter Doctor Fate and Phantom Stranger, John Constantine holds a séance to combat the Great Darkness. Constantine is joined by several familiar faces, including Zatara, Zatanna, Dr. Occult, and Mento (one of the first new members of the original Doom Patrol team), the latter of whom's psionic abilities connect them to Spirit World and the threats they face.

Unfortunately, the séance becomes too much for Mento to handle as the dark forces at play overcome him. As a result, Zatanna is targeted to be killed, with Zatara casting a spell "ssenkrad ekat em daestsni," making him the target instead. He saves his daughter but violently explodes in her place. While the surviving séance members turn the tide of the battle, it came at a tremendous personal cost for Zatanna with her father's death. Now, face-to-face with Robotman, she can't help but be reminded of the encounter that changed her life forever.

Zatanna puts aside her differences against a common foe

"Knight Terrors: Zatanna" #1 by Dennis Culver, David Baldeon, Rain Beredo, and Pat Brosseau sees Zatanna reluctantly work with Robotman of the Doom Patrol, with his robot body preventing him from falling asleep like their fellow heroes. It makes him one of the few people available for a magical house call. Still, Zatanna calls the Doom Patrol a "distraction" while noting she still has nightmares about Mento's look in his eyes during the séance that caused her father's death.

While Zatanna is initially icy to Robotman, when he explains the Doom Patrol has lost many members over the years and he doesn't want to let anyone else down, she warms up to him. She apologizes for blaming him and acting out due to his presence while noting his being there is a painful reminder of her past, but ultimately, not his fault. Unfortunately for both heroes, they are continually chased by Insomnia's dark forces, sending undead versions of their closest fallen friends and allies (including Zatara) to try to stop them. While Zatanna and Robotman make for a surprisingly great team, Robotman is transformed into a monster by Insomnia's Sleepless Knights. Now, it will be up to Zatanna to save Robotman and turn him back from a nightmare to his usual robot self. Zatanna working alongside the Doom Patrol again ended horrifyingly, with issue two featuring the DC Comics icon trying to save Cliff Steele while trying to put their shared history behind her. Zatanna might not be in a nightmare, but her normal reality has undoubtedly become one.

Readers can see Zatanna and Robotman's encounter in "Knight Terrors: Zatanna" #1 by DC Comics, which is now available at comic book stores and online retailers.