Not entirely sure why they never headlined her in her own series until much, much later. She actually joins the JLA quite late as well. However, she is a character worth exploring but I don't think there will be too many major Zatanna key issues to be honest.
Anyways, here's the 1st part to this series.
1st appearance of Zatanna
When it comes to a story arc that spans multiple titles in comics, Hawkman #4 and the first appearance of Zatanna has to be the first crossover story event to do so. Today, this story arc is better known as Zatanna's Search and is collected as such in reprints.
Hawkman #4 begins the first chapter to this story, and it runs through Detective Comics #336, The Atom #19, Green Lantern #42, Detective Comics #355, and ends with Justice League of America #51. However, this is not a major crossover event, but it would set the precedent for those to happen later.
This story dealt with Zatanna trying to reconnect with her father Zatara, and while searching for him, she happens to run into and garner the help of Hawkman, the Atom, Batman, Robin, Green Lantern, and the Elongated Man. DC legend Gardner Fox wrote the story and that's no big surprise.
The legendary comic genius is also responsible for creating the Justice Society of America and the Justice League of America.
Hawkman #4 was published November, 1964.
DETECTIVE COMICS #336
2nd appearance of Zatanna as the Witch
Detective Comics #336 doesn't really show the character of Zatanna. She is disguised as the Witch. However, if Ultron has a 1st appearance in disguise as the Crimson Cowl in Avengers #54, I suppose this counts as well.
So Overstreet doesn't even bother to note this issue as anything. Actually, they don't bother to note any of her later appearances after her 1st in Hawkman #4.
Anyway, this issue is part of the Zatanna's Search story line, and that story line is starting to be considered the first DC crossover story event that spans multiple titles.
Detective Comics #336 was published February, 1965.
THE ATOM #19
2nd full appearance of Zatanna
1st Zatanna cover
Okay, here's where things get tricky. So this could or should be the 2nd full appearance of Zatanna. I say full appearance because Zatanna does make an earlier appearance as the Witch in Detective Comics issue #336. However, she is not revealed to be the Witch in that story.
Zatanna does not reveal to Batman that she was the Witch until Justice League of America #51.
Because she was in disguise, Batman had no recollection of ever meeting Zatanna in Justice League of America #51 when they "officially" meet. So since, she was in disguise, Atom #19 should be the first full Zatanna classic crossover as well the 2nd full appearance of Zatanna.
Of course, as stated earlier, Overstreet notes this as a "Zatanna x-over", but CGC does recognize this as Zatanna's 2nd appearance. I think it should be a "2nd full appearance", but CGC doesn't even recognize Zatanna as the "Witch" in Detective Comics #336.
So, who knows? Atom #19 was published June, 1965.
3rd appearance of Zatanna
1st meeting of Zatanna and Green Lantern
No mistake that this is the 3rd full appearance of Zatanna, and she is fully part of this story that takes place in Green Lantern #42. Yes, this issue also sees the first meeting between Zatanna and Green Lantern, Hal Jordan.
I'm noting this as Zatanna's 3rd classic crossover. She is as herself throughout the issue, and it's a bit fishy why she would need to disguise herself in Detective Comics #336 when she meets all the other DC heroes in this story event perfectly fine as herself? Kinda strange, but whatever.
Completely overlooked and not well-known for it's key issue goodness at the moment. The cover to this issue displays Zatanna fully and it's her 2nd comic cover. Green Lantern #42 was published January, 1966.
4th appearance of Zatanna
Alrighty, Zatanna furthers her crossover career in this issue, but not in the Batman story. She actually meets the Elongated Man in a back up feature in this issue, and this story continues the first crossover story event in DC Comics.
The story is The Tantalizing Troubles of the Tripod Thieves, and I'm pretty sure this is the first meeting between the Elongated Man and Zatanna as well. Neither CGC nor Overstreet is noting this as the 4th appearance of Zatanna currently.
Detective Comics #355 was published September, 1966.
3rd Zatana cover
5th appearance of Zatanna
Ends Zatanna's Search story event
Here's the issue that ends Zatanna's search for her father Zatara. This issue here also ends the crossover event that first introduces one of DC Comics' most iconic and popular female magicians/super heroines.
Of course, Zatanna finds her father, and Batman doesn't recall ever meeting Zatanna, because she was in disguise when the first two met in Detective Comics #336.
So not sure whether to note this as the first meeting between Zatanna and Batman or Detective Comics #336. I suppose this is the first real meeting between Batman and Zatanna as herself.
This issue holds the 1st appearance of Allura as well. Allura is a powerful magic user and Mistress of the Dark Elements. Allura is the mortal enemy of Zatanna and the Homo Magi race that Zatanna and her father Zatara belong to.
Other than that, this is the 5th Zatanna crossover and her 5th appearance in comics, and no she is not a member of the Justice League of America just yet. February, 1967 was when this comic was published
These Zatanna key issues in Part One, I pretty much covered in other key issues lists on this site before. I did add some new info or key notations if there were any.
I chose Green Lantern #42 as the 2nd Zatanna cover even though she is on the cover of Detective Comics #336 as the Witch. However, it seems that industry doesn't count that as her 2nd appearance so why count it as her 1st comic cover, right?
Anyways, we got more Zatanna key issues in Part 2. Just click the blue link below and see ya soon!