AT FIRST GLANCE, the new "

Zatanna

" series from DC would seem to have at least two obstacles to being a successful ongoing franchise - a female lead and an optimistic worldview. But "Zatanna" also has some magic up her sleeve, thanks to the writing of

Paul Dini

and art of

Stephanie Roux

.

They provide us with a book and a character that offer more than initially meets the eye.

This seems appropriate for a series starring an illusionist, who, when not on call with the Justice League, performs for audiences like a superpowered David Copperfield. So determined is she to give a good show and so confident in her abilities, she thinks nothing of having characters dressed like doppelgangers of her deadliest enemies as part of her performance.

While Zatanna has been considered D-list at best for much of her existence, writers like Brad Meltzer have succeeded in getting her taken more seriously. Dini takes that a few steps further. As the creator of Madame Mirage and husband of an actual magician, he seems to take joy in exploring the myriad possibilities inherent in crafting her tales.

Dini takes elements of the character that could very easily come across as corny - saying spells backward, for instance - and makes them strengths. His dialogue is so crisp you won't mind figuring out that "Sepor Dnib Meht" translates to "Ropes Bind Them".

Besides Zatanna's attractive figure, Dini adds other little touches to remind us she is a female character, such as when she pines for a bubble bath and a glass of merlot or when she feels she is being hit on by a detective.

Turns out the detective was only preparing her for an especially gruesome crime scene, perpetrated by Brother Night, who, after running the mystic underworld of San Francisco for 40 years, is now expanding and is determined to take the mortal half. This brings out a harsh, threatening side of Zatanna, who in a Batman-like way, warns Night to stay out of her territory - the human world.

Roux draws Zatanna as breathtakingly beautiful, but she and Dini present her in a somewhat more modest, classy way than your typical curvy, comic-book bombshell.

One of Dini's challenges is to portray Zatanna as powerful, yet with limits to her power and facing true challenges - perhaps the greatest being to adhere to her ideal that, even though the world is a scary place, showing people the friendlier aspects of magic will benefit everyone.

In a comics marketplace where darkness and disillusionment dominate, and where solo series featuring female characters generally don't enjoy long runs, Zatanna's positive outlook and her series seem destined not to last. But to quote the character, she has a different opinion.

"I've often said destiny's overrated," she tells Night at one point. "I'd rather create my future one day at a time."

Let's hope Dini will help draw enough readers to this title to ensure there are many more days to come.

Scary Cherry rocks Philly

Lezlie Deane and her group, Scary Cherry and the Bang Bangs, are coming to town.

Deane, who helped "kill" Freddy Krueger as Tracy in 1991's "Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare," says her rock band is tentatively scheduled to hit Philly July 31.

Deane, who also appears in and is helping to promote the "Nightmare" documentary "Never Sleep Again," says the horror franchise has a simple appeal.

"It's just basically about surviving," Deane told Comics Guy. "Just one more thing to go through and overcome. That's why the series has become a classic."

Unlike some, Deane doesn't believe the role typecast her - and wouldn't care if it did.

"I got cast as the hooker with a heart of gold or the tough girl everyone falls in love with a lot. So I don't think I was typecast, but if I was? Fine by me. I've had a great career - and now I'm having fun with Scary Cherry."

For information on Scary Cherry and the Bang Bangs, including tour schedule, check out ScaryCherry.com.

Glyph Awards announced

The Glyph Awards, which honor African-American work and creators, were announced in Philadelphia recently. The winners were: story of the year, "Unknown Soldier Nos. 13-14", Joshua Dysart, writer, and Pat Masioni, artist; best writer, Alex Simmons, "Archie & Friends"; best artist, Jay Potts, "World of Hurt"; best male character, Isaiah Pastor, "World of Hurt", created by Jay Potts, writer and artist; best female character, Aya, "Aya: The Secrets Come Out", created by Marguerite Abouet, writer, Clement Oubrerie, artist; Rising Star Award for best self-publisher, Jay Potts, "World of Hurt"; best reprint publication, "Aya: The Secrets Come Out"; best comic strip, "The K Chronicles", Keith Knight, writer and artist; Fan Award for best comic, "Luke Cage Noir", Mike Benson and Adam Glass, writers, Shawn Martinbrough, artist.