DC vs Marvel: Zatanna vs Emma Frost
For as long as there have been comic books, there has been the feud between DC and Marvel. Both are heavy-hitting comic companies that continue to gain legions of fans every year. The purpose of this column is to take one DC persona and one Marvel persona of equal measure and popularity and pit them against each other to see who would come out on top and who is a better character overall.
Zatanna first appeared in 1964. Her father was the famous magician Zatara and her mother was a member of a mystical race called the Homo Magi. With magic in her blood she became a successful stage illusionist and soon discovered her own powers exploring both of her parent’s magical heritage throughout her life. Zatanna got involved with Batman while investigating the disappearance of her father and later joined the rest of the Justice League. She’s used her mind wipe powers to erase or alter memories of others on multiple occasions, including Dr. Light and Selina Kyle. Zatanna remained close friends with Bruce Wayne and went on to continue to stage career and join the Sentinels of Magic. Despite her ups and downs with her powers, Zatanna worked as a reserve member of the Justice League and a regular guardian against mystical threats. In the New 52 reboot Zatanna works with the Justice League Dark.
Emma Frost first showed up in Uncanny X-Men in 1980. Emma grew up in Boston as the daughter of wealthy merchants. Emma and her two sisters discovered that they were mutants with telepathic abilities that became apparent as they got older. Emma made her money by becoming a stockholder of a multi-billion dollar company which she became chair of. After becoming a dancer for the Hellfire Club Emma joined up with Sebastian Shaw as he planned to achieve world domination. She became the White Queen after taking control of the Council of the Chosen (renamed The Inner Circle). She recruited members to her mutant super-team, the Hellions, which eventually teamed up with the X-Men. Emma’s story has consistently been in the grey zone: she runs a academy to teach mutant children but also shot and killed her sister for her inheritance. She is known for being a character that walks the line between good and evil. While Zatanna has been around longer Emma has had many more interesting and complex storylines.
Point: Emma Frost
Zatanna possesses powerful magic due to her unique genetic structure and her affinity for learning new skills. She casts spells by speaking backwards and can do any number of things including: aerokinesis, chronokinesis, deflection, energy blast, and create force fields. She can also heal herself and others from injury control the elements, change her size, read minds, erase memories, teleport, transform, and even fly. While a member of the Justice League Zatanna learned to advance hand-to-hand combat. Despite her seemingly endless list of abilities Zatanna’s power has come and gone over the years and she has a vulnerability to certain enchantments and must be able to speak or read to focus her spells.
Emma Frost is one of the most powerful mutants in the Marvel universe. She is known for her telepathic powers which allow her to read and control minds. She can also alter someone memories, induce paralysis and cast illusions. Emma can activate or boost a mutant’s powers by accessing their neurological pathways and communicate mentally across long distances. However, if her enemies use mental scramblers they can prevent her from accessing their minds. As far as defensive powers, Emma can also transform her body into an organic diamond which makes her near invulnerable and ridiculously strong. Both women are insanely powerful but Emma’s widespread telepathic abilities and diamond form give her the edge over Zatanna.
Point: Emma Frost
Zatanna was born a member of the Homo Magi race which gives her natural magic abilities. When her father went missing she joined up with Batman, Atom, and Elongated man to find him and later assisted the Justice League of America on some of their cases. She eventually received full membership to the JLA, departed, and rejoined as a reserve member. Zatanna has also been a member of the Sentinels of Magic. In the New 52 reboot Zatanna is a member of The Justice League Dark.
Emma Frost is famous for being a member of the X-Men. She has been a leader in the group as well as at the academy. Emma has also been affiliated with other groups, including the Hellfire Club and The Inner Circle. Despite being known for being an X-Men, Emma’s loyalty is always questionable which makes her seemingly strong affiliations not strong enough to beat Zatanna’s bond with The Justice League.
Zatanna wears a distinctive costume that includes a tuxedo with fishnets instead of pants and a top hat. In the reboot her outfit is less cartoony and is made up of black pants and boots, a white corset top, and a black jacket with fishnet sleeves. She often carries a magic wand, even though she doesn’t need it to cast spells. Zatanna doesn’t have a large arsenal but she doesn’t need one and her costume is one of the most distinctive in the DC universe.
Emma Frost also has a well-known costume. She is mostly decked out in some variation of white lingerie (or a costume that may as well be). Emma herself considers wearing little clothing another way for her to have power over others and comic book readers definitely took note. Emma doesn’t have any weapons to speak of, since her powers come from her mind.
Both women suffer from tacky revealing costumes but Zatanna’s look is a lot more memorable and unique.
Zatanna is considered to be DC’s “greatest minor hero”. In 1993 she has her own four-issue series and a 16 issue series from 2010 to 2011. Zatanna ranked fourth in Comics Buyer’s Guide’s “100 Sexiest Women in Comics” list. She has shown up in many different animated television shows including Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Justice League Unlimited, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and Young Justice. Zatanna as portrayed by Serinda Swan was a reoccurring character in the final three seasons of Smallville. Zatanna is also a playable character in the videogames Justice League Heroes and Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes.
Emma Frost is a staple in most X-Men productions and is well-known by Marvel fans. Emma came in as #30 (Marvel’s highest ranking female) on Empire’s Top 50 Greatest Comic Book Characters in 2008 and took 69th place on Wizard’s 200 Greatest Characters of All Time List in 2008. She was also named 5th Sexiest Woman in Comics by Comic Buyer’s Guide. She has appeared in many animated television shows including X-Men and Wolverine and the X-Men as well as the 12 episode X-Men anime. Finola Hughes played Emma in the 1996 made-for-tv movie Generation X. In 2011’s X-Men: First Class January Jones plays Emma Frost as the secondary antagonist. There is no word yet on whether or not Emma will be appearing in the upcoming sequel. Emma has also been in multiple video games including The Uncanny X-Men, X-Men Legends, and Marvel Super Hero Squad Online.
Both Zatanna and Emma Frost are staples in their respective universes, showing up as team players in famous groups. While any DC comic fan knows who Zatanna is, Emma Frost has a reputation that extends beyond just readers. With her recent appearance in X-Men: First Class Emma has become even more famous. Zatanna is definitely powerful but almost always plays second-fiddle to the male characters around her. Emma, on the other hand, is considered to be one of the most powerful Marvel characters on her own right and is a great example of a strong woman in comics, which is why she wins this round.
Point: Emma Frost.
Both Zatanna and Emma are mega-powerful comic book characters that can hold their own in a fight. Both have distinctive powers and costumes and are pretty well known to comic book readers. But Emma’s extra popularity, extra power, and extra awesome representation of a strong female comic book character gives her the win in this battle of DC vs. Marvel.