He first appeared in the June 1938 issue of Action Comics #1, notable for the introduction of another famous golden age superhero, Superman.
"Zatara Master Magician" was by Fred Guardineer and ran from pages 20 to 31.
From the beginning Zatara spoke his spells backwards. Mostly to give him something different than the other magicians-turned-crime-fighting-mystermen like Mandrake the Magician and his imitators.
Zatara was woven into the DC Comics fold more completely when he was given the back story of having been a friend of Thomas Wayne, introducing him to his future wife Martha and then later training a young Bruce Wayne in the skill of escapology. It was in fact during the time right after the Waynes were murdered that Zatara left America on an extended tour of Europe. Here he met Sindella and soon Zatanna was born.
This was developed more as Zatanna's history was developed and most famously in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Zatanna".
Another of his good friends, or rather paramours was Madame Xanadu, who would not marry him. Currently Xanadu and Zatanna share a title in Justice League Dark. They are both Homo Magi, so even though X was Z's dad's former girlfriend, they do look about the same age. Zatara himself was also Homo Magi in addition to being a stage magician. A distinction he shares with other, now dead, father figures like Ludlow Swift of "Ghosts of Albion" and Harry Dresden's father.
Of course the most notable feature today of Zatara is that he is dead. His death is what help push his daughter into a life of fighting crime as her father had done. Though for a dead guy he pops up often enough in Zatanna's life.
I like the idea of Zatara. I'd love to try him out sometime in a supers or pulp like game.
I have already decided that my first Amazing Adventures character will be Giovanni Zatara.
But until then, here he is in all his Golden Age glory!
Strength 1, Stamina 2, Agility 1, Dexterity 3, Fighting 2, Intellect 3, Awareness 4, Presence 4Advantages
Artificer, Benefit, Wealth 3 (millionare), Connected, Contacts, Defensive Attack, Fascinate (Expertise), Languages 3, Skill Mastery: Expertise: Magic, Uncanny Dodge, Well-informed
Close Combat: Unarmed 2 (+4), Deception 6 (+10), Expertise: Magic 10 (+13), Expertise: Stage Magic 6 (+9), Insight 10 (+14), Intimidation 2 (+6), Investigation 5 (+8), Perception 10 (+14), Persuasion 4 (+8), Ranged Combat: Eldritch Blast 6 (+9), Ranged Combat: Mental Blast 4 (+7), Sleight of Hand 10 (+13), Stealth 2 (+3), Technology 1 (+4)
Magic: Magic 10 (DC 25)
!dleihS: Deflect 10
!ediH: Concealment 0
!elzzaD: Dazzle 10 (Alternate; Affects Sense: hearing, sight, Resisted by: Will, DC 20)
!tsalb hctirdlE: Blast 10 (Alternate; DC 25)
!tsalb latneM: Mental Blast 5 (Alternate; DC 20)
Magical Senses: Senses 5 (magical, Acute: Sight, Analytical: Sight, Detect: Sight, Hearing 2: ranged, Ranged: Sight)
!elzzaD: Dazzle 10, +3 (DC Will 20)
!tsalb hctirdlE: Blast 10, +9 (DC 25)
!tsalb latneM: Mental Blast 5 (DC Will 20)
Grab, +2 (DC Spec 11)
Magic: Magic 10, +3 (DC 25)
Throw, +3 (DC 16)
Unarmed, +4 (DC 16)
Motivation: Doing Good
Italian, English, Greek, Latin
Dodge 10, Parry 9, Fortitude 7, Toughness 2, Will 10
Abilities 40 + Powers 30 + Advantages 14 + Skills 39 (78 ranks) + Defenses 27 = 150
Happy Father's Day everyone!