It’s another Justice League Action recap, and another magic-themed episode! It has some old-school horror influences, and a great look at Zatanna’s true power, but “Hat Trick” is a pretty story-light episode.
Most of the episode revolves around the battle with Ghast, who in this show is a terrifying flea-like monster from another dimension.
He’s very Lovecraftian. Not the usual depiction, but nice.
We open as Batman, Zatanna, and Jason Blood (Etrigan) battle an army of department store mannequins. Some sort of magic keeps animating them into ravenous creatures that scuttle all over the place and try to eat people.
Also very Lovecraftian.
All three heroes get a chance to shine here. Zatanna shows off a wide range of powerful spells throughout this episode, Etrigan busts the rhymes and fire-breathing with equal vigor, and Batman is… Batman.
Suddenly, Felix Faust materializes and steals Zatanna’s hat. As Etrigan says in his own way, that’s what this whole battle was about.
“It appears this entire attack was begat, in order to acquire your magic hat!”
This is a major problem, since Zatanna’s hat is, in fact, a “mystic portal… a gateway to other dimensions.”
Cut to Felix Faust in his lair as he experiments with the hat. He’s having bunny problems. As in, rabbits keep pulling themselves out of the hat.
One of them has a tracking device in its ear, which clues the Justice League in to his location. Scotland.
Etrigan bugs his big brother Merlin for the second time in as many episodes, demanding the old wizard transport them to Scotland.
Meanwhile, Faust finally succeeds in summoning the Demon Ghast, just as the League arrives to stop him.
As mentioned, Ghast is pretty, well, ghastly in this show. He’s a giant flea with laser breath. He’s a flea of his word, though, and he does restore Faust’s youth as a reward.
The remainder of the episode is split into fights.
Batman and Etrigan chase after Ghast and try to stop him from destroying the world. Mostly unsuccessfully, as Zatanna has to bail them out at the end.
Along the way, they pull out all the stops. Batman and Etrigan straight up set Ghast on fire and explode him from the inside out.
It’s all to no avail. The pair do plenty of damage, but Ghast just keeps on floating towards the city. And vaporizing whales. He vaporizes some whales.
The other piece of action is Zatanna’s struggle to reclaim her hat. She’s hobbled without it, but still incredibly powerful.
Felix Faust, at least in this episode, is a sarcastic wisecracker. It’s likely a side effect of his regained youth, but Zatanna has none of it.
She’s big in the comics, but the DCAU Zatanna is largely treated as a second-stringer. Here, we get to see her full magical prowess. She can do all kinds of things with her magic, from throwing magical blades, to teleporting herself, to sealing away a horrifying extradimensional being.
Ultimately, Batman and Etrigan’s struggles are a delaying action until Zatanna finally takes care of Faust. Once she has her hat, she deals with Ghast in short order, and the episode is done.
Not a lot of story in this episode, but some great imagery and character development. Nobody’s going to underestimate Zatanna after this one.
DC Comics History & References in “Hat Trick”
- ”Sick ‘em, Audrey!” – Zatanna’s killer plant is a clear reference to the classic musical Little Shop of Horrors, which featured a man-eating plant named… Audrey.
- Magic in this episode is less fun and more terrifying than usual. The mannequins look like something out of a horror movie, and Zatanna’s spells are more brutal and violent than her normal style.
- Batman asks the dumbest bat-question ever: “What would Felix Faust want with another dimension?” Seriously? He’s an evil sorcerer.
- Bunny Positional System.
- Ghast isn’t usually a terrifying giant flea with laser breath. Usually, he’s just a dude. Ghast is one of the Demons Three, and his two brothers appeared in the very first episode of Justice League Action. This Cthulhoid menace is a major departure, but very cool.
Voice actor Jon Cryer. You know, Ducky from Pretty in Pink? Two and a Half Men? Jon doesn’t do much voice acting, but he has appeared in Danny Phantom as Freakshow and American Dad as Quacky (a riff on Ducky).
Info & Trivia
- Felix Faust is one of the Justice League’s primary magical adversaries.
- The character first appeared in the early 60s, when he used the Necronomicon to summon the Demons Three.
- He’s not usually so sarcastic, but his obsession with youth and immortality is right in character.
- “Has my madness unleashed doom upon this world? Totally worth it!”
- “Oh, how cute! Talking backwards! Look, I got a trick too, I can levitate! Look, levitating!” (performs a Balducci Levitation, pushing up on one foot)
- “What have we learned? My kung fu is better than your kung fu!”
- “Why did it have to be rabbits?”