The Fawcett City Auditorium - On a stormy night in 1921
The stage was dark. The footlights were bright. A lone figure stood on stage, in black coat tails and a top hat, arms extended to the sides. He wore white gloves. His hair was black and oiled, his mustache black and thin. The crowd sat in awed silence. His eyes were dark and filled with mystery, but able to pierce in the inner workings of the soul whomever he gazed upon. His stage presence was even more powerful and hypnotic then anyone in the audience had heard.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he said in his calm, cultured voice, that carried a vague and mysterious accent that was impossible to place. "I am Giovanni Zatara."
The audience erupted in an enthusiastic applause. They stood and cheered, hooted and hollered. Zatara had yet to perform a single trick or illusion. When the standing ovation died down, the people returned to their seats and waited eagerly to see the greatest stage magician in the world, perform his craft.
The first trick he always performed first, without fail, was he took off his hat and pulled a rabbit out of it. It was his five year old daughter's favorite trick, and she always watched from the side of the stage. She always smiled and clapped when she saw it and so did the audience.
"Ladies and gentlemen," Zatara announced, "my daughter, Zatanna."
That was her cue. Zatanna walked out on stage in an outfit that was exactly like her father's. She carried his black, magic wand with the white tip out to him. The audience applauded her, their hearts melting at the sight. Zatanna handed her father his magic wand and he handed her the rabbit. Zatanna waved at the audience and exited the stage. Now that he had his wand, Zatara put on his hat and gave the audience a bow.
"And now," he said with an almost devilish smile, "let us explore the mysteries of our world together."
After the show, his stage assistant had taken Zatanna back to the hotel to be put to bed. Zatara liked to stay around a little longer, to sign autographs and chat with members of the audience. While he was backstage, taking off his tailcoat and black tie, someone knocked on his dressing room door. He answered it, finding a handsome young man with blond hair standing at the door, holding a bundle in his arms.
"Mr. Zatara," the man said, "my name is Alan Scott."
"Are you here for an autograph, Mr. Scott?"
"No sir, I am not," Alan Scott answered. "I'm here to ask your help."
"Come in." Zatara stepped aside and invited Alan Scott into his dressing room. Scott walked in and looked around, while Zatara closed the dressing room door and walked over to his makeup desk. He slid his hands into his pockets and leaned against the makeup desk. "Are you here to learn a trick to impress a girl?"
Scott blinked and shook his head. "No. I was in the train wreck that happened two weeks ago."
"I'm sorry, that must have been very traumatic."
"It was," Scott said. "I found something out in the swamp, something that can't be explained."
Zatara shifted nervously before clearing his throat. "Then take my advice and leave it in the swamp. Good evening, Mr. Scott." Zatara turned his back on Alan Scott and pretended to busy himself at the makeup desk.
"These past two weeks I've been experiencing things," Scott continued. "I've been getting these feelings, these sensations that I can only describe as other worldly. At first I thought it was shell shock, but it isn't. It's something else. I've seen a man with white hair, wearing a blue hat and blue cloak. He spoke to me, he said that the stranger comes, when the stranger is needed."
His eyes wide, Zatara whipped around and faced Alan Scott. His hand pointed towards him, a look of complete disbelief on his face. "You've seen The Phantom Stranger?" Thoughts raced through Zatara's mind. His eyes darted back and forth as his mind worked every possible scenario that it could. "What exactly did you find out in the swamp, Mr. Scott?"
"This," Scott said. He set the bundle on the makeup desk and started unwrapping it. "I've been all over Fawcett City, making inquiries at libraries, corresponding with historians and getting nowhere. Finally I came across a rare book store here in the city and someone there recommended that I talk to you." Scott finished unwrapping the bundle and revealed the green lantern, with its emerald glow shining bright.
When he saw it, tears formed in Zatara's eyes. He slowly sat down and covered his mouth with his hand. Never in all of the years that he traveled the world, learning the secrets of the magical earth had he ever considered that he would see this for himself, with his own eyes.
"Do you now what it is?" Scott asked.
"Yes," Zatara answered quietly. "It's the Green Lantern, an ancient artifact from Kahndaq that was used to defeat Teth-Adam. Black Adam as he became known in history. Inside the Green Lantern, is a tiny fragment of the Rock of Eternity. The source of all magic on Earth."
"Magic? Mr. Zatara, magic is not real."
"It is quite real, Mr. Scott," Zatara argued. "It is very powerful and very dangerous. The question is, however, what on Earth is it doing in a swamp outside of Fawcett City?" Zatara leaned forward and stared at the Green Lantern intently, deep in thought. His eyes went wide and he shot to his feet. "Of course!" he roared. He grabbed his magic wand, coattail and hat and darted for the door.
Confused, Alan Scott grabbed the lantern and followed. The two of them were out of the building and into an alley before Scott could get his next question out. "Of course, what? Where are you going?"
"To mystery and adventure, Mr. Scott," Zatara said with a gleeful laugh. He stopped and turned sharply and stared directly into Alan Scott's eyes. "Dare you follow? Dare you take the Shadowpact?"
"Good," Zatara said with a devilish grin before throwing on his tailcoat and hat. "I'll need a man of spirit to aid me."
Alan Scott stammered, unable to speak anything intelligibly. He clutched the Green Lantern to his chest completely confused. A Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost pulled up on the street at the end of the alley. Laughing, Zatara raced towards it with Alan Scott following behind. "Ah! My driver, Tong!"
"Where are we going?" Scott managed to ask.
Upon reaching the Silver Ghost, Zatara spun around, that devilish grin stretched across his face. "The locals have been terrorized as late by something in the swamps. A creature, a monster, an unspeakable horror. Tonight, Mr. Scott, you and I hunt The Swamp Thing!"