Tuesday, May 04, 2010


No, not the lame Olivia Newton John movie (or song.)

I'm talking about Madame Xanadu, a perennial DC background character who has finally returned to the 'mainstream' with her own series.  It's just over twenty issues in, and I have to say I've been liking it.  I gave the book a try early on because of a number of things.  Here's a quick list:

1.I was interested in trying a series written by award winning author Matt Wagner (Mage!, Grendel, Trinity & Sandman Mystery Theater)

2. Early cover art looked sensational.  I don't buy books based on art, but it doesn't hurt when somebody is really nailing it!

3. Vertigo.  I love when DC characters get moved over to Vertigo, because I feel like its a sign that the title is going to explore more intense and unchecked creative paths. (Hellblazer, Swamp Thing, Sandman, etc)

4. Madame Xanadu.  I was mildly interested in the character herself and what role she might play in a bigger story.

The first story arc really hooked me, and opened my eyes to what Matt was going to be doing with her. Deep histories that are going to be slowly unfolded across the series and across time are always a way to drag out my interest.

From Wikipedia:  "Madame Xanadu's origins are explored in an ongoing Vertigo series. According to this series, her full name was once Nimue Inwudu and she is a sister of Morgana le Fey and Vivienne, the Lady of the Lake. The sisters are descendants of the Elder Folk, survivors of Atlantis who evolved into the race known as the Homo Magi. Madame Xanadu is the same Nimue who casts an imprisoning spell on her former lover Merlin, blaming him with manipulating Camelot and the course of history for his own gain. Merlin has the last laugh, though, as he succeeds in stripping her magic away from her, forcing her to use potions to maintain her immortality."

This information was revealed to me in the early issues and cemented that I was going to hang around for a while and see what Wagner did with the character.  After all, who doesn't love Arthurian threads, mixed with Atlantean culture as a basis for following an immortal's life down through the ages?  Even more tempting is the idea that as stories unfold in different eras, we'll get some glimpses into DC's own development in that time.

One of the feature moments in early stories for me was the appearance by The Phantom Stranger, who I find to be an enigmatic and compelling mystery. The character is very clearly tied to her, and yet we are left wondering why he is involving himself in her life as we watch it unfold.  Terrific stuff.

I don't know why I felt compelled to comment on this series now, given that I've been following it for the better part of two years now, but I read a couple of the recent issues and really enjoyed them.  This isn't your average comic story (as with so many things I comment on) but it is a terrific blend of the fantasy genre with historic fiction.

If you have an interest in different types of stories, this one might be worth a look.  Gorgeous artwork doesn't hurt either.

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