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Monday, September 29, 2008

Brief Mentions: Explaining the Unknown

Madame Xanadu #4
Written By: Matt Wagner

Art By: Amy Reeder Hadley

There are many mysterious characters throughout the DCU. Some of these characters have very vague backgrounds and some do not have origin stories at all. One such character is Madame Xanadu. In June of 2008, Vertigo launched Madame Xanadu to create an origin story of one of DC’s most mysterious characters. Madame Xanadu first appeared in Doorway to Nightmare #1 in 1978, since then very little has been done with her. She was recently seen in Day of Vengeance, an Infinite Crisis tie-in, in which she was blinded by the Spectre. Her last appearance was seen in Countdown # 50 where she was unable to locate Captain Marvel, Jr. and warns Mary Marvel to stay away from Gotham City. This lack of origin and character development is what attracted Matt Wagner (Mage, Grendel) to this title. In a CBR interview Wagner states, “She’s a fairly blank slate of a character and that’s part of what attracted me to this project in the first place. In fact, based on my own private polling, all anyone seems to know about the character is that she had a spate of beautiful covers by Mike Kaluta back in the’70s and’80s and that she’s recently been blinded.” Wagner goes on to explain that this is an origin story for Madame Xanadu so that comic readers can see where this mysterious mystic comes from. To join Wagner in his cause is artist Amy Reeder Hadley (Fool’s Gold) whose unique art style truly adds to the series. Though this story contains action, for the most part it is a love story between two characters: Madame Xanadu and The Phantom Stranger. It is known in continuity that Madame Xanadu distrusts Phantom Stranger and Wagner is now developing exactly why that is. He also fleshes out the reason why her name is Madame Xanadu. In the third and fourth issue, Madame Xanadu is a “western seer” to Kublai Khiyad Khan and in a CBR interview, Wagner explains, “the second chapter of the story, not the second issue, takes place in the court of Kubla Khan. This is largely due to the fact that I had to find some way for her to bear the name of her eventual identity. ‘Xanadu’ was the name of Kubla Khan’s summer palace…” Wagner delves deep into history, literature, and comic continuity to provide comic readers with the very best story. This has been an absolutely great story, with great art and great colors (shout-out to my boy, Guy Major). This story is worth every cent and further strengthens the continuity of the DCU and gives an in-depth look at a very complex character.

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