Comic Name: Madame Xanadu
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo
Writer: Matt Wagner
Artist: Marley Zarcone/Laurenn McCubbin/Chrissie Zullo/Celia Calle/Marian Churchland/Amy Reeder
# of Issues: 6
Release Date: 2011
Reprints Madame Xanadu #24-29 (August 2010-January 2011). Madame Xanadu has existed for centuries…from her time in pre-history to modern day, Madame Xanadu has seen and experienced things that most have only dreamed about. As Madame Xanadu seeks to help those who have experienced hardship due to mystic attacks, she finds herself continuously brought into the strange and occult…and now Madame Xanadu might have found an assistant to help her.
Written by Matt Wagner, Madame Xanadu Volume 4: Extra-Sensory was released by DC Comics under their Vertigo imprint. Following Madame Xanadu Volume 3: Broken House of Cards, Madame Xanadu 4: Extra-Sensory is the final volume in the series.
Madame Xanadu is a fun ride. I like the character, and I like Matt Wagner’s writing. He takes the character and puts her in a place where she is almost an observer in the lives of the characters in the story she’s watching. It is very similar to old House of Mystery and House of Secret issues or even reminiscent of The Sandman. Unfortunately for Madame Xanadu, she didn’t have as long of a run.
This volume takes the story and looks at the different senses. Each story is based upon a sense and the series is finished with a wrap-up issue. The stories are interesting and generally self-contained (minus the overreaching theme), and it does feel like an ending for the series. It also wraps up a small storyline which began in Madame Xanadu 3: Broken House of Cards by revealing what happened to Betty Reynolds after her possession.
What really stands out in this volume of Madame Xanadu is the art. The book is loaded with fun art and with different artists on each issue, you get to see a ton of different styles that generally wouldn’t make it into a mainstream comic. In particular, I like Chrisie Zullo’s issue (Madame Xanadu #26) which deals with sense of smell.
Madame Xanadu was always a second tier book in DC’s Vertigo line which is generally treated as a second tier line…this always spells trouble for a series in that situation. Despite great writing and good art, it felt like Madame Xanadu just limped around with little help from DC in promoting it. The character was part of the DC/Vertigo mesh which ultimately led to the cancellation despite modest sales. It is sad to see this series go since it feels more like DC’s ’90s Vertigo series like The Sandman. With Madame Xanadu coming back in full force in the New 52, I’d love to see the character get another chance (or actually recon this series into the proper DC Universe through her recent appearances).