Books come and go, and with the comic book market more fickle than it has ever been before, I figured it wasn’t long before “Madame Xanadu” disappeared from the regular monthly pile. After all, “Madame Xanadu” is a critically acclaimed series and one that I quite enjoy. Traditionally, those books just don’t seem bound for longevity.
This issue, like many before is a magnificent read. It balances Madame Xanadu’s past with the promise of a heroic age in the future, an age that will bring, “a new speedster, and a green guardian. A micronaut and a sea king. An archer and his siren. Even. . . a Martian.” Rather than dredge along as the final issue of this series, it floats about as though it were the inaugural issue. It’s far from being a light-hearted tale, but it also isn’t a total downer. Wagner’s story has run its course, for now, and this issue is simply the final chapter in this volume.
Part of the problem with Madame Xanadu is that the character – in many of her appearances outside of this title - is notoriously mysterious and dreadfully aloof. Wagner balances Xanadu’s aloofness with the bubbly enthusiasm of Charlotte Blackwood, who was introduced in the arc prior to this issue, and serves as a nice surrogate to enable Wagner to explain Xanadu’s world to the reader through Blackwood. It’s a friendly tactic that makes a thick story more approachable.
Helping make this issue enjoyable is the art by Amy Reeder. Reeder has recently added the covers of “Supergirl” to her roster due to her engaging, fun art, and here, Reeder’s art is as welcoming as ever. Reeder’s characters have large irises that lack pupils, giving the characters a significant manga-like appearance. The pupil-less eyes (save for extreme close-ups) of the characters in Reeder’s story appear more lively and buoyant as a result. Major’s colors are just as critical to the visual success of this story as the pencils from Reeder and the inks from Friend. The one thing that I haven’t mentioned in my appreciation of this title before is the fact that “Madame Xanadu” is printed on a matte-finish paper that is a welcome counterpoint to the madness-inducing slick-coated, glare-no-matter-which-way-you-angle-the-books stock used in the regular DC line.
“Madame Xanadu” dared to enter both the DC Universe and the Vertigo realm freely and unafraid, blurring lines all the way along in the name of great storytelling. Wagner and Reeder showed the way to make a dark, enigmatic figure bright, welcoming, and inviting. This is a comic I’ll miss each month, but one that I will not hesitate to reread.