Teased by the raves I've seen online in message boards, I thought about giving "Madame Xanadu" a try. The interview with Amy Reeder Hadley on our site offered a little more incentive, as Hadley seemed really passionate about her work on this title.
Madame Xanadu and I go back quite a ways, all the way to the late 1980s, in the Doug Moench-scripted "The Spectre" series. Certainly, she's never been a banner character, on the newsstand or in the eyes of the readership. Comfortable on the fringe of the DC Universe, Madame Xanadu contracted a case of Vertigo and slipped into the mature readers' side of things.
Matt Wagner provides the guidance for Xanadu's actions and words, and he does so quite well. No stranger to characters on the fringe, wielders of magic, or just interesting human beings, Wagner provides an interesting glimpse into the life and times of Xanadu. This issue pops into Xanadu's trials in revolutionary France. This issue also happens to feature one of the most popular characters ever created under the Vertigo banner: Death.
Wagner and Hadley render the interaction between Xanadu and Death to a complex kinship. Both characters seem comfortably uncomfortable in the situation they coexist in.
Fletcher performs wonderfully on the lettering of this tale, providing Xanadu with an elite voice, polished and refined. Moreover, in the selection of word balloon shape, Fletcher communicates the haughtiness and aloof disposition of the Phantom Stranger.
The greater measure of Xanadu's journey starts in this issue, and as a first time reader with a breadth of knowledge in the DCU, I can say "Madame Xanadu" #6 provides a great leaping on point. Nods to the impending rise of Napoleon Bonaparte and allusions of the helmet of Fate sew this title into the very fabric of the DC Universe while providing historical relevance.
Not only does the tale contained within this issue provide the reader with a brief, historically inspired escape from the modern-day daily grind, but it has also inspired me to seek out the first five issues of this series.