With all the extra time on my hands due to the current lockdown and quarantine that the entire planet is experiencing right now, I have finally managed to almost completely exhaust my monumentally vast backlog of comics and graphic novels (my video-game backlog though, continues to grow exponentially!) So with my stupendous supply slashed, I decided to revisit some of my absolute favourite comic collections from the past, beginning with the mysterious, mystifying and marvellous, Madame Xanadu…
Madame Xanadu was created by David Michelinie, Val Mayerik and Michael Kaluta in February 1978, making her first appearance in Doorway to Nightmare #1. Xanadu was the mainstay of the series of mystery comics, with the ongoing monthly horror anthology eventually paving the way for the beginning of DC’s Vertigo line of comic books. Vertigo was an imprint of DC Comics, originally created to publish stories that didn’t meet the strict guidelines set down by the Comics Code Authority, Vertigo enabled DC to have more graphic and explicit content in the stories than was possible in their main superhero line of comic books.
Disenchanted is the trade paperback collection of issues 1-10 of Madame Xanadu’s comic series, originally released in 2009. Written by Grendel creator Matt Wagner, and drawn by Amy Reeder Hadley and Richard Friend.
Madame Xanadu is one of world’s most mysterious and enigmatic magicians, for centuries she has aided both the powerful and powerless alike when threatened by supernatural forces. The esoteric character originally learnt her craft through Merlin the legendary wizard from King Arthur’s court. Wagner and Hadley’s spellbinding tale takes us on a captivating journey through the annals of time alongside Xanadu as she meets and aids illustrious figures from the past, from reading the fortune of Marie Antoinette, through serving in court as a precognitive for Ghengis Kahn, and even cheating Death herself in a game of cards.
Wagner’s tale makes for compelling reading as we follow Nimue through key points in human history. For all her burgeoning power though, Nimue is an emotional and empathetic character, who is fundamentally just trying to find her place in the world. Wagner brings much pathos and poignancy to Nimue, so much so that you cannot help but form a real emotional attachment to the character, which in no small part is also down to the magnificent visuals provided by the very talented Amy Reeder Hadley. Hadley is an extremely versatile artist and this shines through in a story that takes place throughout history, meaning that Hadley had to draw everything from medieval castles, through grimy 1800’s London and beyond into the early 20th century, Hadley’s consummate artistic talent accomplishes this fantastical feat with ease.
Madame Xanadu: Disenchanted comes highly recommended to all comic-book fans but most especially anyone with a love of the supernatural and esoteric. Introducing us to a somewhat lesser known DC character, who is an enigmatic and powerful mystic, yet at times an exceptionally vulnerable and tragic character, masterfully realised by the titanic team up of marvellous Matt Wagner and the astonishing Amy Reeder Hadley.
“If there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, who you gonna call…” certainly not the Ghostbusters, they wouldn’t stand a literal hope in hell against the aberrant abominations and mystical miscreants that haunt the dark side of DC Comics, no, this is unreservedly a job for that phenomenally preternatural group of magical Superheroes known as Justice League Dark.
Justice League Dark was first introduced in 2011, though the characters contained within this uncanny cabal have been around for decades. The original line up as introduced to us by series creator, the inimitable Pete Milligan consisted of – Zatanna, John Constantine, Madame Xanadu, Black Orchid and Shade the Changing Man. The JLD initially formed after ancient witch Enchantress (recently seen haunting the silver screen as a protagonist in the astounding Suicide Squad movie) defeated DC’s premier team of costume clad Superheroes The Justice League. Their defeat by the supernatural powerhouse, necessitated the creation of a mystical team of heroes to deal with the emergence of paranormal Supervillains.
DC have long touted the occult team with a big screen appearance, with legendary director Guillermo Del Toro attached as director (Del Toro is a huge fan of the original comics) but his excessively busy work schedule has meant that the long waited mystical movie has languished in limbo. Until now… DC‘s parent company, Warner Bros have announced that Bourne Identity and Edge of Tomorrow director Doug Liman has taken up the ghostly reins and will be directing the Dark Universe alongside Del Toro who will act as producer for the eerie epic.
With this announced alongside the upcoming animated version of Justice League Dark, it seems our favourite group of esoteric heroes will finally step out of the darkness and into the light, of the silver screen.