Comics / Comic Reviews / DC Comics

Madame Xanadu #10

By Andy Frisk
May 15, 2009 - 00:08

Madame Xanadu, having finally captured The Phantom Stranger, or so she thinks, confronts him only to find herself transported by The Stranger to a mystic realm where they might converse as “equals.”  Again, failing to see the logic behind The Stranger’s motivations, their conversation degrades into a fight with Xanadu not joining his group of mystics and magic-users “in service to a new age of heroes that will soon come to fruition.”  The Stranger departs from her presence for what he hopes will be the last time for her peace of mind.  Shortly thereafter, doing nothing to affect The Stranger’s schemes in the matter, Xanadu witnesses the birth of The Spectre.  Having felt it was her fault that The Spirit of Vengeance is unleashed upon the world, and to atone for her past “misdeeds”, she decides to open shop and “offer…assistance to any who have need and all who ask” of her and her abilities.  Thus ends the first major arc of Madame Xanadu with a hope for a brighter future and more adventures.

Xanadu in the early days.


Unfortunately, this issue also marks the end of Amy Reeder Hadley’s run as the series’ penciller.  Xanadu’s look, the atmosphere, and wonderfully detailed and historically accurate surroundings penciled by Hadley, has been the hallmark of much of this series’ heretofore greatness.  Most definitely, Matt Wagner’s writing has been stellar, portraying Xanadu in several different time periods over the course of her long life with great personality and conviction, but it has been Hadley’s pencils that have brought Xanadu to life. 

More early Xanadu.


Hadley’s depiction of Xanadu has been one of incredible beauty without resorting to the over exaggerated female physique that is so often common in comics today.  Xanadu, rendered by Hadley, is no Power Girl but is just as attractive, if not more so, due to the reality of her physique.  Granted, she is shapely and very thin, perhaps unrealistically so to a point, but she is much more common in look that the aforementioned Power Girl or Wonder Woman.  Her attractiveness goes beyond just her looks though, as Hadley has done a great job dressing her in incredibly detailed historical outfits that suit very well the storylines and time periods in which her monthly adventures were based.  Hadley will be sorely missed as this version of Xanadu has been uniquely her own, and without peer artistically.

At the court of the Great Khan.


The first ten issues of Madame Xanadu will remain a testament to Hadley’s unique and original take on her.  It seems going forward that there may not be much historical progression as we’ve reached a point in Xanadu’s tale where she appears to have settled down, resolving or at least confronting with finality her conflict with The Stranger, and opening shop to help anyone she can with her abilities who asks it of her.  Perhaps Wagner is going to start putting her through adventures tied to the time period she is now in, the late 1930’s and ‘40’s, and progress time forward more slowly.  Only time will tell.

One of Hadley's best covers.


Overall, Madame Xanadu should remain a strong read every month as Wagner will no doubt continue to spin tales about Xanadu worth reading, but adjusting to Michael WM. Kaluta’s style will take some getting used to after Hadley’s version of Xanadu has solidified and created an unparalleled look for the character and her surroundings.  Again, she’ll be missed on this multiple Eisner Award nominated title.


Hadley's final cover as coda to her first.


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Rating: 10 /10

Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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