By Andy Frisk
February 2, 2010 - 19:22
In “Broken House of Cards Chapter Four: Squabbles and Spells,” writer Matt Wagner relates a piecemeal history of the Homo magi (of which Madam Xanadu and her evil sister Morgana are descended), and the start of Morgana and Xanadu’s squabbles which have turned deadly, as we’ve recently seen.
The Homo magi, survivors of Atlantis, “the Mystical Helix of Arcane Energies” came to “the land” as we know it and are welcomed by Oberon and Titania, the king and queen of the fairy folk. As time slowly slips by, the fairy folk eventually fade from the land and the magi become its new tenants. Eventually, the chief magi family of Staegys and Atheron have three daughters named Nimue (later Xanadu), Morgana, and Vivienne. Each took a liking or magical calling to a different region of the Earth. Vivienne took to the waters, Nimue to the land, and Morgana to the air. As time progressed further, Homo sapiens (man) began to flourish and overtake the land. Mankind catch glimpses of the homo magi and think they are gods or demons or both. They are feared and revered, and as Arthurian mythology fans are aware, play roles in the tales. At first Morgana is repulsed and disgusted by “the walking apes,” but Nimue takes a liking to them. She admires their tenacity and determination. Morgana eventually sees a purpose in them though. They become as playthings to her with which to be interfered with, contrary to the will of her father, and Nimue’s protests…
Nimue and Morgana are just like most siblings at first. They squabble and fight, but very quickly Morgana begins to show her darker side. When pursuing a stag, which Morgana can’t keep up with, she becomes jealous of Nimue’s swiftness of magical teleportation. When Nimue triumphantly returns riding the stag, Morgana kills it out of jealousy and blames its death on Nimue. Morgana has no qualms over killing an innocent animal for spite and it’s easily discernable that her tastes for death and destruction will eventually progress from animals to men, thusly putting her at eventual odds with Nimue. Morgana is like the psychopath or nascent serial killer who progresses from killing animals to men. It appears psychopathic behavior is a possibility in magical folk as well as human folk. Obviously in the world of Madame Xanadu, a psychopathic homo magi can be incredibly more dangerous than a homo sapien psychotic.
Amy Reeder Hadley takes another break from the penciling duties this issue, but Joelle Jones fills in admirably. Her style isn’t completely different from Hadley’s. It is far more simple and much less detailed though. The characters look quite cartoonish but not silly, and this look works since it’s portraying a long ago and much simpler time. Jones does a great job of maintaining the defining look of Madame Xanadu’s characters, established under Hadley’s artistic reign. It doesn’t feel like a completely different book like it did under Wm Kaluta’s short stint.
It appears these interlude chapters to “Broken House of Cards” will stretch for at least two issues, so we’ll have to wait a little while for a resolution to last month’s cliffhanger, but with Jones handling the artistic chores while Hadley is again away, it won’t be such a terrible wait. Besides, some solid back story on Nimue and Morgana is necessary at this point in the series and the current story arc as it will enhance them both.
Rating: 8 /10