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Madame Xanadu #29

Written by SilverPheonix on Tuesday, November 30 2010 and posted in Reviews

How do you remember the dearly departed? Do you celebrate the life it lived, or do you lament on the forces that bought your friend to its end? Healthy grief requires you to do both, but when all is said and done, always keep the memories close to your heart.

Comic Review Cover

Credits & Solicit Info:

Madame Xanadu #29


Eisner Award-nominated artist Amy Reeder returns for the amazing series finale! Set in the New York City of 1966, Madame Xanadu and her new protégé, Charlotte Blackwood, ponder what the future may hold. According to The Phantom Stranger, they stand on the edge of a new age – and the coming of a familiar team of heroes...

$2.99 US
Mature Readers


How do you remember the dearly departed? Do you celebrate the life it lived, or do you lament on the forces that bought your friend to its end? Healthy grief requires you to do both, but when all is said and done, always keep the memories close to your heart.

No matter your connection to the Comic Book Industry - dealing with the Comic Book Industry as whole, there are very few things that are a guaranteed part of the Business. However, there is one thing that is an almost certain guaranteed for any book that is published, and that thing is Cancellation. It only takes the shallowest of studies into the history of the Graphic Novel Medium as whole to realize that even the most optimistic estimate puts the cancellation rate at 99.5%. Of course, this is by no means saying that all cancelations are the same, as not every book gets canceled because of absolute unprofitability. The reasons for cancelation can range from "re-launches", to "The Story Naturally Ending", and everything else in-between. At end of the day however, they all share the same commonality in Cancellation, something that always makes one group of fans sad. The cancellation of Madame Xanadu, in particular is no exception.

As for series itself, Madame Xanadu was the latest (and probably last) DCU character that was taken under the wings of Vertigo to undergo a re-imagining for the modern age of sorts. The beginning of the story traces Madame Xanadu's past back to the end of the Golden Age that was King Arthur's Camelot, where she ends up making a choice that would help to shape the course of the rest of her life as we see it. From there, the next 2 and a half years we would see her Love, Lose, Learn, Grow, Smile, Mourn, Laugh, Cry, Move On and become a character to care about. A character that I am proud to say I was (and still am) completely invested in, due to her trials and tribulations, which have made me say for several months, that she starred in the best book that featured ANY DCU character. It is a big reason why I feel this book's cancellation was devastating, especially what may have been the real circumstances behind said cancellation, which I will get into later, because I don't feel they should completely mar something that was a total celebration of the journey that Madame Xanadu #29, a book that you have to struggle to find anything wrong with the book itself.

As far as the writing goes, let me start off by saying that Matt Wagner is one of the most underrated writers in the Industry today. For the past 2 and half years, he has taken a character that was little more than shallow Witch who somewhat abused her powers, and added so many layers of characterization to her that it might as well had been a new character. With Issue 29 being the end point for this story, the writer uses his pages to not only continue the change in Status Quo that was established at the end of last issue when Xanadu took an appetence, but to reflect on where she has been in her life. We're given a very good look into how the main character has changed from her days in the enchanted forest, and not by the way of exposition either. From the beginning to the near end of this book, each reaction that Xanadu has to her world references to a past story, where something happened due to her arrogance, pride, or ever natural inability to change things. The way she reacts to each event shows that she learned patience, humility, and understanding of her purpose and abilities, and the limitations that the latter comes with. Along with those gifts we're given two other gifts of seeing what happened to one of the people Xanadu's life has touched, and a reference to what might happen to two of the people who pushed her Apprentice into choosing that life. No stone is left unturned as Mr. Wagner gives an issue that truly does make a full circle.

When I first opened up Madame Xanadu #1 in July 2008, the thing that stood out more than the writing was the art itself. From first page to last, we were treated to an exhibition of how amazing Comic Book Art could be, and how said art could add to the stories, there was never any question as to how the characters, scenes and settings for this book should've been drawn, because they were as close to perfect as possible from Day 1. In fact they were so good, that the book experience its own "Fables Syndrome" in the fact that other talented artists were put to such a high standard, that their own styles could never compete. Issue 29 shows us once again why Amy Reeder and Richard Friend's art became the iconic style for this book, as they give us quite a show. From the cover to the final page, everyone and everything has its own unique style and personality. For example, Madame Xanadu is drawn as a beautiful and mysterious woman who had seen Ages rise and fall as she carries the wisdom of the ages on her shoulders. Her new apprentice is drawn as a young woman, who has yet to ripen to her beauty or the abilities that she will possess, but has the promise to become something amazing in both her powers and looks wise. From those two characters, to most insignificant bird in Washington Square Park, to the Water that flows from the great Waterfall. The art in this book is just a sight to behold.

Like I said in the 2nd Paragraph of this review, it's extremely hard to find anything negative to say about this book (especially to those who have followed it from day 1), however that doesn't mean that the book could not be surrounded by negativity. As stated earlier, this is the last issue of Madame Xanadu Vertigo series, with the official reason being due to sales, which is justified due to the October's Edition struggling to sell 7,200 Copies. However, when one does some research it is clear that Madame Xanadu is not the worst selling monthly serial that Vertigo has (or that DC has for that matter) outselling some of its more high profile brethren. Further research also shows that the Trades have had some success as the two released debuted at #15 and #11, respectively. When you take that information and it with the Creative Mandate that all DCU properties were to be returned to the DCU, it's natural to see how the rumor Madame Xanadu's cancellation being tied into that mandate got started. Of course, we may never know the truth behind the cancellation, but if it was cancelled for the Creatively Mandated reason, then it'll go down a great miscarriage of justice that could've been avoided by slapping a "DC" logo on the book, and having it continue to its intended conclusion before the mandate.

Despite the possible terrible news, it's hard to focus on that when you have this book in your hands and you're taking in the sheer majesty of the whole entire package. Even blind buyers will find something to like as this can easily be a One-Shot exploring a point in the character's history that ties into DC's 75th Anniversary. It's a testament to the creative team that the book can be enjoyed on so many levels, and could be a perfect way to introduce those who have yet to take the journey with this wonderful character. With such a reward for those who've taken the journey, and a great incentive for those who might to begin to travel this road, it proves that Madame Xanadu "died" as she lived, and that was being simply magical.

The Verdict
Story *****: Nothing is left on the cupboard as, the Matt Wagner shows us a character who has come full circle, and become a fully realized mulit-layered character with many reasons to care about here. A fitting tribute to the past and present parts of Madame Xanadu's life.

Art *****: The Art team shows us why their work took the world by storm with another blockbuster performance. Everything that is drawn on the page has such a life to it

Accessibility *****: For being a final curtain call to a 2 1/2 year long story, this Issue has something not just for the long time reader, but for the curious person, who can get a full understanding into who the main character is, and where she wants to go. It would not surprise me, that a new reader would begin tracking the series down through traders after reading it.

Final Verdict: *****

Madame Xanadu #29

Review by: SilverPheonix

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