As with so many other things that are artistically awesome, they come to an end long before they should. Over at Bleeding Cool, rumor has it that Madame Xanadu will soon meet her demise at Vertigo. Whether because of corporate rearranging of characters, low sales, or the creators having other projects they deem priority, this falls under the category of tragic.
I only recently discovered Madame Xanadu. The first trade, “Disenchanted,” was exceptional. When I finished reading it, I immediately re-read it. Amy Reeder’s art is out of this world. She draws Madame Xanadu so beautifully, with ethereal hints of Manga that make her work bright and unique. Matt Wagner’s story is nothing short of brilliant. He depicts a character who is so powerful and ageless, yet internally flawed by deep emotional wounds a thousand years old. Wagner ingeniously weaves in characters like Merlin, The Phantom Stranger, and Morgan Le Fey, which entices the continuity hound in me. The second trade was also very good, albeit quite different. An alternate artist, Michael William Kaluta, added a rugged vibe to the arc. It worked for the time-period of the story. Think Spanish Inquisition and Jack the Ripper. The writing continued to be fanfuckingtastic as we see a more mature Xanadu, settling into who she’s decided to be. So good in fact, I started buying the issues. The most recent arc, beginning at #26 (check my review over at Newsarama), is very promising.
I could sycophantically profess 100 other things I love about this book, but I’ll stop here, as it’s not going to change anything. I’ve learned to accept that when I really, really love a book, it will inevitably get canned. I’m not so completely narcissistic to believe that I’m one of the few who recognize true excellence. But how does a book like Brightest Day (aka the UBER-MEH) continue on while Xanadu must cease? Sales, I’m sure. To that, I say: Advertise the damn book! I’m so over this “It’s not selling” cop-out. If Xanadu got nearly as much ad space as Brightest Day, I bet it would sell. Pardon me, Mr. Wagner, if I’m being presumptuous and assuming it wasn’t your decision. You are a gifted writer; perhaps you decided to move on. I know Ms. Reeder is taking on Batwoman (aka the MEGA-WIN), and covers for Supergirl, which I’m sure will be splendid. But why do the books I love have to go?
Birds of Prey is back, and that’s great. DC previously discontinued that book and let the characters get turned into feminine frailty. Gail Simone is very quickly rectifying that, but it took four years for DC to figure out what a gem they had with Simone and BoP. Amid the hoopla surrounding Wonder Woman, DC claimed her books weren’t selling either, thus justifying the redesign/reboot. Again, perhaps the books would sell if she got even half the ad space as Batman. Issue #600 sold like hotcakes because it was advertised out the wazoo, combined with the gimmick of changing her appearance. Surely, there aren’t that many JMS fans. Sorry.
Vertigo books consistently have solid writing and good art. I’d say that about a third of the books at DC prime are working with that combo. I acknowledge the factor of sheer numbers. Fine. But this cash cow momentum is a ruthless executioner. Madame Xanadu is being unjustifiably sent to the guillotine.