some bummer comics news

27 08 2008

I got kinda bummed out by two pieces of comics related news today.

It looks like HBO have decided not to make a Preacher series. Apparently it’s too violent, too¬†dark and too controversial. Makes you wonder if they bothered reading the original comics. They just had to look at the character list and see one Mr Arseface listed. Preacher was one of my must reads when it was originally published so I was quite excited that they were doing a series. It even featured in my Should Be Shows list.

And James Jean is leaving Fables. Noooooooooo… I’m a huge fan of James Jean, the header at the top of this page is from a piece of James Jean art and his art has set the visual tone of Fables. It won’t be the same without his brilliance. Anyway here are a few of my favourite James Jean covers.


Madame Xanadu

25 08 2008

Matt Wagner has always been one of my favourite writers. When I was first getting into comics his Grendel was one of the titles that really hooked me. Grendel War Child was the first one that I read and as a young man it blew my freaking mind. I tried to track down all the past issues (a near impossible task as the company that had published them had gone belly up) and voraciously read all the new issues. Grendel was a comic that wasn’t afraid to shake the whole world. It started out as the story of Hunter Rose, the debonair criminal mastermind who was both the greatest novelist alive, and Grendel, the world’s deadliest assassin. By Grendel War Child, set 100s of years in the future, the world was dominated by the Grendel’s. The Grendel was a warrior cult and the population lived by the Grendel code. It was a million miles from where the series had started and the utter antithesis of the mainstream crap of the time. I read Mage, Wagner’s reinterpretation of the Arthurian legend but it never really gripped me like Grendel did. I followed that up with Sandman Mystery Theatre and loved it. Wagner writes stunning stuff, he is a writer of dazzling ability and I eagerly followed almost everything he did.

(that Wagner is also a stunning artist shouldn’t be forgotten – in that regard he is like Mike Mignola, a brilliant artist who is only eclipsed by his writing)

So when I heard he was going to be the writer on the new Vertigo series Madame Xanadu I was more than a little excited. Wagner doing a Vertigo series again? Awesome. So two issues in does Madame Xanadu live up to my expectations?


I came to Madame Xanadu knowing that the heroine has a history in the DC Universe and is tied to the Phantom Stranger but not much more. And to be honest you don’t need to know more to enjoy Madame Xanadu. The story tells of Madame Xanadu’s beginnings and presumably as the series progresses her passage through time.

Wagner’s hand on the story is deft, with nice touches that undercut our expectations. For instance the moment we discover that Nimue (as Madame Xanadu is known at this point) is sleeping with Merlin comes as a slight shock, in my eyes at least I was seeing her as this innocent albeit fey creature.

But oddly Wagner isn’t the star here. That honour belongs to Amy Hadley and her stunning, manga-ish art. Her panels are filled with delightful touches. The detail on her depiction of Nimue’s celtic garb is awesome. Like Charles Vess, Hadley seems to have been born to draw faeries and the magical world.

So far it reminds me a touch of the Books of Magic, the much lamented (by me) series that spun off a Neil Gaiman mini series. The Phantom Stranger appeared in that series too, as the guide who showed Tim Hunter the DC Universe’s magic past. I loved the Books of Magic in its John Ney Rieber phase so I’m taking that as a positive sign for this (I’m reaching, I know).

While the series has had a good beginning I’m a bit worried about its legs. I know by issue 5 Madame Xanadu encounters Marie Antoinette so there is a danger they are going to churn through too much story. But that’s a minor worry and I don’t know why I am worrying about it. Wagner has proved himself in the past and undoubtedly he’ll continue to do so here.

Madame Xanadu has had a good beginning. Long may it continue!