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[personal profile] espanolbot posting in [community profile] scans_daily
Today I thought that I'd start a brief look at Matt Wagner's series based on the then relatively obscure character, the titular Madame Xanadu.

The first issue begins in Dark Age England, a time when King Arthur is on the throne, druids still wander the fringes of the kingdom and several members of the Ancient Folk (people with innate magical talent descended from Atlantean refugees that settled in the British Isles) still haunt the woods and lakes, being seen as nature spirits by the muggles.

One such person is Nimue Inwudu, a seemingly young woman who lives in the woods with a nack for potions and magic. She is approached by a group of druids, who she is on friendly terms with. They ask that Nimue start taking an active role in protecting the land, as the King's grip is loosening as "brutish forces" affiliated with her sister are attacking villages and towns, threatening to turn their current golden age to chaos.

Fearing that the growing war might be the great disaster the signs she's seen have warned her about, Nimue promises to go talk to her sister, but as the other druids leave, one mysterious looking man stays to give a little speech.

Naturally this freaks out Nimue somewhat, so she goes to see her sister, who lives in a castle surrounded by goblins in comparision to Nimue's little hut in the woods. Nimue's sister is spiteful, greedy and casually sadistic, Nimue's sister is Morgana le Fey.

Considering Morgana decided to open the conversation by mocking Nimues devotion to helping woodland creatures, Nimue strikes an admittedly low blow by say that although she admits it can't be easy having the king's bastard, but that is no reason to start an armed revolt to take over the kingdom.

Morgana, however, says that Mordred ISN'T a bastard, and that he's going to take his rightful position as heir to the throne whether Nimue likes it or not. She then points out that Nimue has no right to infere things about her one-time relationship with Arthur, considering Nimue is in a sexual relationship with Merlin (which began when he was young and continues still now he's very old).

Annoyed that there seems to be no convincing her sister to stop her son from overthrowing the kingdom, Nimue goes to see her lover to see if he can somehow warn the king about what's going on. Merlin seems more distacted about his current project, a seemingly powerful demonic force he'd imprisoned in a room in his castle, and procuring some of Nimue's anti-aging potions for himself.

The fall of the reign of Camelot has begun.

Nimue heads to Camelot, which already is in ruins with Arthur having gathered his forces down the river Cam for a last stand against Mordred's forces. Stepping over the corpses of slain knights and peasants, she finds her sister gleefully revelling in the violence and destruction. Nimue asks Morgana if this land of death and ruin is really the kingdom she wants for her son, but Morgana doesn't care: Her son's gonna be king!

Morgana gloats about how Merlin even tried summoning a demon to aid in Camelot's defence, but that was ultimately as doomed as everything else. Nimue denounces her sister for her part in this, and just then Nimue's druid friend sees her talking to "the witch" and then denounces HER for being in league with the "ravagers".

Teleporting back to her woodland home, Nimue is horrified to see the demon, Etrigan, wandering her woods. A bizarre incantation causes Etrigan to turn into a confused and naked Jason Blood, who staggers off as the Stranger appears once more. PS points out that things like Etrigan were never intended to walk this plane, and he was brought here by Merlin.

He points out, despite her protestations, that she knows that her lover is responsible for this, and how Etrigan's existance on Earth can only ever leads to further tragedy in the future. PS then says that Merlin intends to live forever and control the destinies of mankind for millennia to come, and that he'll ultimate seek her out to try and get from her the life-prolonging potions he needs to survive. The Stranger says that to prevent Merlin from bringing more THINGS like Etrigan into the world, she needs to stop him.

Nimue shouts that she won't murder Merlin, and the Stranger agrees that he doesn't want that either, due to having seen enough death in his lifetime than anyone would ever want to see. He says that he only wants, at this point, to staunch any further miseries.

It's at this point that Nimue works out that the Stranger isn't actually a human being, and nor is he a demon, Ancient One or faerie either. Feeling sorry for how lonely the Stranger appears (in addition to his warnings of what Merlin might get up to in the future), Nimue reluctantly agrees to use her knowledge of the land to stop Merlin.

Shortly after this, she finds the wizard going through her things and stuffing random things into a sack. She askes him what he's doing going through her stuff, and he says that now Camelot has fallen they needs to flee the country, and asks that she pack lots of her anti-aging potions for the journey. Realising that the Stranger was right in his assessment that Merlin was only using her to get her potions, she sets in motion a plan to remove Merlin from the board, as it were.

Using her magic she makes him walk into the deepest part of the forest, to a part where even she rarely goes, and tries to make him fall asleep, wrapped in many magic-reducing plants to contain his powers. Merlin comes too just briefly enough to enact one brief spell against his ex-girlfriend...

It turns out that Merlin cursed Nimue in such a way that stripped her of all of her magical powers, including her ability to teleport and her immortality. Stuck in a forest that now seems alien and cold to her, she begs the Stranger to come back as she's done what he asked and paid a terrible price, and all she wants now is his help!

Fortunately for her, she will see the Stranger again. Unfortunately, it will be a continent away and in four hundred years time...

Date: 2012-10-16 02:27 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] jmacq1
I recall hearing mostly good things about this series. I did find the premise interesting on the identity they gave Madame Xanadu (who to my knowledge was pretty much a cipher prior to this).

Dunno what the current status of the series is in regards to canon in the New 52 but I'd imagine nothing here conflicts too heavily.

Date: 2012-10-16 02:40 pm (UTC)
mrstatham: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mrstatham
"Dunno what the current status of the series is in regards to canon in the New 52 but I'd imagine nothing here conflicts too heavily."

Given the occasionally massive jumps forward that Wagner made, even in the first ten issues, I think it'd be very difficult to actively contradict the series - As it is, however, it's a Vertigo series anyway, so DC are likely to have ignored it when putting the new52 together, given Xanadu's presence in JLD and DK.

Date: 2012-10-16 03:20 pm (UTC)
q99: (Default)
From: [personal profile] q99
I liked this series a lot.

Date: 2012-10-16 04:13 pm (UTC)
mrosa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mrosa
It was a good series, well written and well drawn. Amy Reeder's art got to shine regarding costume design and hairstyles with all the time jumping.

Date: 2012-10-18 07:15 am (UTC)
green_hellfish_of_doom: Ludovica from skydoll (Default)
From: [personal profile] green_hellfish_of_doom
And even then her art got better and better exponetially. Her first series Fool's Gold already had good art, but got really amazing by the time MX and got even better by the time the series ended.

Date: 2012-10-16 08:30 pm (UTC)
akodo_rokku: (Default)
From: [personal profile] akodo_rokku
This book was so amazing, I was really sad to see it go. I especially enjoyed Xan's teamups with various DC icons over the centuries. I mean, a detective story starring her and John Jones? It was beautiful.

Date: 2012-10-16 09:21 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] maseiken
I thought Merlin was born young and aged backwards.

Or am I mixing him up with Vainamoinen?

Date: 2012-10-17 03:21 pm (UTC)
shadowpsykie: Information (Default)
From: [personal profile] shadowpsykie
yep. on both accounts, it might have even been mentioned in some of the earlier texts as well.

Date: 2012-10-17 09:12 pm (UTC)
kenn_el: Northstar_Hmm (Default)
From: [personal profile] kenn_el
I thought it was Brad Pitt.

Date: 2012-10-18 01:22 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] maseiken
*Born Old* That's a bit of a typo there, :P. Luckily everyone took my meaning.

Date: 2012-10-17 12:49 am (UTC)
promethea4: (Default)
From: [personal profile] promethea4
I really enjoyed this book. Nice to see it pop up here.

Date: 2012-10-17 03:19 pm (UTC)
shadowpsykie: Information (Default)
From: [personal profile] shadowpsykie
if nimue lost her powers... then how does she become Madame Xanadu? and does she LIVE 400 yearsinto the future without her immortality?

Date: 2012-10-18 07:17 am (UTC)
green_hellfish_of_doom: Ludovica from skydoll (Default)
From: [personal profile] green_hellfish_of_doom
To be honest the series sometimes frustated me, so many problems that could have been solved with more comunication and Nimue falling over the same mistakes. I think I liked the series better after Reeder returned to art (right after Kaluta)


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