Madame Xanadu has been around the DC universe for quite a while and she always seems to play small roles in the stories of others. She is enigmatic and mysterious and that’s the way I like her. Matt Wagner has come in and started telling some of her stories going way back to the time of Merlin and giving us an origin. Kudos to Wagner for being able to do this and still keep her mysterious. This second collection has our magical heroine in the 1940’s New York, a time of noir. The setting is familiar to Wagner as he spent quite a few years there with the golden age Sandman. It’s no surprise actually that we get a guest shot from Wesley Dodds and his partner Diane Belmont (two of my all time favorite characters). The tale opens with a business man dying in strange circumstances and the family coming to Xanadu for help in finding out what really happened. This means in addition to her regular activities involving divining futures and other things magical, she is also doing some PI work. She finds the next potential victims and tries to warn them. Being arrogant white business men of the times they of course ignore her. Eventually she tracks down the source of the crimes and deals with its supernatural element and puts an end to the ages old curse. Wagner uses flashbacks to the time of the Spanish Inquisition to help tell the story and to ground Xanadu’s involvement in the case. It’s a wonderful blend of magic and noir and truly inspired story telling. It touches on the problems with religions and faith and distrust and fear. And it really whets the appetite for more. Matt Wagner is in top form, and to make the package perfect Michael William Kaluta is doing the art. It’s his kind of time period and he really does an amazing job at making it look authentic. If you haven’t read Madame Xanadu yet, for God’s Sake pick it up RIGHT NOW.

Jon Jordan