Review: Madame Xanadu #1

Madame Xanadu #1 cover
Cover by Michael W. Kaluta

Madame Xanadu #1
Published and © by DC, 1981

Title: “Dance for Two Demons”
Synopsis: Madame Xanadu helps stop a drug addict and a young woman experimenting with witchcraft from unleashing a pair of demons.

Writer: Steve Englehart
Artist: Marshall Rogers

Review: While certainly solid, this lead story doesn’t quite meet its potential. Marshall Rogers art is gorgeous – and plenty detailed, even without Terry Austin on inks. But Steve Englehart’s story about witchcraft lacks any magic of its own. A bit daring for DC circa 1981, but pretty standard stuff overall.


Title: “Falling Down to Heaven …”
Synopsis: When an Earthling’s spacecraft crashes, he’s left at the mercy of an alien whose race has been savaged by humans.

Writer: J.M. DeMatteis
Artist: Brian Bolland

Review: J.M. DeMatteis’ backup story is a winner, but again it’s the art – this time by Brian Bolland – that really shines.

Grade (for the entire issue): A-

Second opinion: “Unless it starts a trend in direct-sales marketing, Madame Xanadu has little significance except as further evidence that the middlebrow mentality has nothing to offer in shaking off the modern malaise.” – R. Fiore, The Comics Journal #65, August 1981 … “Ironically, it will be remembered more for the touching seven-page SF back up tale … rather than the slightly disappointing lead feature.” – Adrian P. Snowdon, FantaCo’s Chronicle’s Series Annual #1, 1983 … “A lead feature that might have held water have been published in the flower-power days.” – The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide (second edition), 2003

Cool factor: “Hey, there, fledgling direct-sales market, have we got a product for you …”

Notable: According to the Grand Comics Database, this was DC’s second direct-only title. The lead story had originally been intended for the cancelled Doorway to Nightmare, and the backup story for the cancelled Mystery in Space. … Includes a slick-stock, pullout poster of Madame Xanadu by Michael W. Kaluta. … Also includes a one-page text feature, “Tarot Reading,” explaining how tarot cards work. … According to Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed, Englehart and Rogers morphed unused Madame Xanadu material into their Scorpio Rose series for Eclipse.

Character quotable: “You’ll not find what you’re looking for here … at least … not what you’ve come to find!” – Madame Xanadu

Editor’s note: This review was originally published by Comics Bronze Age on Aug. 10, 2010.

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