Madame Xanadu (vol 2): Exodus Noir by Matt Wagner
Art: Michael Wm. Kaluta
I loved the first Madame Xanadu story, so I’m sad to say that I was a bit disappointed by this one. The story was entertaining enough, and the art was okay. It just didn’t capture me.
The art was the first major drawback in this book. Kaluta draws too much. I know this is a weird thing to say; as usually with comic artists trying to crank out enough to fill an issue, they tend to draw too little. However, Kaluta needed to take Coco Chanel’s advice, take off one thing before you leave home. Or in this case, take out some of the lines and some of the action. It was just too much all around.
Story-wise, Wagner’s juxtaposition of the current Madame Xanadu in New York City in 1940 doing her fortune reader / mystery solver days and then Madame Xanadu in Spain during the Inquisition was just too much. Too many contrasting ideas. There was nothing beyond a random demon curse tying the two times together. (I don’t think in Madame Xanadu’s long-life that deaths count as tying the story together.)
Catherine Shepherd was a pretty unsympathetic character. Especially as she seemingly set up Madame Xanadu to be mocked by her high-society friends. Sure, she wanted to find out what happened to her father, but it just felt off. And all the men who Madame Xanadu tries to save come off as unsympathetic was well. Plus, they only inherited the curse, which is just rather not fair, even if they turned out to be jerks.
I did enjoy the parts of the story where Madame Xanadu was with Marisol. Their relationship was very sweet, and I love to see Wagner showing Madame Xanadu in love and happy. (Unlike in the first story where she’s betrayed by Merlin and knows that John Zatara is destined for another.) Though can we please never have Kaluta draw a tongue sticking out in a french kiss again. Never. Ever.
Perhaps the story with Marisol lost some ummph since you know from the very beginning that she’s going to be burned as a witch. Especially after reading Vol 1 and the French Revolution part that Madame Xanadu does not save anyone from. Even so Wagner does a good job with some suspense building when Marisol delivers her goods to the priests.
The cleverest part is at the end where Wagner does a smart use of the ’40s Sandman. I love that Madame Xanadu recognizes him. Because yes, other superheroes would notice a demon.
I’m going to keep reading the rest of Madame Xanadu‘s series. And I hope that the next book improves both art and plot-wise. I hope Wagner explores more of her redemption story instead of trying to write noir.
Buy Madame Xanadu Vol. 2: Exodus Noir by Matt Wagner and see what you think.