Bookwormishness · Geekery

Comics You May Love (Despite Yourself): Madame Xanadu

Time for another fun comic book for you! This time I’m going to talk about a series that is actually finished (for now), Madame Xanadu by Matt Wagner. The title character is actually Nimue, one of the Old Folk, an immortal magical being. Her story begins in the woods during the times of Camelot. She and Merlin get into a tussle and she loses her magical powers for a while. She has to get by with mortal wits, though she does know the mortal arts of divining to survive in the meantime.

We follow Nimue’s story throughout time, as she experiences a number of significant historical events and meets a lot of interesting people, including a dark and mysterious Stranger who has even more magic and mystery about him than she does. She blends with the mortals, mainly making herself out to be a healer or a fortune teller as the situation requires, but the Stranger knows exactly who she is and what she can do. He becomes both her friend, because of their shared immortality and mysticism, and her arch-nemesis as he thwarts her plans to interfere in human affairs.

Nimue does eventually get her powers back, and she often uses them to divine the evils plaguing humans and tries to fix whatever the trouble is. She encounters demons and saves possessed souls; she tangles with the Inquisition and tries to stop Jack the Ripper. She’s very intense and righteous, which makes it a bit pleasing to the reader every time she’s surprised or tricked. She doesn’t always get the best of every situation or get the outcome she wants, which is actually sort of refreshing. But the stories are still interesting to read, and she is seemingly the only one of the Old Folk who actually cares to try and help humans. The mystery of the Stranger is intriguing throughout, because he seems to be neither good nor bad; he’s simply there to make sure that nothing happens to drastically alter the course of human history, I think. Perhaps an agent for God or Destiny or something. Anyway – if you like ancient mythology, fortune telling, general mysticism and a bit of history, you just might like Madame Xanadu.

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