Reviews (DC)

Madame Xanadu #1

(Cover by Michael W. Kaluta)
Published and © by DC, 1981
[Buy from Mile High]

“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
Penciler: Marshall Rogers
Inker: 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.


“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
Penciler: Brian Bolland
Inker: 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 whole issue): A-

Second opinion: “Well paced and sequenced, every panel is beautifully drawn and a small masterwork in themselves. … 5 out of 5 stars.” — Pencil Ink.

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

Not-so-cool factor: Olivia Newton-John’s “Xanadu” soundtrack— it’ll haunt you while you read this.

Notable: According to the Grand Comics Database, this was DC’s second direct-only title, and the lead story had originally been done as a fill-in issue of Doorway to Nightmare. … 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.

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5 comments to Madame Xanadu #1

  • you can’t miss with Brian Bollands work. I’m not familiar with Kaluta so I’ll check it out. Did you get my email?

  • I’ll check it out.

  • Dan:

    Yup, I got your e-mails and already responded. The Bolland work in this is excellent, as is the Rogers. And I’m shocked you’re not familiar with Kaluta! I’ve got an extra copy of this that you can have. I’ll bring it to the next CWAC meeting!


  • Edo Bosnar

    Yes, this is definitely one of those books that really showcases art rather than writing. But what beautiful contributions by all three artists.
    Since a quick web-check shows that it can still be purchased in decent condition rather cheaply (I think I paid about a dollar for my copy a few years ago), it’s worth the price just for the Kaluta cover and poster (and yes, color me shocked as well that there’s a comic fan out there who’s “unfamiliar” with Kaluta).
    By the way, Andrew, the Xanadu theme song never came into my head any time I read this book, but now that you’ve mentioned it, it’s stuck in my head. Thanks a lot…

  • Bob

    As I remember, the movie Xanadu came out not too long before this issue, and Olivia Newton-John was being played constantly on the radio. One line in the song is “Destiny, he will arrive.” Considering that Destiny and Madame Xanadu are both DC mystery characters, I always have that song running through my head when I read a story with either of them.

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