The return of Michael Kaluta to the character that he designed over thirty years ago is totally stunning. At several times throughout the book, this extraordinarily talented artist seems to be channeling the spirits of both Caravaggio and Bernini into his exquisitely rendered panels and the results would not look out of place, framed on any art gallery wall.
Kaluta draws Xanadu with a lightness of line which gives the whole book such a rich contrast that at times you almost wish that the palette of Eisner winning colorist Dave Stewart had not been used at all so that we could have appreciated Kalutaâ€™s striking delineations in black and white.
Reading and then immediately re-reading this book caused me to dig into my collection and pull out the first issue of the 1973 D.C Shadow comic just so that I could compare how Kaluta rendered pre-war New York in here and a generation ago. To my eye there was no absolutely difference at all. Both were marvelous and both excellently captured the spirit of the time period they were set in.
Of course, time is at the essence of every Madame Xanadu story written by Matt Wagner. From the very first issue he has played about with the linear flow of the main characters life and this issue is no exception. This time the action is set in both 1940 Manhattan and the time of the Spanish Inquisition. We donâ€™t yet know how both these plot strands come together because this is just the first section of a five part story but I have total faith that the destination Wagner is leading us to will be well worth the journey.
This writer is justly famed for the groundbreaking work on his Grendel character but I feel that he is really excelling himself writing this particular book and he is pulling out all the stops to make sure that every issue continues to enhance the Xanadu experience. It wouldnâ€™t surprise me if he also somehow managed to introduce the characters from the infamous 1980â€™s Xanadu musical and make it not only interesting reading but also neatly tie it in to Crisis on Infinite Earths continuity as well. He is just that good.
That in essence is whatâ€™s right with this comic. Both the writer and artist are at the top of their game and any money spent on this book is intellectual cash in the head bank.
This comic merits five stars and absolutely deserves your time and attention.