After she and her teammates on the Demon Knights successfully defend the town of Little Spring from the forces of the Questing Queen, the team moves on while Madame Xanadu explains the relationship between herself and Etrigan and Jason Blood. She is also a member of Justice League Dark in modern times where she has helped the team battle the Enchantress. She is presently helping the team in the story arc Rise of the Vampires. The Vampire War is over and she still sees the vision that brought her around to creating the Justice League Dark. She sees a multitude of dead. The more visible dead are Etrigan, Swamp Thing, Frankenstein, Andrew Bennett, Zatanna, and Constantine. Constaintine then becomes Black Orchid and when she turns Constantine is levitating along with The Books of Magic. He has kept her alive along enough to see the end of the world, telling her The Books are too powerful to be possessed by anyone, even him. He whispers in her ear that only one person is pure enough to possess The Books. When Xanadu hears the name she awakens from her vision.
Madame Xanadu's origins were explored in the first few arcs of her Vertigo series. According to these stories, her full name was once Nimue Inwudu and she is the youngest sister of Morgana (to become Morgaine Le Fay) and Vivienne, the Lady of the Lake. The sisters are descendants of the Elder Folk, survivors of Atlantis who evolved into the race known as the Homo Magi.
Madame Xanadu is the same Nimue who casts an imprisoning spell on her former lover Merlin, blaming him for manipulating Camelot and the course of history for his own gain. Merlin has the last laugh, though, as he succeeds in stripping her magic away from her, forcing her to use potions to maintain her immortality. The mysterious Phantom Stranger influences her betrayal of Merlin and the two continue to meet throughout the centuries, sharing an ambivalent relationship. Shortly after this, either she or the Lady of the Lake (regardless, called "Nimue") bore a son to Kon-Sten-Tyne, an ancestor of John Constantine. The child was left with Kon-Sten-Tyne, who sacrificed the boy as a teenager to Eve.
Nimue wanders around the world for some time, becoming an advisor to many great rulers. She spends time in Kublai Khan's court at Xanadu, leading to her assumed name of "Madame Xanadu." Again she meets the Phantom Stranger. It does not go as expected, for she learns the Stranger walks outside of the timestream. During the French Revolution, she attempts to advise Marie Antoinette. During this era, she is able to regain her immortality by besting Death in a card game. Other incidents in her long years of life include a doomed lesbian love affair during the Spanish Inquisition.
In the 1940s, she has a sexual relationship with John Zatara, who wishes to marry her, but she foresees his true love, and the later existence of his daughter, Zatanna, "a love with whom she could never compete." Despite this, she uses Zatara to trap and ensnare the Phantom Stranger, preventing him from witnessing, and affecting, the supernatural origins of the Spectre. This, in turn, prevents Madame Xanadu from interfering, despite having foreseen the potential menace the unchecked Spectre would have brought on Earth. It's revealed that Xanadu's later behavior stems from this earlier fault, her magic parlor being devised as a way to control the supernatural being, ultimately hoping to restrain and quell his rage.
Eventually, Madame Xanadu decides that she wants to atone for her sins and begins operating the fortune-telling parlor out of "the Village". She however remains without any real magic might of her own, which has led her to manipulate various forces in order to gain power. Having developed herself as an advisor, she now meets clientele plagued by supernatural problems. Although she can advise them, some force prevents her from directly interfering in solving their troubles. If one of her clients manages to conquer a supernatural force, she can contain that entity in jars within her fortune parlor to prevent it from causing any further trouble.
Madame Xanadu was created by David Michelinie, Val Mayerik and Michael William Kaluta.
Original Continuity: New Earth
A sign on the front door of the Christy Street shop says, "Enter freely - unafraid." The door always seems locked to those who are just wandering by, giving it a curious glance, but for those troubled by things beyond the ken of this world, the door is always open, no matter what the time, and Madame Xanadu waits within and greets them by name. She waits, ready to listen, near a small round table where her tarot cards lie. The frightened travelers, coming inside, are surrounded by a comforting scent of mint-jasmine, and a curious collection of crystal jars, magical artifacts of all types, and endless rows of books containing a wealth of esoteric knowledge. Madame Xanadu is not surprised by their arrival, and seems to already know the trouble they are in, but she makes them tell their story, perhaps to make them clarify it to themselves. She offers the guidance of the tarot cards, giving them her interpretation of their plight through the symbols of the cards, but she makes no moves to interfere. As they stumble away to face their demons, she sometimes seems to a company them, stepping in to intercede only after they have made a move to protect themselves, and the demons seem to vanish.
Madame Xanadu takes no payment for her services, but from each event she is seen leaving with a reminder of the case, which is now firmly entombed in one of the many opalescent jars that line her parlor shelves, macabre reminders of the evil that has just been overpowered by the soul of this person who came to her in need. Madame Xanadu seems to be the guardian of many treasures, magical artifacts that somehow make their way to her and, even when stolen from her, always find their way back to her care. Nothing is known of her origin, although she is rumored to be of Gypsy blood and to have come from Europe in some other time. Greenwich Village residents can't remember a time when Madame Xanadu's place was not there, or any time when she looked any different. Madame Xanadu is the keeper of many secrets, the biggest secret being the truth behind her own story.
Madame Xanadu's Vertigo days started in 2008, where Matt Wagner tried to create a back history for a character with fairly none. While at Vertigo her character was allowed to feature many DCU characters that most Vertigo series did not get to after the "invisible wall" of 1993 was created between DCU and Vertigo. Because of the 2010 editorial mandate to return the DCU characters this Vertigo series because causality of it and was canceled prematurely. The sales were respectable monthly for a Vertigo series, it was somewhere in the middle sales wise compared to the rest of the imprint. Because of her relation to the DCU this series was canceled. This cancellation left a bitter taste in a lot of Vertigo fans mouth since the series could still work the way it was and felt the move to cancel the series was unjust.
Post-Flashpoint / Earth Prime
Post-Flashpoint, she has been shown during the Middle Ages to have been the lover of Jason Blood/Etrigan the Demon, and will eventually fight alongside him and others in a team known as the Demon Knights. Both Xanadu and Etrigan are immortals who have witnessed an event known as the "Fall of Camelot". She will also be appearing as an integral member of the Justice League Dark.
Major Story Arcs
Original Continuity: New Earth
Day of Vengeance
The Spectre once burned Madame Xanadu's eyes out of her. She can grow them back, but each time she does so, they wither. It seems the Spectre's curse is too powerful for her skills to overcome. However, she still "sees" what the cards are saying.
Post-Flashpoint / Earth Prime
Justice League Dark
Due to circumstances unknown, June Moon, Enchantress' human host, suddenly was separated from the powerful witch, causing her to go mad. Magical events started popping up all over the world wreaking havoc, while Enchantress searched for June Moon. Not even the Justice League were able to stop her, so Madame Xanadu took it upon herself to form a team that could. While Xanadu attempts to reach various magic heroes, June ends up on the doorstep of Dawn Granger aka Dove, who is Deadman's girlfriend. Deadman want's to help the girl, protecting her from the Enchantress, and due to stress in his relationship with Dove, he begins to grow feelings for June. Meanwhile, Zatanna attempts to subdue Enchantress herself, but is unable to do so, getting trapped in a magical coma of sorts, which Constantine snaps her out of. With Shade being the first to work with Xanadu, the both of them attempt to recruit the others, to no avail, all the while Enchantress is getting closer to June and Deadman. With Enchantress' attacks growing in power, Zatanna finally excepts Xanadu's recruitment, just as Enchantress finds and corners Deadman and June. Using Shade's powers, he attempts to open a teleportation door that would allow Deadman and June to transport themselves to their location, but only Deadman makes it through, leaving June at Enchantress' mercy. Angered, Deadman flies off in order to find June again and protect her, but before Enchantress can do anything to June, Constantine appears, casting a magical barrier around the two. Constantine had deduced that for some reason, it was Xanadu who had split June and Enchantress apart, and begins to repeat the spell that would bind them back together. Deadman finds Constantine doing this, and not knowing what Constantine is doing tries to stop him but is unable to. After this John successfully binds June and Enchantress back together, quelling her madness. Sometime later, Constantine, Shade, Deadman and Zatanna meet with Xanadu, who admits to causing the trouble, saying she had a vision of the future and needed a reason to bring the heroes together. None of the would be team are too pleased with Xanadu, ignoring her warnings, and storming off separately.
Rise of the Vampires
After their battle with the Enchantress, Constantine, Zatanna, Shade and Deadman all begin to have horrid dreams. This brings them all back to Xanadu's magic shop, where she explains that they are glimpses of the future that would have come true had she not brought them all together to fight Enchantress. She continues, saying that whether or not they like it, it's best that they stick together as a team, to prevent such futures from occurring. Suddenly, Xanadu is stricken with a great pain as she senses a disturbance in the world's magic. What she's sensing is the death of vampire Andrew Bennett in Gotham City, leading to the resurrection of Cain the original, and most powerful vampire.
The JLD travel to Gotham where they are met with a massive attack on the city from Cain's vampire forces, which he took control of from Mary, Queen of Blood, Andrew's lover. Cain's presence also begins to siphon all magical energy towards himself, which leaves the teams powers weakened. In order to combat Cain, Xanadu tasks Constantine and Deadman to enter Purgatory in an attempts to retrieve Andrew, while she enters a trance in order to enter an astral plain in an effort to acquire more help, while Zatanna and Shade are forced to protect her body on a rooftop as they, along with Batman and Andrew's allies square off against more and more vampires.
Angry that her horde was stolen from her, Mary eventually comes to the defense of Zatanna and Shade, but Cain begins to power up his new army with all the magical energy he siphoned. While Constantine and Deadman find Andrew, he seems uninterested in coming back to fight, saying he has nothing left in him, meanwhile, Xanadu has the Crystal One shift the tides of magic. Back in Gotham, Zatanna eventually transports herself, Xanadu and Mary to Robinson park where Constantine and Deadman show up empty handed, followed by Cain and his vampires. Before the team can be attacked, the effects of the Crystal One's shifts are seen, as a rejuvenated Andrew appears, proclaiming he found some fight left in him. With his new powers, he takes control of the vampire horde, proclaiming he is to lead them, and reuniting with Mary. He uses the horde to hold back Cain while he decapitates the primordial vampire. With Cain gone, Mary suggests finishing the job, killing the humans, but Andrew stops her, saying they've exposed their kind enough for one night, and uses his powers to erase the memory from all but the JLD and his friends.
Books of Magic
Madame Xanadu, being a part of the team that A.R.G.U.S dubbed as the Justice League Dark, a team reserved for battling magic-related occurrences, was recruited by Steve Trevor for a mission. They were to retrieve a member of A.R.G.U.S. called Doctor Mist, a shaman who was trying to uncover an altercation caused by Felix Faust, but has been unable to establish contact and has not returned for days. The team set on to find Doctor Mist, and what they discover shocks them--the map to the books of magic, presumed lost to the world, is right in front of them. Madame Xanadu explains that no one should ever take possession of the books for they hold great power. It has been prophesied that only the one named Hunter, the greatest sorcerer the world will ever see, is allowed to open the books. Madame Xanadu, Zatanna, and John Constantine have met the prophesied bearer named Timothy Hunter. The three of them devoted their time into molding Timothy into becoming an agent of good, for they weren't the only ones interested in him. After several unfortunate occurrences, Timothy Hunter decided to swore of magic and Xanadu, Zatanna, and Constantine leave him to be.
Madame Xanadu has a vision regarding the chaos that the Books of Magic will bring. She sees millions of dead people, including those of her team member's. In an elaborate scheme involving a long gone friend of both Constantine and Zatanna, named Nick Necro, with the aid of sorcerer Felix Faust, and A.R.G.U.S. member turned traitor Shaman Doctor Mist, the Books of Magic were retrieved through deception. However, despite having the books in their possession, they were unable to open it, for only one with the Hunter bloodline was capable. Either Hunter had to die, or he himself had to open it.
Upon touching the books, Timothy Hunter activated a portal bringing him to another dimension, with Zatanna latched on to him.
Back on Earth, Dr. Peril opens a portal and Constantine, Deadman, Frankenstein, Black Orchid and Madame Xanadu go to rescue them. Due to some imbalance of magic, various undesirable effects occurred to some of the members of the JLD. Constantine couldn't lie. Black Orchid was transformed into some kind of flesh monster. Madame Xanadu began to rapidly age. Deadman came back to life, only to be shot again almost immediately afterwards, causing him to return to his normal self. Frankenstein is the only member that is not affected.
Madame Xanadu's rapid aging intensified, and as a last effort to hold on, she looks into the future and saw that her team survives but her. After the ensuing war, the whole team survives and manages to come back the their own dimension. Timothy and his father remain as guardians of the real world to which they belonged to. Upon returning, Madame Xanadu regains back her youth. Deadman compliments her on her new-found youth, and she thanks him.
Powers and Abilities
- Magic: Madame Xanadu has a supernatural sensitivity to occult activities and mystic phenomena.
- Precognition: She uses tarot cards to interpret what she senses, and is also able to tell the future of others.
- Levitation: Xanadu can levitate objects as well as herself.
- Teleportation: Through her own mystical prowess she can teleport herself (which she does mostly) and others (on occasion).
- Immortality: Madame Xanadu is an immortal, never aging and unable to be killed in any manner, thanks to her deal with Death.
- Tarot Reading: She is highly skilled at tarot card reading, which she uses to determine the nature and truth of what she perceives magically.
- Occultism: She also has increased understanding in all things supernatural.
- Non-Intervention: Madame Xanadu is prohibited by some unknown powers to actively assist her clients, other than giving them advice. Only until after they have personally taken action can she actively intervene.
- Blindness: Madame Xanadu is blind in both eyes. She was magically blinded when she tried to cast a spell on Merlin. Although gaining the power enough to regrow her eyes 14 times, they were blinded or torn out again and again through the Spectre's own magic.
- Magical Items: Tarot Cards, Crystal Ball, Madame Xanadu's parlour is full of magical books and objects, as well as jars containing the essences of malevolent entities. She rarely uses these objects of power, merely acting as a guardian of them.
Madame Xanadu appears in the Young Justice television episode "Denial". She is different from that of her comic book counterpart in that she is a fake. Her shop (in New Orleans) is visited by Kent Nelson, Doctor Fate, who wishes to speak to his dead wife. He proves her a fake (with a car jack under the table and a wind machine), which he says is a shame since she had the right aura around her.