In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales presents Wonderland #33

The story is interesting, but the visuals don't match it.

The covers: Convention season must be in swing, because there are a whopping six covers for hard core collectors to track down. The A cover is by Emilio Laiso featuring Calie striking a very Red Sonja-esque pose. She’s holding her sword by the hilt, point down into the ground, as her hair and the tails from her top swirl about her. She’s against a white background but stands out strongly since she, and the ground, is covered in blood. This White Queen is not going to mess around. Nicely done, though, outside from the waist up, the majority of the image is suggested and not defined, giving it somewhat unfinished look. The B is by Marat Mychaels and Sanju Nivangune has the supernatural character Terror coming in for the kill on Calie who appears to be frightened of this creature. She looks great, he looks creepy, and the coloring is bright. I like it, but I don’t believe for a second that she’d be scared of this mouthy individual. Vinz el Tabanas does the C cover and it’s a super illustration of Calie kneeling atop a pile of skulls holding some tarot cards, some of which dance in the wind. Behind her swirls a yellow and orange storm of clouds, with Terror emerging to her left. It looks spectacular. This is tee shirt, poster, and print worthy. The St Patty’s Day cover is by Franchesco! and Sabine Rich. This has an attractive raven haired magician wearing a skin tight outfit, complete with the typical Irish hat that’s producing a rabbit. It’s beautiful, but I don’t know who this is. There are also two Exclusive Magacon covers, the first being limited to 500 covers and the second to 250. Both are done by Mike Debalfo and Ivan Nunes, but I couldn’t find images of either online, so good luck, fans! Overall grades: A B, B A, C A+, and D A-

The story: The first three pages of “The Well of Dreams Part One” by Erica J. Heflin begins three weeks earlier. Calie is standing in front of her house on Earth, feeling melancholy. The home is about to be demolished and it reminds her of a part of her life she can never get back. She recalls Johnny and Brandon, but this last anchor to her past is about to be torn down. Her memories are interrupted when a former classmate sees her and strikes up a conversation, leaving her his business card if she’d like to “…catch up some time. Maybe over coffee?” As Drew leaves, she crunches the card in her hand. The scene then moves to the present at Spineweb Flats in Wonderland where the young squire is doing battle with the individual named the Terror. He’s a humanoid with spikes circling his face and head–oh, and he has mouths for eyes. He tells her not to struggle as he kills her, but she gouges him in one of his eyes/mouths, causing him to release her. She lunges for her sword on the ground, and then he does something. This two page battle introduces both characters to the readers for events that are to come later. At the Mountains of Rime and Ruin, which are a snowy hell, Calie and the Cheshire Cat aren’t hindered as they make their way to find “something.” What they encounter is a good representation of how insane Wonderland has become, and the Squire and Terror do battle elsewhere. I enjoyed the Calie and Cat portion, but I didn’t know what was going with the latter pair, so I was more interested with that storyline. What did happen exactly, I still don’t know, but I do know it was entertaining. Overall grade: A-

The art: This work by Manuel Preitano is decent, but suggests form rather than defining it. It’s sketchy. Take a look at the first panel of the first page. It’s obviously a house that is falling apart, as evidenced by its dilapidated state, but it’s really rough. The setting is really undefined behind the gate. If it wasn’t for the colors, I don’t think anyone would be able to make out what’s behind those chain links. The second panel introduces Calie, and her face has slits for eyes and mouth, with a dot for a nose. Again, the coloring saves it. Thankfully, in close-up, in the third panel, the character is clearly drawn. This is the art I want in my comics. There’s a lot of this throughout the book: excellent art side-by-side with visuals that are only suggestions. The layout of the pages is good, it’s just really loose, visually. The scenes with Calie as the White Queen look the best, while it’s the Squire and Terror’s sequences that have quick linework. The story is told clearly through the visuals, but I wish they were better. Overall grade: C- 

The colors: Leonardo Paciarotti is lifting a lot of the visual weight of this book. As stated in the art review, the colors provide the depth to the work with excellent shading work. This is done on every character and setting. I really liked the coloring done on the breeze’s snow blasts throughout the book, as they’re a really strong burst of cold that readers can feel. This is shown on Pages 6, 7, 8, and 11. Paciarotti has got a good sense of when to create a shine on an object, be it a prop or character, and that also allows the visuals to pop. Paciarotti is doing some good work on this book. Overall grade: A

The letters: Narration, dialogue, sounds, White Rabbit dialogue, and Cheshire Cat dialogue are created by Christy Sawyer. I’m always extremely pleased to see differentiation between narration and dialogue, and I’m ecstatic when nonhuman characters get a font that’s different from the normals. Sawyer does all of this, and I would have loved to see her do even more, but the shape of dialogue balloons and colors are used to show other nonhumans speaking. I’m liking what she’s doing. Overall grade: A

The final line: The story is interesting, but the visuals don’t match it. Overall grade: B

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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