In Review: Wonderland #40

This would be an outstanding title if the right artist were found.

The covers: A trio to drive you crazy as you collect them. The A cover is by Marat Mychaels and Sanju Nivangune. It features Liddle holding a sword against two dragons, with one swooping down upon her, fire erupting from its mouth. It doesn’t seem she has any possible hope of survival against creatures so large and spouting such death. The dragons looks great and the coloring is fantastic. The B is by Jarreau Wimberly and it’s the image I’ve chosen to accompany this review. Violet Liddle is possessed by the spirits of the Mad Hatters and she’s dressed to kill. She looks sharp and incredibly evil. The magentas used in this illustration make Violet pop. The final cover, the C, is by Meguro and it has Calie and Sela, side by side, looking at the reader. Very well done, though a generic composition of these two leads. Overall grades: A A, B A+, and C B+

The story: Erica J. Heflin, working from a story crafted by herself, Ralph Tedesco, and Joe Brusha, has a lot of plot elements moving forward, ending in a very surprising way. The book begins with an attack on some of Wonderland’s citizens by a dragon. The beast bellows an icy frost upon the people, causing their flesh to melt, leaving their skeletons preserved in the ice. Calie is quickly on the scene with a flaming sword, accompanied by the Cheshire Cat. They are easily defeated by the overgrown lizard. She says to the beast, “You’re…m-murdering innocent people, R-Rime…W-Whatever you are…W-Whatever you were…It c-can’t continue…I…I w-won’t allow it.” The beast gets eye to eye with her. “Wonderland ish not yoursh. Wonderland belongs to no one!” It then leaves. Calie can’t understand why it killed the people, while the cat can’t understand why it didn’t kill them since they were defeated. A tattoo on a blown off arm tells them where to go next. The scene then changes to the villains’ location where something incredibly graphic is occurring. This goes into Clive Barker territory, and that’s a compliment! The super villain’s plot is revealed and if he’s successful it will change everything about Wonderland. Before his results are revealed, Sela and Calie have a moment that does not go well. Added to this is Calie’s search for Violet on earth, where her daughter is having some major issues. The last page features the ultimate cliffhanger and the ultimate army. Things are ramping up and Calie is stuck between her daughter and Wonderland. A very, very good read. Overall grade: A 

The art: A new artist, Giorgia Sposito, does not improve the quality from the previous issue. The book starts with the dragon putting the zap on the innocents. It’s difficult to determine initially that the blast from the beast is turning the individuals into skeletons before freezing their bones. It’s only on Page 4 that this is evident. Pages 2 and 3 are a double-page spread of Calie fighting the dragon and it’s very difficult to make out where the characters are in relationship to one another and by having the dragon in the center, it’s difficult to tell when this image occurs in the sequence given. At the top of the fourth page Sposito begins to do something that is repeated throughout the book: no backgrounds. This is Wonderland, the environment is in the title, it’s the star of the book, and it’s not given enough focus or time by the artist. Saying that, the introduction of the new setting and the characters on Page 6 is great. It’s horrific, exactly as the story demands, and what one character does to another is downright creepy. However, on Page 8 the details are lacking; everything seems too smooth. Readers should be as disgusted by this page as they were with Page 6, but this is too passive. Page 9 has too much space wasted with empty areas. This is continued on several pages, including the next four. This should be done to enhance the mood, and it’s not doing that on any pages. I want to see backgrounds and I want to see full pages of art. I’m not getting that with this issue. Overall grade: D+

The colors: This is dark fantasy book and there’s nothing color-wise to suggest fantasy. The one color that will be remembered after this book is read is grey. There is no feasible reason for Leonardo Paciarotti to use the most drab, boring color to fill in the vast empty spaces of this book. It sucks the life out of the story. The book doesn’t start this way. The opening pages are bright, though there are bad things occurring, it’s Wonderland, so the colors should be bright. The dragon is colored sharply. Page 6 is the brightest page of the book and it’s the most disturbing: the coloring gives it this effect. The rest of the book is just a big blah. A dark story doesn’t mean the book has to be darkly colored. Overall grade: D

The letters: Narration, dialogue, Cheshire speech, Red Rabbit speech, King of Spades dialogue, Mad Hatter dialogue, and a scream are crafted by Christy Sawyer. A highpoint of Zenescope’s books are the letterers who are allowed to create individual fonts for otherworldly characters. Sawyer does this as well and they look terrific, save one — the Hatter. Her dialogue is too thin and looks as though it was scrawled at the last minute. If the lettering had been a little thicker, though in the same style, it would have looked much better. Overall grade: B+

The final line: Loving the story, not liking the visuals. This would be an outstanding title if the right artist were found. Overall grade: C-

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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