In Review: Wonderland #45

A change of artists is for the better as the power of Wonderland is finally on display.

The covers: Five to seek out as you make your way in search of those loosed from Wonderland. The A cover is by Ian Richardson and Sanju Nivangune. Calie Liddle is on Earth and she’s not better off: she’s in the swamps surrounded by several people who want to take her down. She’s not going to go easily, given her pose and demeanor by Richardson. The colors by Nivangune are also good, with the protagonist being the brightest character, forcing the reader to look at her before considering her foes. This is a decent shot of Calie surrounded by humans out for blood, something I don’t think has ever been on a cover of this series. The B cover is quite the bizarre image: the March Hare is taking a pin to a doll that resembles Calie. It’s freakish and absolutely at home on this series. An outstanding illustration by Noah Salonga and great coloring by Wes Hartman. The next cover, the C, might look familiar to readers. It’s by Franchesco! and it’s the complete image of a cover that was the Valentine’s Day Exclusive for Issue #45. The difference is this frontpiece has been pulled back to show the entire illustration by the artist and it’s great. It’s a patchwork doll of Violet. Her face looks amazing, with gorgeous eyes and a red heart on her right check, and a tangle of long yellow hair spilling out from under a Mad Hatter hat. She looks ready to tip her hat, and that’s when things get odd: the remainder of her is a collection of flesh colored pieces sewn together. This is a bizarre image, but as with the B cover, entirely fitting. The C2E2 Exclusive, limited to 250 copies, is by Elias Chatzoudis. It features Calie in a Chicago police officer’s uniform in front of a police car with the famous city skyline behind her. This is a “good girl” cover, as she wearing a short black skirt and she’s unbuttoned several of the buttons on her top revealing some cleavage. Wow! There’s also another C2E2 Exclusive, limited to 100 copies, also by Chatzoudis. I couldn’t find a copy of it online, so good luck tracking that one down! Overall grades: A B, B A, C A+, and C2E2 Exclusive A+

The story: On the streets of New Orleans at night a scream for help is heard by a couple. The woman wants to see who needs assistance, but her boyfriend convinces her that they’ll alert a police officer when they come upon one. In the alley a large young man is having his head shoved into the concrete. His assailant is wearing an odd rag in front of his face and says, “You like it rough? That what attracted you to the muscle head?” Elsewhere, a similar situation is happening to another man, this time being beaten down by a woman wearing a mask. The victim gets up and defiantly spits some blood at her. The woman pulls a taser and says, “I’m not the one you need to impress, boy.” She jabs the device at him and the scene then moves to Calie and Violet walking down the street with the Cheshire Cat. Calie wants to investigate the eight missing persons in the area that all seem to match the March Hare’s M.O. As they walk past some revelers, one vomits in front of Violet. “These people are crazy,” she says. That sparks the cat to responds, “An odd judgement for you to make.” What the Hare is doing with these people is pretty insane, but what would one expect of him? Erica J. Heflin nicely weaves an action scenario into her story, and in the process finds a way to have one of the heroic trio undergo a change that will spell trouble for the other two next month. And I really have to thank Ms. Heflin for the second and fourth panels on Page 21: I shouldn’t have enjoyed them so much, but I really did. Overall grade: A

The art: Ferran Sellares takes over as artist with this issue and it’s a big step up from the previous issues. The character work on the first page instantly alerted me that this book was going to look good, and it does. The worry on the two characters’ faces on the first page tells readers without words exactly how each feels about hearing the scream. The next two pages show a pair of men being taken down by two very different antagonists. Again, Sellares is telling the story so well, the text isn’t needed, though the banter between the final pair is worth hearing. Calie and Violet’s trek down the street is nicely done, with the appropriate amount of people and crassness on display. When the Hare appears he’s in a very different form than he’s appeared in over the last year and he is a monster. What he’s shown doing to people only increases his madness. Pages 9, 14, 19 – 21 are amazingly horrific action sequences. I admit to loving a good fight scene, but what Sellares has them do takes all the pleasure out of a fight as he makes it a do or die to the death situation. And as I stated with the story, I shouldn’t have enjoyed those two panels on Page 21 but I admit to feeling a “Hell, yeah!” Beautiful, mad art. Overall grade: A

The colors: The visuals of this book are sent into the stratosphere because of the outstanding coloring of Leonardo Paciarotti. The lights of the streets of New Orleans are incredible. I loved the rosy glow that emanated over the panels, creating an ancient, gay, subdued tone. The pink flesh of the March Hare was completely grotesque but absolutely suited to his new physique. The green color employed by the Hare was completely eerie and made me think of Herbert West’s concoctions. When the green reappeared in the swamp it gave the setting a similar eerie feeling. There’s a lot of fire in the finale and Paciarotti works the yellow, oranges, and reds fantastically. Overall grade: A

The letters: Scene settings and dialogue (the same font), yells, sounds, Cheshire Cat speak, March Hare dialogue, and the tease for next issue are created by Christy Sawyer. I’m impressed with the unique font for the two Wonderland creatures and the sounds in this installment are cringe worthy. An excellent job by Sawyer. Overall grade: A

The final line: A change of artists is for the better as the power of Wonderland is finally on display. The March Hare is running amok and Calie has to stop him. A twisted tale that is wonderfully mad. Overall grade: A

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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