In Review: Revenge of Wonderland #1

A welcome return to Wonderland that contains plenty of drama and surprises that will leave one mad with joy.

The covers: A big ten covers that could drive you insane in trying to track down. But, oh, it would be worth the price! Cover A is by Igor Vitorino and Grostieta and features Calie Liddle dressed in the classic Alice in Wonderland blue outfit sitting atop a tree stump surrounded by giant mushrooms and gorgeous vegetation. Being an adult, her stockings only go so far, revealing quite a bit of thighs. Her chin is her hands, with her elbows upon her knees, as if she was impatiently waiting for someone. A good cover that shows the protagonist. The B cover by Edgar Salazar and Ceci de la Cruz is the frontpiece I chose to accompany this review. Calie is on her knees looking as though she’s in a mental haze. Behind her are the Mad Hatter and the Duchess. Behind both these villains is the monstrous deformed Caterpillar. All four characters are surrounded by mushrooms of all sizes The illustration is beautiful and the colors outstanding. This is poster, print, and tee shirt worthy. The C cover is a sinister piece by Mike Krome. This has the evil Duchess sitting on a fat white pig. She has an unsettling smile on her face as her unnatural conveyance takes her through some sinister woods. Terrific creepy image with some eerie colors. Interior artist Allan Otero does the D cover with Sanju Nivangune handing the colors. This has the Duchess looking resplendent as she reaches behind her to stroke the first head off the grotesque Caterpillar. This creature looks as though it belongs in a nightmare from Rob Bottin. The characters are beautiful and, rightfully, disgusting, and the colors are perfect. The E cover is again by Vitorino and Grostieta. This is the same illustration as the A with some minor art changes and major coloring changes. Instead of Calie this is now Violet, though her outfit is black, not white, and her stockings are striped. The flora have also gotten some color changes. This would make a good companion piece to the A for any collector. The F cover by Leonardo Colapietro is not easy to explain. A female character is either escaping or being caught by a collection of vines. The character is is blue and white, with bandages of the same colors on the ground. Her hair is amber, writhing about her head. The background is white and gray. I don’t know what this is supposed to be, but I like it! Next is the Blank Sketch cover, which is the G cover. This is a blank white cover that features only the book’s title and credits at the top, allowing one to find an artist to create a one of kind frontpiece or to have the creators of this book sign it. As always, I like this idea of a cover, but on its own, it’s not much. There are three other covers, but, sadly, I could not find images of them online, so good luck, collectors! They are the VIP Birthday Exclusive by Elias Chatzoudis, the Retailer Birthday Exclusive by Chatzoudis, and the VIP Event Exclusive (limited to 100 copies) by Chatzoudis. Overall grades: A A, B A+, C A, D A, E A, F A+, and G C

The story: At the Butterfly Daycare center a man in a suit enters the facilities, but not before passing a child being led out of the center with his mother. As the man passes the child is told not to stare, prompting the boy to say, “But mommy…he’s a bad man.” An unknown narrator guides the reader through this opening page, stating that he or she has missed the reader, but that’s neither here nor there. “You’re here for the story. And as with all stories…This is where it begins…But for some…This the beginning of the end.” Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, Dave Franchini, and Raven Gregory have created this story, with Gregory writing the issue. Mr. Monarch speaks with the overseer of the center, she believing he’s there to have his children attend. He stops her. “Oh, I apologize. You misunderstood me. It’s not my children you should be concerned with. It’s yours.” The scene then moves into one of the classrooms and Monarch introduces himself. His eyes have gone red and the shadow he casts shows he has many limbs. Looking upon the frightened children he asks, “…Who are you?” The graphic aftermath of this statement is left hanging as the story moves to Arizona at an auto shop where Violet Liddle works as the manager. Two customers are harassing an employee and Violet feels it necessary to intercede on his behalf, and boy does she do so! This scene is secretly watched via a magic mirror by a female character in silhouette. This woman changes the image to show Calie Liddle, who is in a surprising situation. This was a terrific way to introduce this character, teasing her current state and then pulling the rug out from under the reader. The scene on Pages 13 and 14 is uncomfortable, and I admit to seeing such moments occur. Pages 18 – 20 show someone doing something really bad and looking to pay the ultimate price at some point soon. The final page reveals who has been looking at the two leads and I’m on fire to see this character in action. Overall grade: A 

The art: Allan Otero is the book’s artist and he begins with a five panel sequence that shows the boy and his mother leaving the daycare center and Mr. Monarch entering it. The villain doesn’t stop as he makes his way into the facilities, nor is he seen from the front — only his jacketed backside is shown, leaving him to be revealed in the full-paged splash on Page 2. His entrance is dramatic, as he’s dressed so formally and he’s surrounded by children’s drawings on wall, several of which are characters from Alice in Wonderland, which is a very fun choice. I don’t like that there’s so much empty space in the top third of the page, which shows the ceiling. It seems as if there was supposed to be more narration in that space than there is. Monarch’s face with the overseer again has his face hidden from the reader until he makes his threat to her, a good way to keep suspense. The final panel on the page focuses rightly on the horror of the woman, but, again, the top space of the panel is empty, save the background; this is another panel that should have been brought in more tightly to the reader. The third panel on Page 3 is outstanding for showing Mr. Monarch standing before the children and teasing his identity with a horrifically grotesque shadow behind him. The scenes that follow Violet are well done, establishing the characters and the situation, with the visuals showing something painful and teasing a relationship. The introduction of the villain is very good, revealing only her backside and the bottom of her face. Calie’s first appearance is a surprise to long time readers and an excellent way to have her appear to new readers. Another new character is introduced on 13 and she is wonderfully awkward in this situation, with her looking out of place and accidentally showing something painful to Calie and the reader. Pages 20 and 21 are the first pages to bring the horror of madness to this book, ending with a full-paged splash reveal of the villain. Well done, Mr. Otero. Overall grade: A-

The colors: This book has very realistic colors from colorist Grostieta to lure the reader into a sense of complacency, Only Mr. Monarch’s dark suit teases what his motivations are. As his conversation with the overseer takes a dark turn, notice how Grostieta changes to much darker colors that eventually overpower the woman whose fate is sealed. This change of colors also occurs on the following page, starting bright in the children’s room and becoming darker when Monarch reveals himself. The final panel on the page has a strong red background to reflect the children’s terror. The interiors of the auto shop are realistic with the backgrounds yellow to spotlight the characters. When the villain first appears notice that a blood red carpet on the floor captures her first image which is in shadow, suggesting that she has spilled blood in her past. The images shown in the mirror are given lighter colors to remind the reader that they are looking at a magical picture and not the actual events, which have much brighter colors. Page 17 uses some great greens to show a computer’s point of view while someone taps on its keyboard. Pages 20 and 21 effectively use reds and oranges for a horrible act and some cools blues and violets for dark magic. The colors used on the villain when she appears on the final page are the colors that classically symbolize royalty. A well done job. Overall grade: A

The letters: Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios creates this issue’s narration, signage, dialogue, book’s credits, scene settings, sounds, screams, laughter, computer text, a chant, and the final three words that tease there is more to come. One of the signs of a strong letterer is the ability to use different fonts for narration and dialogue, rather than relying on the shape of the balloon that contains the text or its color. The scene settings are done in a style that suggest whimsy, though slightly, and rightly, askew. The screams and laughter are bold and come off the page loudly. There are several different signs throughout the book that add an air of realism to the proceedings, with the best done with a window. The chant is done in a smaller font, suggesting it should not be spoken. Very cool. Overall grade: A 

The final line: A welcome return to Wonderland that contains plenty of drama and surprises that will leave one mad with joy. The perfect jumping in point to this saga that requires no previous readings to understand what’s going on. The characters are solid, the villain oozes evil, and the artwork is terrific. Pick this up and give it a try…Once you go down this rabbit hole you won’t be able to stop. Overall grade: A

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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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