In Review: Revenge of Wonderland #2

The Liddles journey back to Wonderland, but for very different reasons.

The covers: Nine covers to drive you mad as you collect them all this month. The A cover is by Sean Chen and Ivan Nunes and it’s a beauty. Alice is wearing her blue Wonderland outfit, Calie her black Wonderland togs. Alice looks poised as if hearing something revolting, while daughter Calie looks as though she’s about to start throwing fists. Behind the pair is a beautiful forest and they’re surrounded by several gorgeous mushrooms. This is a great cover! The villainous Duchess lifts her skirt daintily as she strides toward the reader. She’s avoiding stepping on the mushrooms that lie in her path and her face says she’ll reach her destination regardless of what blocks her way. Behind her is a tree that is barely able to contain a monstrous gray creature that could be the Caterpillar. This B cover is by Igor Vitorino and Hedwin Zaldivar. I like the Duchess and the colors, but don’t care for the vague setting and the unclear creature behind her. The C is by Jay Anacleto and Ula Mos and has Alice sitting on a swing composed of vines and yellow flowers with skulls in their centers. She stares at the reader as though she’s lost. It might have something to do with her left arm covered in blood from the elbow down. She’s surrounded by several violet mushrooms covered in white nodules. The moon is the Cheshire Cat’s head, and the feline licks its lips while looking at the heroine. Nice. Harvey Tolibao and Ivan Nunes have created a really twisted D cover that spotlights the horrific caterpillar that’s absorbing several people forcibly into its chest. This is an incredibly detailed image and the colors are killer. This frontpiece creates a fantastic disturbing tone. Very well done! There’s an August In-Store Exclusive (limited to 100 copies) created by Keith Garvey, but I couldn’t find an image of it online, so good luck, collectors! A long honey haired woman turns to the reader haughtily. She’s dressed in a tight fitting black plastic top that leads to a bottom that exposes much of her rear. She’s wearing black and white stockings. Her TIE Fighter pilot helmet sits just behind her legs. Outside the window of her ship giant brightly colored mushrooms can be seen. The more limited edition has the same artwork, though the character’s top is now absent. These are the Wizard World Chicago Exclusives (limited to 350/100) by Paul Green and Mos. Dressed like the Bride from the Kill Bill movies, Calie Liddle has her katana behind her head as she smiles and begins to unzip her yellow jumpsuit. She’s leaning on the back of a car that has a tiny Cheshire Cat on it that’s playing with an air freshener that’s dangling from her sword. The freshener bears the name that’s on the back of her car: Calie Wagon. Cute cover that has the character standing out against the very blue background. This Fan Expo Toronto Exclusive (limited to 350) is by Elias Chatzoudis. Keres gets the cover treatment as a bartender, pulling on a tap that looks like Death’s scythe. The character has long hair, a short, torn top that states TORONTO, a leather skirt kept up a by skull chain, and black stockings. The background is nicely detailed, but let’s be honest — you really shouldn’t be looking at the background. A well done Fan Expo Toronto Exclusive (limited to 250) by Michael Dooney and Mos. Overall grades: A A, B B, C B, D A-, Wizard World Chicago Exclusive (350) A+, Wizard World Chicago Exclusive (100) A+, Fan Expo Toronto Exclusive (350) A-, and Fan Expo Toronto Exclusive (250) A  

The story: This issue’s story is crafted by Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, Dave Franchini, and Raven Gregory, with Gregory writing the issue. The fan who left Alice’s book signing last issue has summoned the Duchess through a mirror. The woman leads the disgruntled fan through the mirror and back to her palace in Wonderland. The building is incomplete, with floors made of mirrors that are unaligned, incomplete walls that lead to a black void, and pillars that disintegrate into the same void. Approaching the Duchess, this fan has her dress transformed into a pink version of Alice’s classic outfit. The Duchess pulls a charm from a small box. The transformed arrival asks about the large pig behind the Duchess, but is told it is none of her concern. Before she can ask any more questions, the Duchess tells her to shush and touches her lips with an index finger. Suddenly the young woman’s lips begin to seal together. She tries to scream, but can not. “Children are meant to be seen. Not heard,” says the Duchess before calling her other children. They are those abducted from the daycare center last issue. They have no eyes, mouth, or holes for their noses. And now the poor fan of Alice is the same. The Duchess takes her charm and ties it around the woman’s neck and begins to dance. This twisted beginning then transitions to Earth where Alice and Calie wake from a nightmare. This leads to one of the heroes doing some checking online and beginning to get drawn back into Wonderland. I’m happy to see that the crafters of this tale aren’t throwing Alice or Calie into the thick of things quickly, allowing them instead to have a strong scene where questions arise about whether they should believe something terrible is happening again. A creepy scene culminates on 17, leading to a decision on 19. The character that speaks on 21 was outstanding and the cliffhanger great. I’m loving the pace and the justifications for having the Liddles return to Wonderland. Overall grade: A

The art: Allan Otero’s art is fun. He’s able to create some believable situations as well as those that are unsettling. The first page has a great sense of motion as the Duchess leads her victim into Wonderland. I was surprised by the look of the Duchess’s castle, but it fit well with how Wonderland was left in the previous series, so it makes sense that it’s trying to reform itself, albeit unsuccessfully so far. The change of clothes on Page 2 is magical and appropriately creepy. The sealing mouth is gross, but that’s how it’s supposed to look. The faceless kids are okay; their blank faces are more odd than disturbing. Pages 6 and 7 have mother and daughter waking up and they look fine, but take a look at the fantastic fantasy border that surrounds their illustrations: it’s fantastic! I love that the upper left is cute and cuddly, while the lower right is a cartoony nightmare. The entrance to a familiar setting on 10 is good, with the character rightfully being in the dark. I really like that Otero had this character seeing the images on the wall and they being a tip off that all is not right at this locale. There’s just enough of a substance on 11 to be disturbing; too much would have drowned the location, but it’s the perfect amount. The objects that cause a reaction in the character are terrific! The exit on 13 is good, having the character in silhouette and disappearing from the sight of another. This individual is literally walking out of the other’s life. The character that appeared on 14 had me cheering and getting a little fearful. The last visual on the page is excellent. The symbols that appear on 16 are a fun addition to show the insanity of the situation. The outfit on 19 is…memorable. The talking character that begins 21 is great and the close up fantastic. The last page is a full-paged splash that nicely sums how things have changed. This is a well drawn book. Overall grade: A

The colors: The first colors that caught my eye appear in the third panel on Page 2, with several shades of pink and red dominating. Grostieta goes on to make purple a very supernatural color on the two pages that follow. It’s neat to see how this color is echoed in the clothes worn by the Duchess. The muted tones on 6 and 7 nicely convey the night without drowning the characters in darkness. I really like the colors at the top of 10 which highlight some aspects of the illustration while keeping just enough in the dark to make the journey tense. The sunrise outside a character’s house is very pretty. My favorite panel of the book is the close up of a character’s eye on Page 21: it’s grotesque and sets up what’s to come superbly. Overall grade: A

The letters: Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios is responsible for creating this issue’s dialogue, narration, sounds, signage, some supernatural speech, a whispered plea, and the three words that tease the next issue. The sounds punch up action sequences, such as the one that ends Page 21 and the whispered pleas on 17 perfectly creates sympathy in the reader. It’s the supernatural voice that really stands out this issue, with this character’s words looking as though they come from someone who is insane. But what else could they be if one is from Wonderland? Overall grade: A

The final line: The Liddles journey back to Wonderland, but for very different reasons. I’m really enjoying the pace that the book has in getting the leads back to this mad setting. The visuals are good, with just enough craziness peeping out from corners to hint at trouble that’s down the road. This book is a winner. 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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