In Review: Revenge of Wonderland #5

The opening scene outshines the fight, which goes as one would expect.

The covers: Here’s a surprise: there are no chase covers to track down! Just the four covers that all Zenescope books have. The A cover by Igor Vitorino and Ivan Nunes is awesome for some striking character work. Violet in her black Wonderland garb holds a wicked knife up to protect herself from the horrors of this land. She is looking at the reader, as if the threat will come from this direction. If only she looked behind her she would see the tremendous form of the Duchess who’s warped into a Hulk-like horror, complete with massive arms and shoulders, sharp teeth, and horns. This character looks exceptional and could tease the true form of this villain. The colors on this are also good with the violets, blues, and misty greens outstanding. The next cover, the B by Sheldon Goh and Vinicius Andrade, has a good Calie waving an ax on a pole at four of the faceless tweens that have fallen into the Duchess’s clutches. The hero looks good with her colors very striking in blue and white. The evil children look just blah. This is not Goh’s fault, they’ve been difficult to create throughout this series. The colors the foursome are wearing are also very blah, making them fade into the green surroundings. The bright mushrooms punch up the setting nicely. The “Good Girl” cover is the C created by Michael DiPascale and Sanju Nivangune. This has the Duchess sitting in a red leather chair that has a golden frame. The character is sitting in the chair with her legs crossed and one hand to her head, which demonstrates she’s willing to use her female charms to seduce the weak. Great cover with great colors. The exact opposite of this cover is the D. This frontpiece by Harvey Tolibao and Nunes has a monstrous bloated Duchess standing on an intricately detailed tree base with a castle behind her. The character has all the attributes of the Duchess as seen on Cover A, though her chest is larger (EWWW!) and her fingers end in claws. She looks sensational and the colors are awesome, with that orange sun making the browns and violets grotesque. Overall grades: A A-, B B-, C A, and D A+ 

The story: I’ve never seen any Wonderland book, or Zenescope title for that matter, start so cosmically. In the Limbo of Wonderland a hooded woman with rainbow hair makes her way through an orange miasma while holding a large clock that would make Salvador Dali happy. She discusses time. After considering this topic she moves onto another. “This is about the Why. And the Why is like a dream come true.” The story then becomes the past showing the Red Queen’s return to the throne after the White Queen has left Wonderland. Though she’s being hailed by a massive crowd, she asks a guard where the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Hatter are. He says they’ve vanished and that’s when something appears. The skies turn cloudy, lightning explodes everywhere, and tornadoes signal the arrival of a cloaked figure on a mountaintop with a mirror. A surprising admission is given on Page 8 followed by a shock on 9. The story returns to the present on 10 where Calie is staring down the Duchess, while Violet is tied to a chair behind them. Words are exchanged, punches and kicks exchanged, and a clear victor decided. The high point of the issue is the dialogue on 18 and 19, with this needed to be said: it allows the characters to grow and it is absolutely what would be said by two people in this situation. The cliffhanger is good with a character’s true self finally shown with the protagonists in trouble. The opening was more enjoyable than the scenes in the present for they take the reader down their expected path. This is an enjoyable read, but not a thrilling one from Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, Dave Franchini, and Raven Gregory, with Gregory doing the actual writing of this issue. Overall grade: B

The art: The opening illustration is a full-paged splash and it is killer. I’m not a fan of photos or computer work used for backgrounds, but the combination of the elegant, mysterious fantasy female and the background is nothing short of awesomeness from Allan Otero. The second page is also good with a massive crowd shot looking upon the queen; the characters are solid and the setting strong. The look of fear on the characters’ faces on 3 are really good. The chaos on 4 is fine, though shapes suggest things rather than line work defining them fully. The limbs in the third panel are outstanding. Much better is 6 with the fine line work used on the immediate threats. The visage of the character that ends 7 and begins 8 is excellent. The point of view that ends 8 is dramatic. The first panel on 9 is a great reveal, as is the setting in the second. Violet’s face on 10 is beautifully honest and I like how Otero has switched the characters’ positions in the second and third panels. The tiny menaces continue to not be threatening and I don’t know how Otero could have made them ferocious. They bring the visual experience of the book down. The large image of Calie on 11 is terrific! The action with these characters is fine, but not great. The points of view on 16 are neat, giving the reader exactly what they want to see. The long horizontal panels on 18 and 19 are a great way to show dramatic irony. The reveal of the antagonist’s true form is well done, with the full-paged splash on the final page excellent. Those mini-menaces do bring the grade of the art down. Overall grade: B

The colors: The first page of this issue is absolutely stunning for the artwork and the colors. The beautiful orange background and the blues and white on the mysterious character show that Grostieta is undeniably talented. Page 2 has calming greens for all the foliage shown in Wonderland, which allows the Red Queen and the yellow cheers from the crowd to stand out. There’s a sound that ends the page and it’s transparent, which allows the art to be clearly seen, the sound to still be read, but it also makes the noise sound unnatural since it’s not solid. The dimming of they sky on the third page is a good way the colors foreshadow trouble. The combination of blues and violets on Pages 4 and 5 make the chaos eerie. Got to love the colors on the tentacles, too! The red curtain on 10 pulls the reader to Violet who sits in the center of its drop in a similarly colored plush chair. These reds provide a great backdrop for Calie on 11. Page 14 uses oranges and yellows to strengthen an action scene well. The florescent blues on 16 are a terrific way to shows readers that all is not lost. Florescent violets on the final page show readers that their assumption on 16 may have been incorrect. Overall grade: A

The letters: Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios creates this issue’s text which includes scene settings, narration, dialogue, crowd outbursts, weakened speech, yells, sounds, a unique font for a speaker on the final two pages, and the three word tease for next issue. I’m always pleased to see a letterer use a unique font for narration and Esposito does this. The crowed outbursts, which are both happy and sad, are in the opening scene and they are wonderfully loud. The weak speech appears twice, from two different characters, and the size of the letters tells the reader that the speaker is not at their peak. The yells and sounds are fun to read aloud and are a perfect visual match for the actions they accompany. The last two pages of dialogue look frightful in a scrawl that increases the horror of the speaker uttering them. Overall grade: A 

The final line: The opening scene outshines the fight, which goes as one would expect. The dialogue between the mother and daughter is the highlight of the issue, but there’s not enough to it to punch up the battle. The visuals are fine, though some tiny terrors continue to be blasé to look upon. Still, there’s enough to enjoy, with a good cliffhanger, to make me want to see how this plays out. Overall grade: B+

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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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