In Review: Revenge of Wonderland #6

The madness is most definitely back in Wonderland and the readers reap the benefits.

The covers: Four regular covers and four exclusive covers close out this series. Sean Chen and Ivan Nunes have created an A cover that would be the perfect topper for a collected version of this miniseries. Violet stands strongly, front and center, in her Wonderland togs, with her mother Calie behind her, also wearing her iconic clothes, looking fearful. Behind them is a large pig, the Duchess, in both her human and monster form, and the horrific Caterpillar. The characters look sensational and the colors are perfect, with the Liddles catching attention because of their stark and bright colors. This is great. The Duchess in her monstrous persona bursts out of a mirror to battle the Liddles on the B cover by Allan Otero and Jorge Cortes. Terrific idea for a cover — wish it had a been a moment in this series! The antagonist is a fright, the protagonists look great as they react to her action, and the broken glass flying everywhere is fantastic. The colors on this make the characters pop, especially with that appropriately colored crimson background. Excellent cover. The C frontpiece by Ruiz Burgos has Calie wearing her Wonderland blues while looking at the reader. She holds an open pocket watch in her right hand, while her left is on her hip. A small white rabbit wearing a vest, shirt, and tie is to her left looking up at her. This is the most innocent white rabbit I’ve seen in any of this series’ history, so just seeing this cute creature unnerves me. Behind the pair is a peaceful green field full of large and small mushrooms. There’s a also a cartoonish breeze behind the Calie, which looks very out of place. A decent cover. You want gross? You get it on the D from Ediano Silva and Hedwin Zaldivar. This has the monster Duchess smiling as she turns the Liddles into faceless children to join her throng. The violet skinned mess is a fat threat in horns. Her tattered clothes, ginormous arms, and fat face make her a fright. Calie and Violet are recognizable even without faces due their clothes, but their heads look like circles, throwing off the reality trying to be created. The colors are great, though, with excellent use of violet for the Duchess and the rising cloud of debris at the bottom. The yellows that serve as a distant destruction are also cool. The four exclusive covers I couldn’t find online: the Subscription Exclusive (limited to 75 copies) by Chen, the Quarterly Exclusive (limited to 250) by Sabine Rich, the VIP Exclusive (limited to 75) by Rich, and the Zenescope Exclusive (limited to 50) by Rich. Good luck with those, collectors! Overall grades: A A, B A, C C+, and D B-

The story: The Duchess, in her true form as an eight foot tall hulk, has Calie and Violet in each of her massive fists. She says, “Don’t try to fight it. Give in and let go. Give in and let it all fall away.” The women are slowly being killed. However, since this is a supernatural killing, the mother and daughter are linked mentally. They picture themselves in a park sitting on swings. Violet says she can’t remember anything but the bad in her life. She’s ready to be done with living. Calie says she should have listened to her daughter before the troubles from this fractured fantasyland returned to their lives. This is a terrific family moment from writer Raven Gregory, with the story conceived by Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, Dave Franchini, and Gregory. The concluding line on page 2 is like a rally cry that only lacked heroic music. Back in Wonderland, the Duchess gets a dual surprise and then the final battle begins. The dialogue from the Liddles is outstanding during the fight and I was so happy to see them working as a team against a common foe. I was expecting the rest of the issue to be an extended drag down battle royale, but my hat’s off to the writers for the surprise on Pages 7 and 8. I love the empathy in one character on 9 and the complete change in one individual that is in line with their character. The sixth panel on 12 is great and the foreshadowing that ends the page goes epic on 13. The two spoken words on that page succinctly sum up the situation and the series for that individual. Epilogue One sums up things well until the twisted turn on 15. I love what’s occurring at the end of 16. The contrasting events on 17 are fantastic. I was appreciative for Epilogue Two showing how the events of the series have effected one of the leads. I wanted these responses and the writers delivered them so smoothly, again it suited the character naturally. The final two pages show that all is still not well in Wonderland with one of the series’ infamous character’s rebirth. The Liddles are far from done with Wonderland. I enjoyed the turn of events, the turn of characters, and the return of a villain. The madness is most definitely back in Wonderland and the readers reap the benefits. A solid conclusion. Overall grade: A

The art: The issue starts with the Duchess so large she can’t be contained in the panel — only her massive meaty hands and grotesque chest is shown. The protagonists have their eyes rolling back into their heads as their faces begin to melt. Look at the panel that immediately follows. It looks like a pane of broken glass, visually representing how the women’s lives are being mentally shattered. Very clever detail form Allan Otero. The park is a wonderfully idyllic setting and the perfect locale for an intimate conversation. The panel that ends the second page has an excellent point of view, with the pair’s shadows representing how strong they’ve become. The realization that starts Page 3 is great and the large panel that follows is outstanding. The antagonist looks amazing on this page. The looks given that end the page will make the reader’s heartbeat increase in anticipation of what’s to come. The action that follows is good, with the focus rightly on the Duchess for her reactions. That third panel is perfection. The fourth through sixth panels on 5 are awesome, the rage at the bottom of 6 excellent, and the transformation on 7 beautiful. The final panel on 9 has a character looking perfectly distraught. There’s a lot of action that happens on 11 and Otero does it all incredibly smoothly. The transformation in the middle panels on 12 is slick. The look given in the final panel on the page clearly telegraphs the next page’s action, but Otero really outdoes himself on 13 with a WOW! illustration. The action conveyed on 15 is good, but the visual that ends 16 is repeated on 17 is killer! And how about that full-paged splash for the final page? That’s how you end a series and keep it going! This book looks great. Overall grade: A

The colors: A pair of colorists worked on this book: Grostieta does Pages 1-3, 5-10, and 16, while Maxflan Arauju does 4, 11-15, and 17-22. The first panel has a lot of violets due to the Duchess consuming much of the background. Look at the cool use of crimsons that create the panels in the following four panels with the broken glass. So good! The park is the stuff of Norman Rockwell paintings with its soothing blues and lighting effects achieved with the colors. Colors are integral to the story with the Liddles’ eyes on Page 3. The Duchess’s eyes are terrific in luminescent violet. Backgrounds go orange and yellow during the fight to increase tension. Blues and whites become powerful magic on 10. The colors used on 16 and 17 for a common action that’s now uncommon are perfection. Glorious greens close out the issue to hallmark a return. Overall grade: A

The letters: The dialogue from the monstrous Duchess, normal dialogue, sounds, yells, narration and a phone conversation (the same font), and the final words of the issue are crafted by Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios. I love the monster Duchess’s speech which is in an unholy scrawl that adds to her visual taint on the page. The sounds make the action resound, with my favorite on Page 13. The narration is given the same font as a phone conversation, differed by the boxes and balloon that contain them and their colors. Both of these forms of communication have been like this in countless books for decades, but I still wish they had been differed in their design, especially on 18. Overall grade: A-

The final line: Mother and daughter work together in confronting the mad Duchess of Wonderland. This issue has the most appropriate and most memorable dialogue I’ve read in a Wonderland comic from Zenescope. The visuals are fun and frightening. I hope to see the Liddles get sucked down the rabbit hole again soon. 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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