In Review: Wonderland #46

I love this series, but this isn't a strong outing.

The covers: This issue has six different covers to collect for those who are crazed like the denizens of Wonderland. The A cover is by Manuel Preitano. This has Violet cradling a white cat as she makes her way through a back alley that makes her nervous. Behind her, several cats have revealed themselves and all are watching the young girl make her way. A creepy cover, to be sure, with Violet looking her most innocent and those cats looking their most sinister. The coloring of the sky in a vibrant yellow makes all the characters stand out and makes the entire image pop. Then next cover, the B, is by Daniel Leister and Hedwin Zaldivar. This is a monstrous close up of the monstrous Cheshire Cat. He looks insane given the expression on his face and the colors give him an eerie look with all the different shades of violet in his fur. It’s a cartoony cover, which is fine, but this isn’t as frightening as much as it should be. Paul Green does the C cover and it features two beautiful women, the Mad Hatter and someone else, walking from a white background that contains faint images of something unidentifiable. Green knows how to draw attractive women and he succeeds with this cover. Both women are attractive, I just wish I knew who the raven haired woman is. The Emerald City Comic Con Exclusive is limited to 500 copies and is illustrated by Mike Krome and colored by Ula Mos. This cover has Sela Mathers in a tattoo parlor lifting her her tank top up to allow the tattoo artist, a blonde woman who could be Calie, to ink the Zenescope dragon logo right above her tan line. There’s a lot of detail surrounding the characters, so much so that it’s hard to find a focus on this cover. If the image had been pulled in more tightly to the characters this would have been better. The VIP Exclusive cover, limited to 100 copies, is the same image from the same pair of artists, though Sela’s topless on this image. Even a lack of a top has me looking at all the bric-a-brac around them. The final cover is the Emerald City Comic Con Blank Sketch cover which provides an opportunity for a fan’s favorite artist to create an original illustration. Nice, but not for me. Overall grades: A A-, B C+, C A+, Emerald City Comic Con Exclusive B-, VIP Exclusive B-, and Emerald City Comic Con Blank Sketch C

The story: “The Kilkenny Cats” by Erica J. Heflin opens with Calie Liddle driving at night, with Violet asleep next to her, and the Cheshire Cat looking out the window like any normal animal would. She thinks about all that’s happened to Violet on their journeys and how her own connection to Wonderland seems to be fading with each day. So focused is she on this lessening that she doesn’t pay attention to the road and almost collides with another vehicle. They take the next exit and arrive in a normal looking suburban area, yet there’s no one around. They make their way to a hotel, unaware of all the cats on the side of the road watching them pass. Once out at the hotel Violet is overcome by a pungent smell. “Feline,” answers Cheshire. The reception office is just as empty as the rest of the town. Calie pushes a door open to a room, and it’s also vacant. A flick of the lights reveals that other individuals have been in the room making it smell the same as the exterior. Things quickly change when Violet pulls the curtains back. There are some fairly good creepy moments in this story. Cats have always been a source of thrills in stories, thank you Mr. Poe and Mr. Lovecraft, and they’re just as evil as this. Not only do the heroes have to overcome the kitty killers, but the individual that’s responsible for turning them into a murderous glaring. This true foe is the perfect opposite of one of the heroes and creates some excellent psychological tension within this character. As interesting as this starts, the outcome is never really in doubt and nothing is gained from the experience except one character gets to kill. Overall grade: B- 

The art: The visuals on this book are again very sketchy. Dimat is credited with illustrating the book and it’s not great. The first four panels on the first page are fine, but what the heck is going on in that fifth panel? Is the water spiraling down a drain? Is it spilling over the side of the pool? If I can’t tell, then the text in that panel has no impact. The panel that follows is a great close up of Calie’s eyes, but it’s followed by a sloppy image of a car’s headlights. The first panel on Page 3 has too much wasted space on the sky; the focus should have been the houses and it’s not. The final panel on the same page has no reference point from which the reader can identify. Is it a car, or truck, or tractor’s wheel? Given the rural surroundings and all the cats, an argument could be made that our heroes have left the city and made their way into the country. When characters are shown from about ten feet away from the reader, or further, facial features disappear or become cartoony. This holds true for the all the cats, with their colors defining them more so than the illustrations. Things really fall apart in the book’s final setting, with the trap on 13 being really sketchy. Dimat also has layout issues, with 15 being an odd construction. I really had to think about what’s occurring at the bottom of the page to understand what was being shown. The book makes up considerable ground by having the antagonist transform into her true shape which looks amazing. The final panel on 19 is a computerized blur, done to show the speed one character is moving, but it could also have been used to hide the visuals. A better artist would have made this a better book. Overall grade: D

The colors: Salvaging what he can of the visuals, Leonardo Paciarotti does a decent job. The first two panels use violets for the background colors, placing some good emphasis on the namesake that Calie is thinking about. Paciarotti does a good job on the car’s lights on the second and third page, and does the same wonderful glowing effect on the Cheshire Cat’s eyes. Cheshire’s purple stripes separate him for all the other felines in a panel and when he swings into action the color red accompanies him. When the sun comes out the background begins a warm yellow, which then becomes a sickly color when the heroic trio makes their way to the final setting. It’s in this setting that Paciarotti completes several panels by using colors to finish a background that hasn’t been done by Dimat. I was impressed with what this colorist did to salvage the art. Overall grade: B 

The letters: Christy Sawyer contributes narration, sounds, dialogue, Cheshire speak, and yells. Sawyer gets major extra credit for differentiating dialogue from narration, and the unique font used for Cheshire makes his every word look threatening. The sounds also look great with the final page’s SLTCHH being perfection. Overall grade: A

The final line: I love this series, but this isn’t a strong outing. I’ll definitely be back next month, but my fingers are crossed for a better illustrator. Overall grade: C+

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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