Arrow Comics' Wonderland

By | Friday, September 07, 2007 2 comments
Alice has her Wonderland friends gathered in the forest, when they discover none other than Dorothy Gale wandering through. As Alice and her friends search for Chet, the Cheshire Cat, we learn that the Queen of Hearts as been actively beheading nearly everyone in Wonderland and people are beginning to worry about the seemingly real possibility of Wonderland becoming wholly uninhabited. But Alice has marshaled the some of Wonderland's more famous celebrities together as a sort of rebel army, and they meet around the Mad Hatter's tea table to make their plans. Suddenly, a battered and bruised Chet turns up and collapses before them.

And so begins a three issue romp in Wonderland courtesy of the folks at Arrow Comics.

I've always liked Lewis Carroll's original Alice in Wonderland. But what I've found secondarily interesting is seeing how other people take the story and add their own spins and extensions onto it. I'm not terribly keen on getting, for example, another copy of the original book with new illustrations. But an adaptation of the story, even if it's largely derivative, can have some interesting ideas adding to the overall mythos. Wonderland has a number of those gems.

I'm not terribly keen of the attempt to "contemporize" some of the anthropomorphic creatures. The beatnik/hippie amalgam in "Chet", the groovy/smooth-talker in the March Hare... Didn't quite work for me I think, in part, because it seemed a little inconsistent. There's a pretty decent gulf between beatniks and hippies but Chet seemed to bounce between them.

That aside, though, I liked the notion of a Chess Kingdom and a Card Kingdom. Carroll's original, and many others, tend to blur the two considerably. I liked the addition of the Joker and, more significantly, the role he played in the overall story. That worked quite well, I felt. The card soldiers had a good design to them; indeed, I liked most of the character designs. And the Heart Castle being made as a giant house of cards was a nice touch I don't recall having seen previously. The wanted posters on the cover are clever, as well.

The story was pretty well thought-out. Despite a pretty large cast of characters, they were each given a pretty reasonable amount of "screen" time and their presence served at least some role in the story. There were several references to some of Arrow's Oz issues, but there was still sufficient information in this series so that readers won't feel lost if they don't pick up the other books. There was also a lot of nuance, with things often going on in the backgrounds not directly related to the main story, but still providing character information through their actions.

The art, overall, was something of a mixed bag. I liked the character designs, as I said, and the illustrations generally conveyed the story along sufficiently. But the characters often felt rather stiff. With the unusual exception of Dora the Doormouse, the characters in the panels often felt very posed and lacking fluidity.

It was a good series overall, and the end notes at the back of #3 suggest that they might have started breaking even financially on the book if they would have been able to make it to #6. That didn't happen, though, obviously, nor did the one-shot proposed on the same page. That's a shame, because I would've liked to have seen some of the other things that could have been done.

On the plus side, we've still got Slave Labor's current Wonderland book picking up after the Disney movie, Zenescope's contemporary horror sequel Return to Wonderland, Andy Weir's digital comic Cheshire Crossing, and BuyMeToys.com's Oz-Wonderland Chronicles. And, hey, Frank Beddor just released his second book in his Looking Glass Wars trilogy, so maybe he'll be hitting us up with a sequel to Hatter M as well!
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2 comments:

Matt said...

Interesting homage to the classic "Days of Future Past" cover, there.

There's a small note under the artist's signature that says "After Byrne After..." but the second name has been trimmed off.