In Review: Wonderland #38

An intense story is undone by inconsistent art.

The covers: A foursome to find in this month’s installment. The A cover is the one accompanying this review and it’s by Meguro. It’s a bust shot of Callie. She looks beautiful as she places one hand on her arm, as her hair splays out from the wind. However, look at her eyes and you’ll see two tiny mouths. She’s become possessed by the entity that’s being plaguing this series of late: the Terror. Good image with beautiful colors. Andrea Errico and Yelenia Di Napoli are responsible for the B cover and it’s a surprising image of the mute Realm Knight being lead to the guillotine by the Jack of Hearts. I didn’t think that the previous issue’s events warrants her death, but Errico seems to think otherwise. Both characters look good and the coloring is fine, though now that I take another look at the Realm Knight she’s certainly got some big hair going on, doesn’t she? The C by Ted Hammond shows Calie as she looks on Earth. She’s the center of this image with former classmate Drew on her right and the Terror on her left. Behind them is a city under a full moon. I like her, but not them; they don’t seem to be of the same quality as she’s drawn. There’s also a VIP Exclusive drawn by Elias Chatzoudis. I couldn’t find it clearly marked anywhere online, so good luck tracking it down. Overall grades: A B+, B B, and C B-

The story: Since Callie’s on Earth, trying to get a grip on her former life, the Jack of Hearts has had some time to have learned something about the en passant while in the White Queen’s library. He goes to where two knights are working on a gauntlet. He takes the magical device and goes to the cell where the mute Realm Knight is being held prisoner, after seemingly allowing the Terror to escape. He passes her the gauntlet and after placing it on is able to communicate with the man psychically. She reveals she has no idea how the Terror got out and how she believes the entity feels when he feeds on others. “So we’re wrong to blame you?” Jack asks. Surprisingly, the Knight says, “No.” She tells the tale of how she lead the White Queen to the mountains and to the en passant, after learning about it from a red rabbit. This second chapter of “Retribution” has some interesting turns. I like how there was a untold story about the Terror and the Knight, the tale from the Rabbit is very deviant, and Callie’s adventure on Earth has a disturbing twist. I realized things wouldn’t be ending well for one character at the end of Page 9. I liked the inclusion of the other character on 10 and how he interacts with a new character; it’s a nice bit of growth for the character who was suffering a personal meltdown just a few issues ago. I’m finding myself angered by the individual on 12 and 13. I can’t fathom how anyone can combat this character. Pages 14 – 16 were pretty graphic and I thought that was all that character could endure. Lo and behold, writer Erica J. Heflin refuses to let this character get any peace. It’s an impressive piece of writing that makes this character sympathetic on the last page considering what’s occurred. Overall grade: A

The art: This issue is all over the place visually. The first three pages start strongly from Marc Rosete, with Jack, the other character, and the Knight looking very sharp. There’s also some really nicely detailed background work in the very first panel on Page 1. The fifth panel on the same page also has some slick work done for a book’s illustration. The work begins to slip on Page 2 with the two men working on the gauntlet not well drawn, especially in the third panel. However, things improve on Pages 3 and 4 as Jack speaks with the Knight. Rosete gets some really good emotion out of the silent hero, with her emoting really well on these pages. Even her jail cell is well done. The bottom panel on 5 is an excellent establishment shot, with loads of details everywhere. I recognize why there’s an artistic change on 6 and 7, but it doesn’t come off as whimsical or fun; it just looks like a quick and sloppy job. Callie’s introduction on Earth fares a little better, but she sure is rigid as she sits at home. Things vastly improve once she goes to Drew’s place, with him stealing the rest of the book until the final page. That last page has an odd layout that lessens a lot of the drama because readers have to work so hard to see what’s going on. The visuals go up and down. Overall grade: C+

The colors: When the art is well done, the colors by Leonardo Paciarotti look good. This means the opposite applies as well to this scenario. The opening page has some good coloring, with a really nice beam of light falling on Jack in the first panel. The Knight looks really well done, and her hair stands out beautifully. The coloring on 6 and 7 is very elementary, to create a tone, but the art keeps this from occurring. The interiors of Drew’s place are really well done, with red being the dominant color throughout. The last page of the book is difficult to find a focus due to the illustrations and the coloring, with orange being overused. Overall grade: B

The letters: Christy Sawyer provides scene settings, dialogue, rabbit speak, narration, a phone’s records, Cheshire Cat speech, yells, and sounds. It’s a good job, though I wanted the scene settings to be a different font from the dialogue. Overall grade: A-

The final line: An intense story is undone by inconsistent art. I really want the art of this book to be the equal of the story. Overall grade: B

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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