"Beyond Wonderland" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Zenescope Entertainment
Written by Raven Gregory
Illustrated by Daniel Leister
2010, 160 Pages
Trade Paperback released on September 8th, 2010
Callie Little thought she had escaped the clutches of Wonderland, but the alternate world that feeds on the insanity in ours doesn't give up that easily. And now that Callie's pregnant, she's got to be doubly careful. Her brother Johnny has grown to accept his place on the other side as the new Mad Hatter and he's looking for a little family reunion. Author Raven Gregory created this twisted world in Return to Wonderland and has expanded on it greatly here in the second part of the trilogy, Beyond Wonderland.
Like any great sequel, Beyond Wonderland loads us up on information. We were introduced to Alice's children, Callie and Johnny, in the previous book, but here we get a bit more of their back story and why they are who they are. Johnny was troubled since childhood and it was only when Wonderland started creeping into his life that he really let his freak flag fly. Callie had always been a carefree kid, but she's learned a great deal about responsibility after escaping from the clutches of the Jabberwocky.
It goes without saying, but this is certainly not a Disney take on the classic tale from Lewis Carroll. The original Mad Hatter is a demented rapist. The Chesire Cat is a hulking beast with razor sharp claws. This is some creepy shit. Yes, there are loads of cheesecake shots of Callie and even her mother Alice as they bounce through the comic in skimpy outfits, but Beyond Wonderland is not just about hot chicks. The story propels this book to so much more. The way that Gregory weaves this plot is impressive. You delve into the mind of Callie and at times have to question what is real, all the while facing truly gruesome battles.
Daniel Leister gets to expand quite a bit from the creatures that were seen in the first volume. The Chesire Cat is easily one of the scariest monsters I've seen in comics. Johnny brings it with him to our world where it poses as a mangy black cat which can quickly transform to the massive purple beast when necessary. Some of the characters end up with odd expressions on their faces throughout the book though, like they're not reacting to what's going on correctly. This is mostly on the women which makes me think some of the panels are more for the pose of the beautiful woman than the action.
Beyond Wonderland is part two of the Wonderland Trilogy. It picks up on everything that Return to Wonderland started with, expands on it and then leads right up to where we need to be for the finale, Escape from Wonderland. Instead of just re-telling Lewis Carroll's story, Raven Gregory has modernized it and taken it to a whole new level.
As a bonus, Zenescope will be releasing the first issue of Alice, the prequel to the Wonderland Trilogy this Wednesday, January 25th.