The Looking Glass Wards, Volume One
Author/Artist: Frank Beddor/Ben Templesmith
Publisher: Automatic Pictures Publishing
American release date: October 16, 2008
Format/Genre/Length: Graphic Novel/Young Adult/176 pages
Publisher/Industry Age Rating: Teen
Overall Personal Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Similar series or titles to check out: Alice in the Country of Hearts
Hatter Madigan is the Royal Bodyguard for Queen Genevieve. When the kingdom of Wonderland is attacked by forces under the control of the queen’s vile sister, Hatter wishes to take both Genevieve and her daughter Alyss and flee, but the queen will not have that. She begs him to take Alyss to safety, and there to keep her from harm until it is safe for her to return. Against his better judgment, Hatter does just that. Unfortunately, he didn’t expect to be separated from Alyss, nor to begin a 13 year quest to find her.
The saga begins in 1859 Paris, as Hatter emerges from a puddle. There is no sign of Alyss, and he draws the attention of the local constabulary. But the gendarmerie are no match for the blades which he sprouts from his back, and they are quickly dispatched. But oh dear, he seems to have been separated from his hat.
He discovers a millinery shop, where he hopes to re-arm, and perhaps gain some news from his homeland, but the man behind the counter has no missives, alas, from Wonderland. However, he will be happy to apprise Hatter should one arrive. An unfortunate altercation with some other gentlemen results in Hatter’s apprehension; he is rolled into a rug, and taken to the Palais Justice. He makes a most spectacular departure from the courtroom and earns himself some new admirers.
In the meantime, the hat has come into the possession of a most unusual magician, who sees that it is not an ordinary chapeau; he decides to use it in his performance.
A leap into another puddle, taking a chance, brings Hatter to Budapest. He hears a strange tale of a child found wandering lost in a Russian barley field and hastens to find her! He enters a theater; upon the stage a violin virtuoso performs and in the audience is one Baroness Dvonna. Before he can reach the child, she is taken by gypsies and the chase is on!
Will he be able to get to her in time? Is she the Alyss which he seeks? And what in the world is going on at Baroness Dvonna’s orphanage for girls? How and why are they being drained of their imaginations?
Alice in Wonderland with a decided twist, the Looking Glass Wars is off to a great start with this first volume. It caught my attention immediately with the character of Hatter Madigan. It seems as though in any recent riff on the original theme, the Hatter ends up being the most interesting character. This variation is no exception.
This version, though, is a brilliantly drawn and written graphic novel. The colors that the artist used will leap at you from the pages, the lines are so definitive and yet so artistically done. Sometimes the details are very finely drawn, while at other times, the artist employs a broad brush, sweeping the page with emotion.
The Hatter is determined to find Alyss, no matter where she is; his determination is most evident. He’s a strong character, well-drawn. I followed him with a great deal of interest. He’s also human, as evidenced by the fact that he has lost his charge. But he intends to make up for that. And he keeps getting separated from his hat. There is quite an interesting symbiotic relationship there. The notes in the back of the book are worth reading for the details of that alone.
If you are a fan of Alice in Wonderland, you don’t want to miss this newest take-off on a familiar theme. Even if you are not, there is a lot to commend this story, from the writing to the artwork. I look forward to reading the next volume.