Written by Tommy Kovac
Art by Sonny Liew
24 pages, color
Published by Slave Labor Graphics
Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are two novels that have spawned so many adaptations, unofficial sequels, and works inspired by Carroll’s creations that I don’t think I could even begin to count them all. With such a large number available, it’s easy to be picky about which ones to seek out and avoid. In the case of Tommy Kovac and Sonny Liew’s Wonderland, though, I think it’s well worth your time.
Just because Alice has left Wonderland doesn’t mean that things are back to normal (if such a thing even exists). The Queen of Hearts is still angry at anyone and everyone associated with Alice, and when the Queen of Hearts get mad, heads will literally roll. When Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum attempt to save their own lives by pointing her in the direction of the White Rabbit, what seems like a simple execution will be anything but when the White Rabbit’s maid Mary Ann stirs things up. Who knows, maybe this really is a normal day in Wonderland.
Kovac’s story in Wonderland isn’t a sequel to Carroll’s novels, but rather to the Disney animated movie. This works well to Kovac’s advantage, giving him a setup and character base that people are familiar with while not having to worry about the difference between pop-culture Wonderland and what Carroll originally wrote. (For example, while most associate Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland they’re actually characters from the quite-different Through the Looking Glass. In Disney’s movie, they’re all there together.) The story itself is really promising, taking the logical jump that if the White Rabbit would confuse Alice for his maid Mary Ann that the two must look somewhat similar. She’s clearly the main character of Wonderland and the hints about Mary Ann’s real nature seems like a good addition to the lore of Wonderland and fits in easily. My biggest complaint with Wonderland‘s story is that I wished it was longer; at just 24 pages we’re starting to really get rolling when things end. Any first issue that makes me think, “I wish we’d gotten more pages” is definitely doing something right.
Liew’s art, as always, is lovely. His work on Malinky Robot and My Faith in Frankie was thoroughly attractive, and Wonderland is no exception. The art is directly colored off his pencils, and the end result is an expressive, free-flowing look. The early two-page spread of Alice traveling across a twisting, magical short-cut through Wonderland was the moment where I knew that Liew was a perfect choice for Wonderland; he’s able to bring Kovac’s imaginative ideas to life, making them simultaneously odd and natural. Liew’s style is also perfect for using the Disney character designs in comics. The Cheshire Cat’s grin is a disturbing combination of friendly and untrustworthy, and seeing the Queen of Hearts made me feel like I was a little kid watching the movie all over again.
Of Slave Labor’s four comics based off of Disney properties, Wonderland is easily my favorite. It’s just fun to read, and Kovac and Liew not only remind the reader how good the original property was, but prove that licensed comics can be really good. I’m definitely sticking around for the second issue.