Friday, September 18, 2009

Trade Waiting - Hatter M Vol 1, The Looking Glass War

Hatter M is a comic book spin-off of The Looking Glass War series of novels, which is a reimagining of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I have not read either the Looking Glass War novels nor any of Carroll's works, though I have seen the Disney movie as a child, so I am approaching the material as an outsider. The folks from Automatic Pictures (the publisher) were kind enough to send us over a review copy of the book. Hit the jump to see what I though of it.

Written by Frank Beddor and Liz Cavalier
Art by Ben Templesmith
Collects Hatter M: The Looking Glass War #1-4

The series stars Hatter Madigan, a royal bodyguard to the Queen of Wonderland who, after the Queen is overthrown by a rebellion, tries to take Princess Alyss, but loses her along the way and both end up separated in our world. The story starts with Madigan's arrival in our world and then goes from there.

The start of the story is the weakest part because it has almost nothing to do with the rest of issues. It kind of introduces Madigan, to a degree, and possibly sets up some future plot lines, but, mostly, nothing any real importance happens. The next three issues, though, improve a lot and tell a pretty decent story.

As already said, the story takes place after Madigan loses Alyss and has no idea where she is and begins his quest to find her. While the first issue was basically pointless, the final three issues do a lot to set up the premise of the series and introduce it's concepts and do a pretty good job of it.

and Cavalier do a good job of working all of that material into the story since Madigan can't find Alyss this early in the series. They also tell the story in a way that the introductory material doesn't interfere with the flow of the story and, for the most part, does a good of job enhancing the story without getting in the way of it.

They also introduce supporting characters and organizations and most have some potential though, due to the short and crowded nature of the story, most don't get any room to really develop, but the potential is there. However, Madigan himself isn't that interesting of character. He doesn't have that much of a personality but he isn't a terrible protagonist either. The story doesn't really focus on him as a character, so his character doesn't bring down the story in that regard, and he does tend to work well with the rest of cast. This is mostly because he is an outsider in our world, so it gives him something to interact with and adds to the story. He is also a large source of information on Wonderland and it's concepts, so he does add to the story in that way. While he may not have much depth, he does help to expand on the concepts in the story and, in the regard, he definitely adds to it rather than detracts.

The art by Ben Templesmith, of Fell fame, is also pretty and probably the best thing about the collection. He does a good job with the material and, because of his style, the fantastic elements don't look out of place with the realistic elements of our world. In that sense, it is very much like JM Kim Niimura's art in I Kill Giants. It has a similar unpolished look though it is a little more refined. This is also the first time I've read anything by Templesmith and, overall, I do like his style even though, at times, his story telling can be a little muddled and makes it hard to follow the story.

Finally, the one thing that the collection excels at is world building, which is something I do approve of and enjoy. In addition of doing a good job of this in the story, there is also extra material, in front and back of the collection, that further build on this. Most of the extra material keeps the same tone which creates a nice consistency among the various materials. Now, I wasn't overly impressed with it, but it was pretty good and does add to the mythos of the series, which is something I both enjoy and appreciate.

Verdict - Check It. The first volume of Hatter M is a nice introduction to the series and does a good of introducing its world to new readers and, although the story is a little on the mundane side, it is still enjoyable and the concepts of the series are intriguing.

Like this review? Curious about Hatter M: The Looking Glass Wars Vol 1? Buy it on and help support the Weekly Crisis.

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The Phoenix King said...

Nice review, mate. I've read both of the Beddor Wonderland novels and they are pretty good, though the debut one (The Looking Glass Wars) is definitely the better of the two. A lot of the stuff in the first issue of this series is actually just an adapatation of a scene from the novel, which kinda sucks, but they do throw in some good easter eggs for the fans. For example, there is a necromantic villian in the comics who eventually appears in the second novel as part of Queen Redd's army of Black Imagination/Legion of Doom, which is a nice touch. Again, good work here.

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