Thursday, December 15, 2005

Hatter M: The Looking Glass Wars #1

"The Looking Glass Wars." A large part of the history behind Hatter M is published in the UK in a trilogy of books known as the Looking Glass Wars. Millions of readers in the UK are familiar with this storyline, while the Hatter M comic book will be a first glimpse event for Americans. I have a feeling that those who have read the trilogy will have an easier time understanding #1, but don't let that dissuade you from discovering the intriguing world of Hatter Madigan, a very different character from the one described by Lewis Caroll as a Mad Hatter. The Mad Hatter and Hatter M are not the same!

About the authors, Frank Beddor & Liz Cavalier: Beddor is the author and creator of the bestselling trilogy of Look Glass Wars novels. The U.S. novel publisher looks to be Dial Books (an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group). Using the Google search on the right will turn up a ton of other stuff that he's done. I couldn't turn up much on Cavalier's previous accomplishments, so you might try to navigate through the false positives in a Google search.

About the art,
Ben Templesmith: great stuff. I talked about his work when I did a review on Fell #1. Don't get all bent out of shape when you read that review either, because I'm not a Ellis-worshipper like many of the comic commentators are. I like the premise to Fell and the Snowtown tagline, but I don't crave dark like some comic readers do. I digress, here's a link to Ben's website and another to his art site. The art in Hatter M is very similar to Fell, but it seems to have more color and flare in it. And I must add that I really like his work. . .

About the story, Hatter M #1: here's a link to the
image previews, where you can see five pages on the story (more previews available indirectly through the Looking Glass Wars website. Hatter Madigan is a Royal Bodyguard to the Queen of Wonderland, but more specifically, the ranking High Cut of the Wonderland Millinery and protector of Alyss Heart--the next Queen of Wonderland. Alyss became lost in our world when she fled the forces of the Red Queen (who was trying to overthrow Alyss as future queen). As her personal bodyguard, Hatter M is looking at clues and trying to figure out how to find Alyss. And Hatter has lost his trusty hat--which pops out into blades when thrown and boomerangs back to the thrower. The comic starts with a one-page introduction that is designed to explain how Hatter M (the story) interfaces with Alice in Wonderland and the tale created by Lewis Caroll. Not being the slightest bit read (or interested) in Alice in Wonderland and not having the Looking Glass Wars novel trilogy in the U.S. yet, I have no idea what the first page is even talking about! Sorry.

Review and First Impression: I really like some unique and creative concepts in this comic book. For instance, puddles are time/dimension-warp portals. It'll be hard to not look at a puddle and wonder if I could jump in to Paris 1859. Also, the hat looks like a squid. Maybe that's a creation of Templesmith, but the imagery fits well to have the hat expand into squid-like blades and contract back into the hat. I also like how the pace of the story was quick and moving, where each new step is created with action or with Hatter M gravitating towards persons with a glow about them. The comic does a good job of conveying Hatter M's angst at (1) losing his hat and (2) losing Alyss.

While the pace was quick, it felt a little jittery. New action was abrubt and almost random. For instance, you have Hatter M leaving the hat store, then there are two small boxes illustrating some random guy losing the hat (with one box showing a different hand grabbing it), and then the story goes back to Hatter M. Then, about 10 pages later in the story, the hat is presented to the magician, Sacrenoir. All this was so abrubt, that when Sacrenoir received the hat, I was a tad bit confused. Now, how did he get that hat??? Anyway, maybe what I'm saying is that some of the scene changes aren't entirely clear--a problem which could be resolved with stark color changes (understandably hard to do when the entire world is conceived as dark).

Anyway, if I'm not making sense, go take a gander for yourself. As I always say, you have to read the story yourself and form your own conclusions. One of the main reasons for this site is to introduce new #1s, so you can purchase the issue if it seems to be in your category of interests.

RECOMMENDATION: not buy #2. Unfortunately, this story is not in my category of interests. Depending on whether the Looking Glass Wars novels are released for teens or adults, I think I'll at least read the first one to give the story a better shot next time.


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