Hatter M: Mad with Wonder
written by Frank Beddor and Liz Cavalier
illustrated by Sami Makkonen
In Volume One of Frank Beddor’s graphic novel adaptation of his Looking Glass Wars trilogy, Hatter Madigan arrived on Earth separated from the one person he was sworn to protect: Alyss Heart, crown princess of Wonderland. His dangerous and sometimes bloody search yielded an important clue: a strange glow emanating from children gifted with White Imagination from Wonderland. Armed with this knowledge, Hatter continues his search for Alyss and will stop at nothing to find her.
Hatter’s travels take him to the American South, which is currently deeply entrenched in a troubling Civil War. He is on the lookout for a traveling miracle carnival that boasts strange healing powers from a mysterious young female prodigy. Hatter, though, is not the only one interested in Sister Sally, and he is soon face-to-face with the last person he thought he would see on earth: the evil Redd Heart. Apparently, she has been using a mirror to command a small army to capture children and their White Imagination. A battle ensues, and while Hatter manages to escape, his enemies are hot on his trail with an extra-deadly weapon from Redd.
With the Civil War still raging, Hatter finds himself entangled in a small battle. His normal warrior astuteness seemingly fails him, and Hatter lies in bitter defeat on the battlefield. When the guard comes through to search for life in the field of motionless bodies, they find Hatter and question his sanity after he mutters over and over something unintelligible about his hat and blades. He is shipped off to an asylum where scientists use questionable methods to save Hatter’s poor lost soul. In a ward full of mad people, perhaps Hatter is not so crazy after all—or is he?
One of the coolest features in both volumes is that Hatter Madigan’s hat seems to have a life of its own. The hat has its own small storyline that shows its power and its effect on others. One way or another, it ends up back in the hands of Hatter, but not before it causes a bit of trouble along the way. In addition, Volume Two contains more flashbacks to the world of Wonderland. This time, readers get to see a young Hatter Madigan during his training in the Millinery. His upbringing and training reveal more of his character, delving deeper into his desire to protect Alyss at any cost.
Sami Makkonen has taken over the art direction in this second volume and, much like Ben Templesmith did in the previous installment, uses muted colors to capture the desperation of Hatter’s journey. He also incorporates an element of Southern nostalgia mixed in with the Civil War scenes, giving the reader a lot to look at. The illustrations convey as much emotion and humor as the written text, with the two flowing together in perfect harmony. Some extras are thrown in as a nice treat for the reader, including a sneak peek at Volume 3 and information about the areas that Hatter has traveled to, and, of course, more concept art. Frank Beddor’s Wonderland continues to come alive in this top-notch series.