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Comic Review: Hatter M, Volume Two: Mad with Wonder

Hatter Madigan is back for another graphic novel treatment, though this time around Sami Makkonen takes over the artistic duties from the previous graphic artist, Ben Templesmith. Now I'm no expert on art styles, but to me the two looked quite similar, and I doubt I would have known they switched artists had it not been mentioned in the introduction. When it was mentioned, I went back to the first graphic novel to compare, and having the two side-by-side I was indeed able to notice a difference. So I must say that credit is due to Sami Makkonen for doing a great job of capturing the style and atmosphere that Ben Templesmith originally laid out without attempting to be identical.

For those who aren't familiar with the Hatter M comics, let me get you up to speed. Back in 2006 (I think) a book came out called The Looking Glass Wars which tells an alternate version of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. In The Looking Glass Wars, the author, Frank Beddor, claims that there really is a magical place called Wonderland and a princess by the name of Alyss, and that Lewis Carroll's story is a perverse, fictionalized version of the true story that Alyss told Carroll. So The Looking Glass Wars is the true story of Alyss and the attempted takeover of Wonderland by Queen Redd.

In the story, Alyss becomes trapped on Earth, lost to her bodyguard, Hatter Madigan, who spends every waking moment attempting to track her down. And this is where we're at as we begin the second volume of the Hatter M graphic novel, with Hatter Madigan still trying to locate his lost princess. She could be anywhere, anywhere in the world, which might seem like an impossible task, but Hatter M. has "the glow" on his side. Hatter is able to see a strong glowing light wherever there is intensely strong imagination, so wherever he sees this glow, he pursues it. But Princess Alyss isn't the only one to give off the glow...

Hatter's path in this volume finds him befriending a young boy who is picked on by bullies, and teaches the lad how to stand up and defend himself. Then Madigan spies a glow on a newspaper article about a girl in America who heals, so he takes off to America. Because this takes place in the 1864, there's no overnight flight, so he's gotta haul his butt there on a ship. Eventually he makes it, and is soon attacked by some thugs, which lets us get a look at some of his cool weapons such as the blades that flick out of his backpack. This is just a brief glimpse, but we will see much more of his fighting style later on. This is the Civil War era in America after all.

I believe I mentioned in my review of the first volume that this artistic style reminds me of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle books, and this volume still does as well. Even though it's in color and not black and white like the TMNT comics were, it's still very dark and uses a lot of dull colors and gritty lines to present just the right atmosphere. It's a great read, just like the first volume, though once again it feels like it ends too quickly. I want more. And I'd also like to feel as if Madigan is actually making some progress in tracking down Alyss. That is his entire mission, after all, and yet through both volumes it appears as if he's making zero progress.

Along with the graphic novel, there is also an online Looking Glass Wars Card Game (www.CardSoldierWars.com). Here, you take turns with one other player (or the computer) drawing a card and placing it on the board. I must admit that even after reading the instructions I was a bit confused as to exactly what was going on, but after a few games I got the hang of what was going on. Basically, you try to surround the other player's cards with more powerful cards so that you can kill their cards and win. Just play it for yourself and you'll see; it'd be much easier than me trying to explain it in detail. It was kinda fun but I could never collect my reward when I won, which I assume is because I was playing a free trial. I'm guessing that if you pay to play then you get to collect virtual cards or something. Here's the press release statement for the game:

The Looking Glass Wars Online and Offline Collectible Card Game is a unique multiplayer card game that enacts a battle of imagination with an ever-expanding universe of Wondernation character cards, but with a core of the standard 52+4 card "Earth" deck of Jacks, Kings, Queens, Princesses, and numbered card soldiers. Players can "stack" custom decks combining their favorite characters and send them flying into battle, trying to surround and outnumber their opponent’s forces, while connecting to and defending powerful sources of imagination.

As part of the online Card Soldier Wars experience, the online card game is integrated with the rest of Wonderland universe, and utilizes the rich mythology and characters, as well as the spectacular artwork that brings it to life.

I'm currently reading the new Looking Glass Wars book, ArchEnemy: The Looking Glass Wars, so I'll get back to you later about this, but so far it's turning out to be a good read, despite the fact that this is the third book in the series and I completely missed out on the second one.

Hatter M, Volume Two: Mad with Wonder is published by Automatic Pictures and was released on October 15, 2009.

Comic Review: ArchEnemy

ArchEnemy is the third book in The Looking Glass Wars saga, though I was unaware of that fact when I picked it up to read. I had previously read the first book, but had no idea the second one had even come out! Thankfully, I didn't need to know what transpired in the second book to enjoy this one, even though references were made. It's pretty easy to figure out from the context that in the second book, the power of imagination was somehow contained, causing Alyss, Redd, and many other Wonderlanders to lose the ability to use their imagination magic.

With both the previous rulers feeling completely useless without their powers, a new leader emerges to fill the void, some dude named King Arch. He builds an army and starts taking over Wonderland, meeting little resistance. Both Alyss and Redd go underground, hoping that imagination will return and calculating what their next move might be. Redd, along with her entourage of assassins, attempts to form an alliance with King Arch, while Alyss and her loyal followers see if they can try to unite the folks of Wonderland.

And yes, Hatter Mattigan returns and now he has a daughter (I didn't remember this from the first book, if it was mentioned there), who is also a kick-ass warrior like her dad. They both get to travel to our world, as does Alyss, though most of the story takes place in Wonderland. And it is a pretty good story, with lots going on, multiple plots happening at once and all of it easy to follow, leading to a satisfactory conclusion. Definitely check it out if you can.

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