Review - Call of Wonderland #1

In case you haven't noticed, Wonderland is a pretty messed up place. Tea parties hosted by demented hatters, a grinning cat that appears and disappears at will and a queen determined to behead everyone that crosses her. Wonderland is even crazier through the eyes of Zenescope and the upcoming series Call of Wonderland #1 returns readers to the insanity.

Call of Wonderland #1 is written by Dan Wickline, with pencils by Matt Triano and Nacho Arranz, colors by Stephen Downer and Thomas Bonvillain and letters by Jim Campbell.

Let's recap to this point. The Jabberwocky has been defeated, the Queen of Hearts is dead and Wonderland is even more chaotic than earlier imagined. The chaos is struggling for someone to bring order to it and the Red Knight is content with being that savior. He's got an agenda and it requires killing even more people than his body count has already been elevated to.

In the real world, Julie Sands is an aspiring student researching the works of Lovecraft. She's given a strange journal by a brand new librarian (this is Zenescope, so yes, she's hot) that provides unique insights into Lovecraft's life. Part of that insight is a duo named William and Jacob Hall, a pair that have managed to open a door between reality and Wonderland. As inter-dimensional portals go, nothing good comes of the connection and Julie gets caught up in it.

Wickline is working off a script that's the fruit of a collaboration with Raven Gregory, Joe Brusha and Ralph Tedesco. Unfortunately, the issue seems to have had too many cooks in the kitchen. The premise is interesting, but there's not really much at all that happens in the first issue. There's plenty of setup for sure, but the trip to Wonderland doesn't occur just yet.

The bulk of the issue is Julie reading the journal in the library (until she's somewhat rudely evicted from it). There's a Red Knight cameo, bragging about his time and the duo of William and Jacob have their own encounter with Wonderland, but most of the issue is through Lovecraft's eyes via his journal, which ends up being through Julie's perspective as she's reading the journal.

The pencils by Triano and Arranz are pretty good. There's an old feel to them, which cooperates well with the narrative. They get to flex some imagination in illustrating some of the Wonderland creatures and these things are pretty scary looking. Downer and Bonvillain provide the colors, part of a somewhat muted palette. It'll be interesting to see how much detail goes into Wonderland once Julie inevitably makes it there. The shot of the Red Knight is pretty chilling.

Zenescope constantly delves into the literary worlds of fairy tales and Call of Wonderland #1 is no exception. This is purely a setup issue though, which seems a little unfortunate considering it's only a four-issue series. The first issue doesn't need to reveal everything, but setting the issue in a library with brief cameos by Wonderland creatures seems a little anti-climatic.

How the events will unfold between the Red Knight and Julie does bear watching though. It's implied that there will be some bleeding of Wonderland into reality, which could make for an interesting series overall.

Call of Wonderland #1 is in stores May 30.