Review - Wonderland: Birth of Madness (@Zenescope)

"There dwelled a land where peace ruled...and dreams became reality."

Based on its name, Wonderland implies that things are cheerful, happy and full of wonder. While that may be the case most days, there are other days when things aren't so nice. Wonderland: Birth of Madness from Zenescope is one of those days. The issue is written by Dave Franchini, illustrated by Renzo Rodriguez, colored by Leonardo Paciarotti and lettered by Kurt Hathaway.

Before Alice, before the madness, there was a peaceful realm of dreams called Wonderland. This is the story of corruption, the birth of madness, how the realm of dreams became the realm of nightmares.

What starts as a rather idyllic look at Wonderland quickly goes off the rails in Franchini's script. His approach focuses on Evelyn and Adelaide, one of whom because seemingly corrupted by an ancient darkness in Wonderland that tears the world in half. Franchini paces the world's decline very methodically, slowly building up to the complete chaos that comes with death and destruction. There's a steady back-and-forth that exists between the characters speaking with one another and an omniscient narrator of sorts that helps move the story along. And by the end of the issue things are sufficiently deranged enough that the reader can see how Wonderland got to its current state and is a nice homage to fans of the series.

Rodriguez handles the art duties on the book and his work is pretty slick. Wonderland itself is illustrated with an attention to its happier days where people are generally jovial and look the part as well. Thick lines define the characters and landscapes, allowing Rodriguez to pay particular attention to the garb of those in Wonderland. The gutters transition from black to empty to none as Rodriguez transitions throughout the various scenery, drawing the reader's focus from one point to the next. The colors by Paciarotti are vibrant and do a great job of showcasing the gradual decay of Wonderland as it descends into madness.

Wonderland: Birth of Madness doesn't really require an in-depth knowledge of the Wonderland universe as it instead focuses on where things started. Evelyn and Adeline are two sisters torn apart by the temptation of power and Wonderland suffers as a result. Franchini's script is cleanly presented and effectively covers all the events leading to the world's downfall. The artwork by Rodriguez has a sheen to it that makes the events in Wonderland feel bold. Wonderland: Birth of Madness doesn't really tread new ground as far as books that share in its universe do, but is nice to see the Hatter actually become "mad."

Wonderland: Birth of Madness is available now.