Hatter M: The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor with Liz Cavalier and art by Ben Templesmith is a graphic novel based on a series of books with the same name. It is a reversal of the standard Alice in Wonderland. This Alice is a Wonderland princess lost in our mundane world. The characterization of the titular Hatter is spectacular as a royal guard of Wonderland appearing to be the definition of mad in our linear world. However, with his narration as a guide, he is easy to relate to. Additionally, the use of the art style and color in Templesmith's illustrations adds a new depth to the story, particularly to the characters. Beddor takes a familiar story and creates an intriguing and witty reversal.
The role of the hatter is much expanded from the original story. Instead of running a mad tea party this Hatter is Princess Alice's personal guard, trying to find her in a world that is far from the fantastic world he is used to. He replaces Alice as the focus and proves to be a brilliant character. His remarks at times are completely non-sequitur but appropriate in tone. Even his hat is more than a decoration; but instead is a bladed weapon he is well trained in using. It is a thrill to take the adventure with him.
The comic takes care to show visually the difference between those characters with ties to Wonderland and those who are terribly mundane. The hatter is draped in blue tones, colorful, but melancholy. Children who still imagine Wonderland are wrapped in bright colors and fanciful shapes. Adults not trapped by the lackluster of the normal world are colored while the rest are blue-gray, dull and lifeless. Very rarely are hard lines drawn; fuzzy curves dominate the art. Crisp definite boundaries are avoided; making the world feel dreamlike, as if the Hatter cannot accept our world as reality.
Hatter M: The Looking Glass War is a refreshing take on the classical tale. The artistic choices are brilliant and reversing Alice's role makes an interesting variation. Finally, the use of the Hatter as the protagonist caps this lovely comic. I give it a 4 out of 5.
On the wrong side of the Rabbit Hole,
J.R. West the Raccoon