All good things come to an end, but it doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it. Wonderland goes out with a bang in its traditional gory mess, but will anyone survive the conclusion?
Previously In Wonderland: Calie and Violet Liddle have finally escaped the horrors of Wonderland… or so they think. As they begin to rebuild their lives, so too does the madness at the core of Wonderland rebuild the Realm of Dreams. The final conflict between the Liddles and the land beyond the Looking Glass approaches as Wonderland draws to a close.
Don’t take away my Wonderland!
I will have to admit right now, Zenescope is my guilty pleasure. I say that as if it is a bad thing, but whenever I talk to people about Zenescope all they say is ‘so you like THAT sort of comic.’ Then I have to go into a long discussion about the merits of the deep and engrossing story that weaves between all the different books; how it is one of the most complex, yet consistent comic universes around; and how many of the stories are really clever re-interpretations of age old myths and legends that are in fact much closer to the original story than the kiddie friendly versions we all tell our children.
By that point even I start to wonder if the phrase ‘no smoke without fire’ applies to just how hard I am trying to justify a book, which for a lot of its run has tended to involve a copious amounts of prettily drawn, scantily dressed women. I tend not to help my case when I point out that this really isn’t in the same territory as Tarot Witch of the Black Rose, or even Lady Death or Dynamite’s more recent Dejah Thoris series, but really that tends to harm my case simply knowing about those books…
Is anyone still reading at this point?
Joking aside, don’t judge a book by its cover. Most Zenescope books tend to have a buxom half dressed woman on the front, normally being tormented or chased by innumerable monsters; and this issue is no different. But if we believed every comic cover then Wolverine and Spiderman were in every single issue Marvel produced from about 1995 to 2005. However, save for a very few issues (mostly 5+ year ago) the interiors of the comics are nudity free and no one is dressed any more inappropriately than your traditional Marvel or DC heroine.
Let’s be frank, sex sells, and if pretty women on covers sell issues, who am I to object. Ironically according to Zenescope (and I have no reason to doubt them on this) it has a far higher than average female readership compared to most of the large comic publishers, supposedly because their comics have strong female role models in them (which they do as all the books are lead by women and most of the antagonists are female as well.)
I have done a thoroughly bad job of selling Wonderland to everyone, and I apologise for that. Bu t then again in some ways I have liked it being my little secret, the comic which no one else picks up because they thought it was a ‘naughty’ book. Well I am old enough to make my own choices of which comics I read and I have my own Ipad which my wife doesn’t have the pin code to so I can read them in peace.
Going out with a bang AND a whimper
This is one of the hardest books I have ever had to write about because all I want to say are the good things from the series, rather than talk about this issue itself. If I am being honest, I find the art to be average compared to most of the previous issues, the general storyline underwhelming and the ending is just a cheat.
But then I think about the source material. Alice in Wonderland ends with Alice simply waking up from a dream, only to be sucked back in again in the next book. This entire series has been a never ending nightmare for Callie and Violet (not to mention a terminal nightmare for Alice herself) and really the only way to ‘beat’ a nightmare is to wake up.
This book had two ways to end itself. It could either go out with a gore splattered pinnacle of horror, leaving none of the main cast alive as the madness of Wonderland takes them all permanently. Or they could have gone with a more metaphorical ending, trying to explain the madness and perhaps beat it at its own game. In the end they seem to have chosen a middle ground, giving us the blood and gore, but without the ultimate pay off.
In some ways this was the ‘business executives’ ending. No one in the marketing department of Zenescope wanted to kill off all the characters in the Wonderland series that would be like depowering all the Mutants in the X-Men franchise… Eventually someone has to undo what has already been done in order to re-launch the series. Sure this is the end of Wonderland, but unless Zenescope is shutting down and I missed the memo, I am certain they want to revisit Wonderland again in the near future.
For an ending to a long running series, it’s left me a little disappointed. For a comic on its own, it is absolutely fine. But when you are talking about a series finale, especially one that has run as long as this, you want the best that series has to offer all in one issue and unfortunately this fell short.