This sequel series to Call of Wonderland continues the story of Detective Emma Legrasse and her search for two murder suspects pulled into Wonderland and became the new “Queen of Hearts.” Writer Dan Wickline puts Legrasse right back to work on a gruesome new murder case and a victim marked with a bizarre symbol that Emma recognizes. They also discover Lagrasse’s business card stuffed in one of the thirty-seven knife wounds on the victim who turns out to be a waitress the two detectives encountered the morning before. Gruesome and bizarre indeed.
The majority of the story plays out like a television police procedural with a short introduction of Jacob Hall and a character named Dodgson from Wonderland. Beyond those panels the story felt very pedestrian. I admit I have not been an avid reader of the the majority of the Grimm Fairy Tales universe and it seems as though Madness relies heavily on a readers knowledge of previous story lines to make sense. One thing I wish most publishers would keep in mind, especailly when it comes to a number one issue, is that every comic book is someone’s first. I don’t like heavy handed explanations for what is obviously a sequel but this issue makes me feel as though I need to know absolutely everything prior before moving ahead which is incredibly alienating to potential new readers.
The beginning also felt a little unnecessary. Given the fact you are not going to get a lot of backstory to help understand the characters, Legrasse’s morning routine before work sets a extremely slow pace. I would have liked to see more Wonderland and the threat behind the murders which is really only teased on the final page. The story is not without it merits. I like murder mysteries and this one throws in enough of the bizarre to pique my interest in where this will lead. Legrasse also has a high enough stake in it that she will go above and beyond police procedure which makes her a great main character to root for.
The art by Sebastian Cichon is a negative for me however. It feels rushed and many times the facial expressions don’t match the action and it becomes distracting. It would serve the art, and the story, well with more a little more polish and detail. I would have liked to see how he handled more physical action sequences, of which, I wish the story had more. While most of the faces felt “off” Cichon’s art on a the first few panels in a dream of Emma as a child is spot on. Emma as a little girl is full of life and character which is much of what the adults art lacks. Looking back it doesn’t even seem like the same artist.
Madness of Wonderland is a four-part tale and if you have been reading Grimm’s previous Wonderland story then I’m sure this is a nice beginning. The final reveal in the book teases more literal madness to come and since it is only four issues there is definitely enough here to give it chance.
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