Dark Wonderland: Alice Ever After from Boom! Studios

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Alice Ever After #1

In the arena of all things Alice, I consider myself something of, if not an expert (although I've had published one researched book in that subgenre), then at least an experienced connoisseur. And I can be quite judgmental as to whether things strike the right chords for me, or if they miss the mark entirely. I have a number of printings of the books, Dodgson's own published letters, and a selection of interesting spinoffs such as Jeff Noon's Automated Alice and Frank Beddor's The Looking Glass Wars; and I will forever hold fond E. Nelson Bridwell's comic miniseries Captain Carrot and The Oz-Wonderland War.

So when I saw pictures from Boom! Studios' Alice Ever After, I was intrigued. Enough so that it sent me to my local comics shop for the first time in a number of months just because of this book.

The book has been found, held, and read. So now comes the judgment.

Alice Ever After is a sad tale of a grown Alice Lutwidge (Dan Panosian opting to drop the Liddell surname and replace it with Dodgson's middle name). Alice's family is still one whose name carries respect: her father is a well-established dentist (again, not a Dean of Oxford), and his other daughters, Lorina and Edith, are well-behaved and far less trouble than is Alice. It's Alice's trouble that threatens the family's standing, and which is the axis upon which this tale thus far turns.

When we first meet Alice, she is in a shop, browsing items. However, she's not shopping, but lifting, picking items she might exchange to the seedy Morton who gives her her pills. Yes, pills, and, no, he's not a licensed pharmacist. Alice has an addiction problem, and it's getting more and more difficult to hide.

As Alice uses her pills to escape to Wonderland, populated with the panoply of fanciful characters made popular for over a century and a half, her family debates as to what is to be done with her. And when her unsavory associate makes dreadful news, it is decided that Alice should be put away for her mental and physical rehabilitation. But Alice has other plans...

There are two ways of viewing this tale. On the one hand, Alice's friend Earl Proud can be seen as a kind soul who glibly gets Alice out of jams, while her family may be seen as overly stern and conservative. On the other, there's no denying Alice's addiction and one can then view Proud as an enabler while her family is simply putting together a much needed (albeit social-standing motivated) intervention.

So while there's a chamber inside me where Charles Dodgson's words echo that Alice "seems changed a good deal, and not for the better," another part of me is fascinated with where this story is heading, and what role Wonderland will continue to play in it. It certainly helps that Giorgio Spalletta and Fabiana Mascolo have rendered this new Alice adventure exquisitely and with loving detail in every panel. I'm certainly hooked, even if somewhat morbidly so, and will definitely come along for the ride into the next issue. You should too.

5.0 / 5.0