Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Wonderland Annual 2009

Story by Dan Wickline and Raven Gregory
Written by Dan Wickline
Art by Dave Hoover
Colors by Gary Henderson
Edited by Jenna Sibel and Raven Gregory
Published by Zenescope

Our story starts with a new family moving into the old Liddle house, which is almost a character itself in the series at this point. The family consists of Eric (the father), Ann (the stepmother), Tracy (the 16 year-old daughter), and Ben-- the youngster with SCIDS, who has to be moved while inside a large clear plastic box. While Tracy is putting things away in the basement, she finds an old diary with the name "Alice" written on the first page. Tracy wants to show her brother the stories inside but Ann takes it away, fearing for Ben's safety because it has to be sterilized. Of course Tracy knows that and states that she's been taking care of Ben longer than Ann. Tracy storms off as she goes to make Ben some lunch. The interesting thing here is that then Ben asks for a Coke, but he isn't supposed to have any soda. A small digression: David Vetter, aka the famous "boy in the bubble" who had the same ailment, always wanted to try Coke, but the sterilization process required to insert it into his bubble ruined the taste.

A few days later Tracy stays home to wait for the plumber to work on the hot water heater in the. Tracy leads Mike the plumber down to the basement, and that's where things get a little heated. Tracy starts to undress and practically attacks the guy. Too bad for Mike, her dad walks in and punches the guy straight in the face-- knocking him to his feet while yelling at him that Tracy is only sixteen. Tracy again storms off and attends to Ben. Meanwhile we see a familiar shape in the blood spatter from the punch: a malicious-looking rabbit.

Obviously with that sort of behavior, Tracy is grounded. Ann goes up to check on Ben and sees that he's been most prolific with his art, drawing horrific scenes featuring creatures like spiders with one eye and blades for legs or snakes made of razors. And of course, he has drawn a dead white rabbit. The parents leave for the night, leaving Tracy in charge of Ben and household. Things get creepier however when Tracy notices a blank page on Ben's wall. "That's the rabbit. He's out looking for something." Sure enough, a few pages before we notice the white rabbit in various places throughout the house. When the parents return, Ann goes to bed while Eric tries to talk to Tracy which doesn't end well because now HE'S seeing the white rabbit. Everywhere. Ann convinces him it's just exhaustion and he joins her in bed.

The next morning, while Tracy and Eric are at the dentist Ann checks on Ben and thanks him for taking the spiders down. As she walks off, Ben says he didn't take them down. Sure enough, Ann gets attacked in the shower by the spider creatures and ends up impaled over the broken shower door. Pretty gory stuff here. Ann's funeral is in a few days and as Tracy and her father come back to the house, they are greeted by Mrs. Moreno who insists on staying outside of the house since she knows the history of the Liddle family and their gruesome history. Too bad Tracy and Eric sort of blow her off.

Eric tends to some of his art but notices the white rabbit in one of his paintings and soon after is attacked by the snakes made of blades and is quickly shredded to death. Tracy runs down to check but finds herself on the run from a man, thin like paper, with a sword. She tries to sneak away but he easily slides underneath doors. Tracy goes to check up on Ben, but that's when we realize the creatures are coming out of his drawings. Tracy runs to the basement, but is followed, however manages to bust a pipe blasting the paper man away. Though a bookcase knocks her down. . . as the room is quickly flooding. Back upstairs the white rabbit finds Ben in his plastic room and sits and waits. Too bad his windows are tightly sealed as well. Nobody can hear him scream.

Obviously despite the "Wonderland" name-- this book, much like several other titles that carry the Zenescope name, is not kid-friendly. I've been a fan of the series for a while, though it's honestly never been one of my monthly pulls. This 46-paged annual plays out like a creepy movie. Dave Hoover's panel structure is strong and not at all bumbling. One complaint though: Ann and Tracy look sort of too similar. Both in body type and facial features. Wickline's script is pretty easy to read and follow. This annual is continuing with the tradition of the "Wonderland" series quite well, and for that reason alone deserves a look-see.

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