The first of a series of graphic novels expanding on Frank Beddor's as-yet-unfinished young adult fantasy trilogy, The Looking Glass Wars, Hatter M (Automatic Pictures Publishing) continues the writer's violent re-imagining of Lewis Carroll's beloved Wonderland books. In Beddor's world, young Alyss Heart is the princess of Wonderland, forced to flee to our realm when the evil Red Queen attempts a violent takeover. The once loony Mad Hatter is now a hard-nosed royal bodyguard with a variety of blades at his disposal; his top hat is itself a weapon, though how it specifically works is not clearly explicated in the first volume of the GN series. Using a portal called the pool of tears (puddles of water that appear where none should be), our title hero travels through space — first briefly popping up in 1859 Paris, then Budapest, where most of volume one's action is set — diligently seeking the missing Alyss.
Volume One of the trade collects the first four issues of Beddor's comic book expansion, created in collaboration with writer Liz Cavalier (who I suspect did the bulk of the actual scripting) and artist Ben Templesmith. For those (like me) coming to this world for the first time, it isn't until the third chapter/issue that Hatter M provides the background story of how our grim hero and Alyss were driven out of Wondertropolis and subsequently separated. The first chapter, in particular, is more than a mite confusing as our hero Hatter Madigan pops up in Paris with little explanation as what the heck is going on here. Beset by street thugs, gendarmes, and the walking dead, our hero wreaks havoc in the city - attracting the attentions of a sinister necromancer in the process.
In Budapest, he uncovers a sinister orphanage where young girls are being drained of their imagination by members of a mysterious organization called the Baanskrätar. Aided by an ambitious young lady reporter named Magda Pushiken, Hatter attempts to rescue a girl he believes to be the princess (though we, the readers, know she isn't - else the series would end too soon) from the brain-sucking fiends of Baroness Dvonna's Orphanage for Lost Girls. Observing all this through various glass reflections are two mysterious figures who clearly don't mean our hero good.