Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Dan Panosian
Artwork: Giorgio Spalletta, Dan Panosian
Colours: Fabiana Mascolo
Lettering: Jeff Eckleberry
Release Date: 18th May 2022
In the latest instalment of BOOM! Studios’ Alice Ever After, series writer Dan Panosian takes us further down the twisted rabbit hole as our leading lady checks herself into the Sacred Heart asylum. Here she finds a whole new world of darkness and thinly veiled threat, along with what may be some familiar faces from her childhood?
I thoroughly enjoyed the first issue of this series, and I’m glad to see the second chapter fully embracing the dark, unsettling tone. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the opening sequence (which you can feast your eyes on below), where Alice’s elated celebration in Wonderland gradually gives way to the cruel reality of her situation. The contrast between Panosian’s flowery, picturebook artwork and Giorgio Spalletta’s stark, sterile approach really helps to sell this transition, and while we don’t return to “Wonderland” for the remainder of the issue, the impact of this moment lingers throughout.
Theodore and Thomas, the hulking orderlies who prowl the halls of the asylum, are a genuinely menacing force here, a significant departure from their Tweedledum and Tweedledee literary inspirations. The opening sequence where the pair are dancing with the lifeless, drugged-out Alice really speaks to the shrouded darkness of this series, and their presence throughout this issue can never be missed, up to and including the tense splash page of a cliffhanger.
Panosian ramps up the pace just a little here, adding plenty of tantalising Wonderland allusions to Alice’s fellow inhabitants at the Asylum, and while it’s clear the poor girl is simultaneously trying to escape one part of her childhood while running towards another, we’re still shielded from the bleak reality of just what happened to her – for the time being, at least.
Spalletta’s artwork, which carries the bulk of the issue, is sharp and expressive; slightly caricatured in places, but still grounded enough for the story to resonate fully. The intentionally washed-out colour palette of Fabiana Mascalo really helps to underscore the bleak mood during the asylum sequences, before subtly shifting to reds and oranges as Alice visits the office of Mistress Hulda, the Headmistress who bears more than a passing resemblance to a certain Wonderland monarch.
Another strong issue for this thoroughly intriguing series then, and with the mystery at its heart still tightly under wraps for the time being, it’s the overall fascination – not to mention the strong reader investment in the sweet, optimistic but clearly broken Alice – that’s keeping the pages turning for the time being. Definitely one to add to your pull list if it isn’t there already.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]