Mad With Wonder is the second geo-graphic novel that chronicles Hatter Madigan’s 13-year search for Princess Alyss, who was lost on Earth after escaping through the Pool of Tears. This time around, Madigan’s quest takes him to America during the Civil War and finds the Milliner crossing paths with circus freaks, a group of outlaws, Mr. Van de Skülle, a child gifted with the power of healing, and a vampire as well as being imprisoned in an insane asylum.
The first Hatter M volume was nominated for an Eisner Award and won the 2009 Silver IPPY Award for Best Graphic Novel, so Mad With Wonder had some large shoes to fill. On that note, the graphic novel comes up short in the story department, mainly because nothing really happens. To be clear, stuff does happen in Mad With Wonder — there’s plenty of Milliner action with Madigan rescuing innocents, not to mention the usual twisted humor that can be expected from Frank Beddor, like the escapades that Hatter’s hat finds itself in as well as revisiting the Milliner’s training — but overall the graphic novel leaves the reader hanging, especially in regards to General Jubal Early. This plotline will be explored further in the third Hatter M volume.
As far as the artwork, I love Ben Templesmith’s style but was a bit disappointed with his efforts in the first graphic novel, particularly the coloring. So I had no problem with Frank going with a different artist on Mad With Wonder and felt Sami Makkonen was an inspired choice. I was blown away by his blend of detail, ambiance and surrealism. In short, Mr. Beddor picked a winner with Sami Makkonen whose illustrations instantly improved the visual side of the Hatter M graphic novels.
Overall, because of the story I felt Mad With Wonder was a step down from the first Hatter M geo-graphic novel. Despite this, the graphic novel as a whole is more than worth its cover price because the book is loaded with awesome extras like a preview from the third Hatter M volume, an excerpt from ArchEnemy, card illustrations, and a ton of information that ‘proves’ Wonderland’s existence. Plus, Mad With Wonder is still a blast to read, especially if you’re a fan of Frank Beddor’s The Looking Glass Wars.