Rating: 4.5/5 – Do We Need Another Fairytale Book With Public-Doman Characters? Yes!
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Al Sparrow.
When The Weirding Willows premiered in Titans A1 anthology monthly, I approached it with some apprehension. The last thing the comics world needs right now, I thought, is yet another mish-mash of public domain characters a la Willingham’s Fables, and the numerous other books, copiers, and hangers-on it has generated in its wake. So I tread cautiously as I made my way through this first collection, and found myself enjoying Dave Elliott’s take on a small patch of earth which serves as the nexus point for a number of magical realms. The artwork is positively stunning, whether it’s the painted style of Barnaby Bagenda or the more traditional heavier inkwork of Sami Basri (in the latter part of the book). Equally compelling was the appearance of characters both familiar and some not seen in a considerable time. When was the last time you sat down with a copy of The Wind in the Willows?
Some of the mainstays are here as well. Alice…yes, that Alice…is the central character, living with but working against her father, Dr. Moreau, as he continues his beast-splicing experiments. Pity poor Alice, who has appeared in numerous books, manga and video games as a grownup looking to find her way back down the rabbit hole. Yet with the advent of television shows like Grimm and Once Upon A Time, it seems we’ve only scratched the surface of her looking glass. (Yes, I went a long way for that one…my apologies!)
Moreau has a patron – a certifiably wicked woman who requests some flying monkeys – and when his colleague Doolittle shows up with a new shipment of animals he’s trapped (he’s the son of the original), the presence of a panther and bear should be an easy clue for any Kipling fan as to when a certain man-cub will show up. Throw in Frankenstein’s monster, Dr. Jekyll, and Peter Rabbit and you have a cast of characters familiar yet given new life by Elliott’s capable scripting.
The main thrust of The Weirding Willows focuses on Alice’s attempts to keep the secrets of the surrounding countryside from her father. The land is a junction of portals to Wonderland, OZ, Neverland, Mars, Pellucidar (Hollow Earth) and Elysium. Did I mention Mars? Yes, a certain four armed Barsoomian makes an appearance in this book, which brought an ear to ear grin to this Burroughs fan’s face. A number of side-plots occur and the second volume is set up beautifully by the events of the first. The only problem now is waiting for that next volume to come out.
Titan continues to impress and astound with their releases. Not only are these collections gorgeous hardcovers with beautiful artwork, solid writing, and plenty of extras and notes thrown in, books like The Weirding Willows beat the odds by giving me what I didn’t think I needed – yet another book about fairy tale characters, but ended up wanting very much. You many not think you need this book, either, but let me assure you, you do.
Reviewed by: Al Sparrow
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