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Comic Review: Hatter M, Volume 4: Zen Of Wonder
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Hatter M, Volume 4: Zen of WonderHatter M, Volume 4
Zen of Wonder
Written by Frank Beddor and Liz Cavalier
Illustrated by Sami Makkonen
Lettered by Tom B. Long
Cover by Vincent Proce
Automatic Pictures Publishing
Release Date: May 21, 2013
Cover Price: $14.95

Hatter M, Volume 4: Zen of Wonder is the latest book in the Hatter M series from Automatic Pictures Publishing. Continuing the saga of Hatter Madigan in his journey through our world in the 19th Century, Frank Beddor, Liz Cavalier and Sami Makkonen manage a feat with this new installment that I had not thought possible: they made me enjoy Madigan’s tale.

It is 1870 and Hatter Madigan has been in our world searching for the lost Alyss””the rightful heir to the throne of Wonderland””for over ten years. Distraught over the fact that he has been unable to find the girl he was sworn to protect, Madigan’s luck is finally about to change. When he meets a mysterious young girl named Nekko who begins to teach him the art of Zen””being content and gaining enlightened understanding””Madigan is led on an expedition that begins with a quest to acquire a Samurai sword with sentimental meaning. This new voyage takes them from San Francisco to the Hawaiian Islands and finally to Japan where Nekko continues her guidance of Madigan. A notion that could be the key to helping him find Alyss becomes increasingly clear to him: “when you seek, you cannot find.” But it won’t all come easily, as Hatter Madigan must fight samurais, best fire breathing chicken demons and elude ghosts from his past if he is ever to reach a Zen-like state.

I will be completely honest and say that I did not enjoy the first three volumes of Hatter M, though each one was a bit better than the first. I found the writing too fast and terribly paced; however, Beddor and Cavalier must have been practicing the art of Zen while writing this one, as Hatter M, Volume 4 fits together beautifully. The flow is excellent and perfectly timed. The story was different””crisp””yet also a natural progression from its predecessors.

I’ve enjoyed Makkonen’s art since he took over illustration duties in volume two. His drawings are weird, creepy and at the same time, oddly alluring. The panels feel effortless yet detailed. The work is sketchy, yet inked purposefully. It is dark, grand and whimsical. Makkonen is able to depict the very peculiar nature of the story through equally strange character portrayals.

Before the story begins, there is a note from the Hatter M Institute””the “real” organization that is researching the “true” events of Madigan and Alyss’ time in our world. At the end of the note, it states, “Read this book for the experience. Do not attempt to understand.” What’s interesting to me is that I finally understood this story. It was clear, concise and interesting, yet perhaps that was not Beddor’s or Cavalier’s intention. Either way, regardless of if you enjoyed the other three volumes in the Hatter M series or not, I would definitely recommend this one.

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