Like a recurring nightmare, the enemies of Wonderland always seek to strike at the very Heart of our imaginations. Following the Boarderland King’s contact with the Heart Crystal, many ask the questions: “What happened to King Arch?”
If we are to peer into the Pool of Tears, and our memories of recent events, we can see the first and perhaps most damaging instance of such a “collision.” While it boggles the imagination as to how Queen Redd might have survived such an experience, what was spawned on the other side of the looking glass was less than surprising considering the Redd’s vicious determination.
So it stands to reason that if we are to search for a sign of Arch, we must look not for a villain calling himself “King of Boarderland & Wonderland”. Instead, we must seek out the fragments of Arch’s foul imagination having taken root in the minds of men.
A mysterious murderer who needs no introduction. The infamous serial killer who haunted Whitechapel exhibits the brutality and misogyny that made King Arch such a foul enemy of Queen Alyss and is considered by many to be the symbolic death of England’s Victorian era.
While we may never truly understand the man and the motive behind “The Ripper,” one can see the glimmer of King Arch’s cruelty and cunning when it comes to terrorizing the vulnerable. But not every aspect of Arch is so blatantly malevolent, some find themselves at odds with the realm they are in and seem to try and bring it down or escape it.
A star of the early days of modern American baseball, Pete Browning was a heavy drinking but talented athlete who carried some strange beliefs, including the idea that baseball bats only contained a limited number of hits in them before they lost their “pow.”
His attitude and skill would give him the moniker of “The Louisville Slugger” years before the title would be branded by the H&B Company. While not the madman that Arch was, Browning clearly was a giant in his field and would be an “Arch”etype for many of baseball’s most colorful players.
The Italian anarchist whose notoriety erupted from his assassination of the French president Carnot to avenge the executions of his fellow anarchists. The bombastic trial of Caserio is punctuated by his bold refusal of plea deals and his proclamations of his anarchist ideas. King Arch’s distrust of “Queendoms” seems to have reached a full boil of distrust of any form of authority and their allies. Perhaps a sign of what King Arch’s continued reign of Wonderland would have looked like, a violent anarchy.
An educated and decorated commander in the American Union Army who would met his brutal end at the Battle of Little Bighorn, or the “Battle of Greasy Grass” as it was known to the Natives who fought against this military man.
King Arch himself could only be this aggressive and merciless in battle, as Custer would even use full military force against the unarmed peoples of the Indian Nations. And like the Boarderland King, his force of personality has echoed through time to blur the line between hero and villain.
A French military officer and spy for Germany, his nation’s enemy at the time. What is most villainous about this possible aspect of Arch’s tale is not just his betrayal of oaths & friends, but the antisemitic scapegoating of Alfred Dreyfus as the individual responsible for Esterhazy’s treason.
Unfortunately, Esterhazy would not face justice and would be quietly dismissed from military service. He would spend his final days in Britain where he would live on his military pension until his death and burial under a false name & date. Like Arch, this one has “gotten away with it.”
Equally hero and villain in his homeland of Australia, Ned Kelly truly embodies the aspect of Arch that made him “king” to the rough-and-tumble peoples of the Boarderlands. A long history of robbery, bush ranging, and eventually the murder of police officials, would come to an end at Kelly’s trial and execution.
Today, Ned Kelly holds the distinct “honor” of being synonymous with rebellion and “Robin Hood” banditry in Australia. However, one needs only to look at the long list of deaths associated with the man to appreciate that one person’s hero can be another’s worst nightmare.
An unusual entry into this list of potential aspects of King Arch, considering this colorful stagecoach robber of the American West was rumored to have never fired a single shot during his robberies. Black Bart was reputed to be a “gentleman bandit” with an air of sophistication, even leaving poetic messages at two robberies for the police.
Following his arrest and serving time in the notorious San Quentin Prison, Charles “Black Bart” Boles disappear into the realm of rumors and tall tales.
Formerly a soldier from “Alice’s” England, William Buckley would be convicted of theft and be sentenced to the Australian penal colonies. When the settlement proved lacking in vital resources such as fresh water and eventually Buckley left to try his own luck.
Buckley’s would be saved by members of the Wathaurong people and he would live amongst them for the next thirty-two years. Buckley would prevent conflict between indigenous and English colonizers, the latter of which would learn who Buckley was, leading to his eventual pardon and return to European society.
It seems that the dark imagination of men like King Arch persists through the Continuum into realms beyond Wonderland, or perhaps the Boarderland tyrant himself persists like an ink stain on a page. Should Arch be half the villain that Queen Redd continues to be, then perhaps the realm of Wonderland should expect a return.
To read more about the Boarderlands, check out The Books of The Looking Glass Wars.
Though we can never be certain of King Arch’s fate, we must stay vigilante should the tyrant ever show his face(s) in the Pool of Tears again.
Marco Arizpe graduated from the University of Southern California and The American Film Institute with degrees in filmmaking and screenwriting. His brand of borderland gothic horror stems from his experiences growing up in a small town where Texas and Mexico meet. Culturally steeped in a rich history of all things terrifying, Marco never fails to bring forward indigenous folklore in contemporary and fresh settings.