Hatter re-energized and refocused, certain that Princess Heart is alive and in need of him, Hatter regains himself, as it were, and we see his awesome martial ability in a glorious action-escape set-piece. He summons his extraordinary hat back to him and fights through an army of orderlies and guards, dishing out a bloody revenge to those who have imprisoned him.
Again, setting out in search of Princess Heart, Hatter sails to the Far East. He ends up in a battle against CHING SHIH, female commander of the Red Flag Fleet—a pirate armada and the terror of the Asian Pacific. Valuing Hatter’s skills, Ching suggests an alliance. But what starts as a practical partnership between Hatter and Ching quickly blooms into romance grounded in a shared background of loss (past loves).
Hatter’s hunt for Alice is further diverted when he hears rumors of another Milliner on Earth—one who turns out to be his older brother, DALTON MADIGAN, whom he thought had died more than a decade ago.
The brothers’ emotional reunion at first bolsters Hatter’s hope for finding Princess Heart, but Dalton’s loyalties are soon questionable; he’s suspiciously interested to learn that Redd is Wonderland’s monarch. (Dalton has always loved Redd, and his unwitting participation in the murder of her mother Queen Theodora spurred him to jump into The Pool of Tears to avoid disgrace.)
The Madigan brothers’ complex Cain-and-Abel relationship will play out over the course of the LGW’s first season, but soon after reuniting, they come across a fantastical tome entitled Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Determining that its author Lewis Carroll must be in contact with Alyss Heart, Hatter and Dalton head to Oxford, England, where…
Alice is more than petticoats deep in the complexities of Victorian courtship, budding love, and palace intrigue. Still in faltering denial of all things Wonderland, she presses on with her goal of founding an orphanage, desperate to protect children from hard labor, starvation, and violence. Her noble, though decidedly unladylike actions, have thoroughly drawn in the hearts of both Prince Leopold and REGINALD HARGREAVES, a gentleman suitor first met at the party that introduced Alice to society. Throughout the season, we’ll explore a love triangle between Alice, Leopold, and Hargreaves, but it’s with Prince Leopold that most of the drama lies.
Alice’s growing reputation for fighting against child labor, the prince’s love—these earn her the smoldering ire of QUEEN VICTORIA. How can the queen’s youngest son be enamored of a plainly dressed commoner? A commoner, no less, whose efforts to improve the welfare of the country’s most vulnerable population conflict with certain arrangements of hers with gang-leader Jesus Jones?
Jesus and his men—our version of the Peaky Blinders–have been, with the palace’s tacit approval, snatching children off the street to sweat tirelessly in workhouses, providing a cheap labor force to support the aristocracy that Victoria strives politically to maintain.
No way Victoria will tolerate the upstart Alice Liddell. Behind Prince Leopold’s back, she schemes to tear the young couple apart.
One scheme involves recruiting Jones’ gang to do away with Miss Liddell. The job falls to QUIGLY, but he has good reason not to murder the charitable Alice; he had been the very first person she met after crossing over into our realm, her best friend on Earth for a time. As Queen Victoria works to undermine Alice, we’ll chart Quigly’s arc from nefarious gangbanger to one of Alice’s most vital comrades, defying the ruthless queen at the price of his own safety.
But what of The Cat, Redd’s emissary of death? He’s been closing in on the princess all this while—murdering his way to her, so to speak, and assuming the forms of his victims. Independent of Redd for the first time, he’s rather enjoying his decadent lives as various notables of the aristocracy, which accounts for his not yet having fulfilled his duty to Redd, though he remains an ever-present threat to Alice. And he will fulfill his duty…perhaps after the next soiree.
Arriving in Oxford, Hatter and Dalton Madigan make an unnerving impression on Lewis Carroll, through whom they find their way to Alice Liddell. Hatter’s appearance is, to say the least, a major shock to Alice—undeniable evidence that her so-called visions are indeed something more. Yet she rejects Hatter’s insistence that she must return to Wonderland to fight for the throne and rescue the realm from the tyranny of Redd and Dark Imagination.
“But Queen Genevieve, your mother…” Hatter tries, relating the deceased queen’s belief that Alyss, once of age, would be Wonderland’s only hope.
“My mother, a queen?” Alice scoffs, more troubled than angry because the designation sounds right.
Rejected, Hatter and his brother revisit Lewis Carroll. The author explains how thoroughly shed of her true identity Alice has been—and how he, regrettably, is largely to blame. Hatter and Carroll: two men Alice once trusted who, despite their best intentions, failed her.
Dalton offers to keep watch on the princess, and though Hatter’s none too trusting, he travels to Wonderland through a puddle where no puddle should be. He knows that if he can’t convince Princess Alyss to return, there is Wonderlander who, if still alive, might be able to: the best friend and innocent love of her earliest years, DODGE ANDERS.
Earth’s blight and troubles are mere echoes of Wonderland under Redd. Dark Imagination has cast a pall. The populace is beaten down, paranoid, hunkering into themselves to draw as little of the authorities’ notice as possible. Only a small group resists the tyranny—the Alyssians, a rebel group named in honor of Princess Heart, believed to have been killed by The Cat the night of Redd’s coup.
Twenty-three-year-old Dodge Anders, the son of a former guard at Queen Genevieve’s Heart Palace: as a boy, he had spent countless hours with Princess Alyss, and he’d been at her birthday celebration when Redd and her mercenaries burst in and started killing everyone. He witnessed The Cat’s murder of his father, and the four parallel scars on his own cheek (courtesy of The Cat) now serve as constant goad in his rebellion against Redd and her forces. Dodge is a leading member of the Alyssians. Impulsive, daring—suicidally brave, some might say—he’s largely responsible for the Alyssians’ success over the past thirteen years, helping them avoid detection while conducting surgical strikes against her soldiers.
But Dodge is no longer convinced of Princes Alyss’s death. He’s heard rumors that Redd, unable to see the dead princess in her imagination’s eye (a sixth sense), sent The Cat into The Pool of Tears after her. And while it’s true that Redd had made a show of parading around with the princess’s head, she hadn’t gloated as much as was her custom. As if maybe, she didn’t want anyone to notice that the head had been conjured from her own imagination.
Hatter’s surprise emergence from The Pool of Tears, his news of Princess Alyss—these give fresh confidence to Dodge and the Alyssians. Though Dodge has retained every tender feeling he’s ever had for Alyss, he’s too hardened by circumstance, and too concerned with all that’s at stake, to dwell on them.
To be continued…
Read Part One: The Looking Glass Wars, Season One: Part I
For More on the World of the Looking Glass Wars:
Part One: Wonderland’s Imagination Empowers
Part Two: Wonderland Beginnings
Part Three: Roadmap To Phantasia