This Hatter is not mad. In fact, the Hatter of Frank Beddor’s Wonderland has more in common with a Kurosawa samurai than Lewis Carroll’s deranged, slaphappy tea party host.

The Hatters are a kind of royal guard, and Hatter Madigan is the best. He’s ordered to help Princess Alyss escape during a coup by the queen’s evil sister.

They travel through the Pool of Tears and into our world, but become separated. Alyss arrives in 19th-century England where she tells her story to a writer named Lewis Carroll. It is this story that we follow in The Looking Glass Wars, the first novel in Beddor’s epic trilogy.

Hatter M, released as a graphic novel, is a companion piece to the first novel, telling the royal guard’s side of the story as he hunts for the lost princess through different time periods. The trilogy also includes Seeing Redd and Princess Alyss of Wonderland. But Hatter M works as a stand-alone work as well.

At first glance, Looking Glass Wars resembles the recent spate of reinventions of emerging 20th century myths like “Wicked” that tell “the real story.” However, Beddor uses Caroll’s world as a springboard for his own story, rather than just making a series of cutesy references to the original work.

Beddor’s world is a dark fantasy, a tale of good and evil and a usurped crown filled with action and humor. The artwork by Ben Templesmith (Wormwood, Fell) is nothing short of stunning.

Grade: A

Hatter M: The Looking Glass Wars is currently available.