Kevin Lewis and G.O. Parsons’s Willy’s Wonderland pit Nicolas Cage against a troupe of murderous animatronics – think Five Nights at Freddy’s meets The Banana Splits Movie. Here to fill in some of the gaps left by the movie, this comic book prequel shows how the crew all came to be. Willy, Ozzie, Arty, Cammy, Tito, Gus, Sara, and Knighty Knight; the gang’s all here. But without Nicolas Cage at his Nicolas Cage-ist, is there any reason to care?
Still, Cage made such short work of Willy and his band of merry monsters that viewers barely had the time to get to know any of them. Writers SA Check and James Kuhoric redress the balance here, in a series of flashbacks to the mascots’ human days. At the same time, the story checks in on the restaurant, feeding the gang a series of fresh-faced recruits as lambs to the slaughter.
The dual timelines mix up the splatter, keeping the blood flowing through to the end of the issue. The art by Puis Calzada is blocky but effective, capturing the mascots’ likenesses well. Emmanuel Ordaz’s colours occasionally look a little too artificial and photoshoppy, but the texture work on the creatures is solid, and the colours do match the look and tone of the book and movie.
Ultimately, the best thing about issue #1 is the wonderfully gory cover by Buz Hasson and Ken Haeser. The story and art inside doesn’t always live up to that promise, but – Cage or no Cage – this is a welcome return to the world of Willy’s Wonderland.