Realm: The Land of Fire & Brimstone
Featured In: American McGee’s Alice (2000)
Voiced By: Roger L. Jackson
Like all things, “Jabberwocky Week” must draw to a close but fear not, gentlemen and ladies, for there are still plenty of Jabberwocks to be had for next year so let us end this week with a bang. There are few that are unaware of the game American McGee’s Alice for it was a game that while not groundbreaking in its graphics or even in its gameplay, it is a game that brought such a dark continuation to an otherwise bright childhood fairytale that has yet to be met since. It has done so remarkably well in fact that it not only spawned a sequel in recent years but rumors abound of a series of animated shorts akin to The Animatrix have fans eagerly awaiting for more from this grimly dark world that Wonderland has become.
To those of you who’ve never played the game, allow me a moment to tell you the story of how Wonderland became a place of nightmares and horrors, at least without spoiling the events that transpire in the game’s sequel, Madness Returns. Young Alice happened to be sleeping one night, dreamily visiting her Wonderland once more when misfortune struck in the form of a fire that took the lives of her family and left poor Alice mentally scarred for years to come.
Lured once more down the rabbit hole, Alice finds that her own madness has infected Wonderland, turning it and its denizens into a realm of horror and death where no one is safe. Each denizen that Alice meets and every land that she visits of this changed Wonderland is a reflection of her self and the real world that she tries so desperately to escape from.
The Jabberwock and its Land of Fire & Brimstone is no different and he is, quite easily, the worst foe Alice has to encounter in the entirety of the game for while the Queen of Hearts had become the very root of her madness, the Jabberwock represents something far worse to Alice.
He is her guilt over having survived the fire and watching helplessly as her family burned before her very eyes and he delights in reminding her so. Like much of Wonderland’s denizens, the Jabberwock had been viciously altered from his normal self to that of a tick-tock amalgamation of living flesh and gears thanks in no small part to the Mad Hatter.
Serving as the Queen of Hearts’ last line of defense and then-ultimate enforcer, the Jabberwock is a monster of no equal whose very gaze can tear the earth asunder. In fact, that is the sole reason that Alice initially confronts the Jabberwock in the first place, to take one of his eyes to complete the “Eye Staff,” the most powerful weapon in Alice’s arsenal.
In the first game at least.
In their first confrontation, Alice just barely manages to survive only in thanks to the intervention of the Gryphon who manages to tear out one of the Jabberwock’s eyes, thus allowing Alice to complete the Eye Staff. Unfortunately, their second confrontation would again begin in tragedy as the Jabberwock fights and mortally wounds the Gryphon before moving on to Alice herself. Ultimately, he is slain and unlike most of Wonderland’s denizens, even those who had turned and brutally fought against Alice at every turn, he remains dead in the sequel.
And yet… It is the haunting image of the Jabberwock that lures Alice back into Wonderland and it is there, in the midst of his wicked skull, where she finds her signature weapon, the Vorpal Blade, once more.
Out of the previous Jabberwocks that I’ve reviewed, and including those still in the waiting, this is the one and only Jabberwock of the bunch that truly fits the monstrous role to me. True, the one from the made-for-television miniseries was a manifestation of Alice’s fears but what is fear compared to overwhelming guilt?
The courage to overcome fear, to continue despite its foul presence, is found time and time again in every story, but guilt? Guilt over having survived one’s family, and of standing helplessly as they burn before your very eyes? Guilt cannot be ignored and cannot wholly be overcome. It must be faced, it may even be vanquished, but its stain will remain for years to come.