Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, Eric Shanower and Skottie Young

Dorothy Gale is a young girl who lives on a Kansas farm with her Uncle Henry and Aunt Em. But when a tornado blows across the wide Kansas plains, her pet dog, Toto, ran away, and when Dorothy went to get him back, she was in the house when it spun away from its foundation and was carried off into the sky.

When the house finally landed, though, Dorothy found herself in a strange land known as "OZ". She is met by a group of people dressed all in blue, known as the Munchkins, and a small woman dressed in white. Because Dorothy's House has killed the Wicked Witch of the East, the Munchkins think she is a powerful witch. Dorothy protests that she isn't a witch and she hasn't killed anyone, but the woman points out that her house did so, so it doesn't make any difference. and there are two good witches in Oz, the witch of the North, and of the South. Only the Eastern and Western Witches are wicked.

However, Dorothy inherits the Witch's silver shoes, and sets off to the Emerald City to find the Wizard, the only man who can get her home. Along the way, she meets up with three other people who become her traveling companions: a scarecrow who wants a brain, a woodcutter who made an enemy of a witch and slowly had to replace all of his body parts with tin when she enchanted his axe to chop them off, and who now misses his human heart, and a Lion, who should be the King of the Jungle, but who is actually a coward at heart and wants some courage.

Soon, they arrive at the Emerald City, so named because of its color, but are forced to wear green-tinted glasses while they are in the city. There, each meets with the great and Terrible Wizard known as Oz, and each time, Oz is in a new form, which seems to prove that his powers as a wizard are vast, indeed. But Oz has one condition for fulfilling their wishes. Since Dorothy has killed the Wicked Witch of the East, she must go to the land of the Winkies, whom the Wicked Witch of the West had imprisoned and turned into her slaves. But the Witch knew that Dorothy and her companions were coming, and set out to destroy them- with her Wolves, her Black Bees, with her army of enslaved Winkies and finally, with her flying Monkeys. Though Dorothy and her friends overcome the first three challenges, the winged Monkeys defeat them, and they are imprisoned in the Witch's castle.

The Lion is put in a cage, and the witch disposes of the scarecrow and Tin Woodsman, breaking and scattering their bodies, and Dorothy, she turns into a slave and keeps in her castle. But she wants the silver shoes that once belonged to the Wicked Witch of the East and are now Dorothy's. But will she be able to steal the shoes and keep Dorothy imprisoned as a slave forever?

This is an unusual comic book, in that it hews more closely to the story in the book of the Wizard of Oz, and not to that of the movie, and therefore, a lot of the story will be new to people who have only seen the Judy Garland film. Here, the shoes are silver, not Ruby, and the Munchkins are not the only inhabitants of Oz- there are also the Winkies and the Quadlings. Glinda is the Good Witch of the South, not the North, and so on. Oh, and Aunt Em loved Dorothy and wasn't going to get rid of Toto- that was all made up for the movie.

But at the same time, the stories of the main characters make more sense, even that of the Wizard, who confesses himself to be a "humbug". I loved how so many things that appeared in the movie finally get an explanation- why the flying Monkeys served the Witch, how they came to be enslaved, and why the Emerald City appears all green (it's not actually green, but everyone who lives or visits there has to wear emerald-colored glasses, which makes everything appear to be green. All this information is presented in a way that makes me want to read more

Thankfully, the comic will be continuing with the next book in the Oz series, The Marvelous Land of Oz, which will introduce the character of Jack Pumpkinhead. I will certainly looking forward to it. This series has actually kindled a real interest in Oz, which is so much more than the famous movie. Highly recommended.

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