Wednesday, November 19, 2008

MarvelOz Comics

I'm awaiting the arrival of Avengers Fairy Tales #4, the last issue that will relate a fantasy story using the story of The Wizard of Oz and the characters of The Avengers.

Last night, I put in my subscription order for Marvel's adaptations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and The Marvelous Land of Oz. (If you haven't subscribed yet, DO IT! Right now it's only $30, it'll cost you a lot more if buy the comics individually. At a rate of $4 per comic, with eight issues each story, that's $64, giving you a $34 savings!) (LINK)

These series are being adapted by Eric Shanower, with artwork by Skottie Young. I've been an admirer of Eric's work, especially his Oz work, for many years, and Skottie seems to be a talented artist, even though he's no Neill or Denslow. (Thank God.) Here's a link to an interview with Eric. (Link)

I also wound up with two copies of the Sketchbook Marvel released for free, and so far, have been unable to find anyone who wants a copy...

You know, this isn't Marvel's first Oz project. They were planning a comics adaptation of the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz back in the 70's, when competitor DC Comics informed them that they were doing their own Oz project. Stan Lee suggested the two companies collaborate on Oz instead of competing, and together they produced an oversized graphic novel based on the classic MGM musical. Marvel followed it up with an adaptation of The Marvelous Land of Oz that had characters modeled after Neill's illustrations, or in the case of the iconic MGM characters, the adaptation used their likenesses. (An exception was made with Glinda, a note in the back explained that the Good Witch in Wizard was the Good Witch of the North, while Glinda would look like Neill's Good Witch of the South.) However, disappointing sales and legal issues dealt a crushing blow to this series, and somewhere (or possibly several somewheres), the work for Marvel's Ozma of Oz is wasting away.

(My information about the beginning of Marvel and DC's collaboration comes from the back matter of Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew: The Oz/Wonderland Wars #1.)

Marvel later used the Oz story in What If? #100, with a backup story featuring a slightly different origin for the Fantastic Four. Sue Storm gets knocked out on the crash landing on Earth after the four have been bombarded by cosmic rays. She has a delirium where she's in a fantasy world, though I don't think it gets called "Oz." Very humorously, the Scarecrow's role is filled by an ever pliant (and very silly) Mr. Fantastic, the Tin Man by a burning Johnny Storm, and the Cowardly Lion by Ben Grimm, the Thing. The Wicked Witch is replaced by Doctor Doom, and the Wizard is the Sub-Mariner.

In addition, Oz references pop up all over in Marvel's comics. In another issue of What If?, the Fantastic Four have been given different powers, Johnny becoming a man made of metal. In one panel, he says he needs to oil himself, leaving some girls to compare him to the Tin Woodman.

Jack O'Lantern reminds Spider-Man of Jack Pumpkinhead in one comic book.

Peter Parker even owes more than a few passing resemblances to Dorothy. He's an orphan, living with his aunt and uncle who are getting along in their years, and then is later thrown into a world of danger and adventure. Even the names of his aunt and uncle bear some resemblance to Oz. Using an initial, Aunt May becomes Aunt M., and Uncle Ben's name has a one letter difference from "Uncle Hen," "Hen" being a shortened form of Henry. (Of course, the namings could be, and probably are, pure coincidence.)

Anyways... Make Mine Marvel!

1 comment:

Nathan said...

I just went ahead and pre-ordered the upcoming Marvel series. Young's art has kind of a weird, creepy quality, but it still looks like an interesting project.