Friday, November 28, 2008


SPOILER WARNING! I will be discussing the plot of this comic book. If you have not yet read it or got it, you may want to skip this blog entry. If this is the case, I would recommend that you read another blog, watch a YouTube video, take a walk, have a glass of water, make a pot of tea, whatever. Then get the comic book, read it, and come back here. Okay?

Well, if you have decided not to heed my warning above, or if you already have the comic... Read on!

Marvel has done a few series of comics that retell fairy tales with their own twists. Last year they had Spider-Man Fairy Tales, which I kept up on! (It had the only version of Cinderella I've seen where the Princess dies at the end...) From these, you can get the idea that each story was basically the essence of a fairy tale and the essence of the Marvel hero mixed together to create a new story.

This year, they decided to take on classic fairy tale books that were actually originally novels, with takes on Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Alice in Wonderland, and of course, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. These featured the Avengers team, who is pretty popular for it's "rotating roster," so there was no end to Marvel characters who would be transformed into fairy tale characters.

Issue 4, the final issue, was the Oz story.

The story opens with She-Hulk (Jennifer Walters) defending the Avengers mansion from Whirlwind, who manages to knock her out. In a total wink-and-nod to the MGM movie, she has a delirium in which she finds herself in a beautiful countryside, greeted by Agatha (Harkness?), the Good Witch of the North, who thanks her for freeing the Munchkins (mini-people, a wink and nod to Ant-Man and Wasp) by dropping the Avengers mansion on Pietra, the Wicked Witch of the East.

Wanda, the Wicked Witch of the West (dressed in red, as she is represented by Scarlet Witch), arrives, Agatha hurries Jennifer to put on Pietra's silver shoes, which turn green when she dons them. Seeking revenge for her sister's death and infuriated by Jennifer's refusal to give her the shoes, Wanda chants "No more Munchkins," making all the Munchkins vanish.

Feeling responsible for what happened, and wanting to get out of Oz, Jennifer takes Agatha's advice to follow the Yellow Brick Road to Ruby City to see the Wizard of Oz. Along the way, she meets a Scarecrow who wants his strength so he can use his hammer again (based on Thor), a Tin Man who wants a heart (based on Iron Man), and a Lion who doesn't have courage (based on Captain America).

They soon reach Ruby City, where the Wizard has a task for them... But I'm going to stop recapping here... (Because that's where we really leave our old story behind.)

While the story does have a bit of a cheezy feel to it, it's expected. It's a comic book that has already stated that it isn't going to take it's source material very seriously. It manages to be funny and a little sweet.

The art is not the most detailed or elaborate ever seen, but it is good in a fairy tale for children style. It's very pleasing to the eye.

Oz fans, yes, this is yet another weird twist on the Oz story, and while we've seen many of those (Illusive Arts' Dorothy and SciFi's Tin Man come to mind right off the bat), I found it enjoyable.

Worth a read, and, shoot, help the comics industry and buy it!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Christmas tradition begun again...

Hey, I haven't begun re-reading The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus yet this year (Irvine Welsh and Oliver Sacks have been taking up my reading recently, hence why I haven't done too many Oz blogs), but I did just finish a new blog about the book, well... actually... It's not that...

What the blog I just finished is is excerpts from chat logs I've had with an Oz fan and Baum enthusiast where we discussed Baum's Santa Claus. I set it to appear on my blog on December 1, so keep your eyes open! There's plenty to talk about on it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A list...

Someone on YouTube asked me about how many Oz books L. Frank Baum wrote. I threw out some numbers, and asked "Want a list?" Well, they did... Here's what I came up with.


The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
The Marvelous Land of Oz (1904)
Ozma of Oz (1907)
Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (1908)
The Road to Oz (1909)
The Emerald City of Oz (1910)
The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1913)
Tik-Tok of Oz (1914)
The Scarecrow of Oz (1915)
Rinkitink in Oz (1916)
The Lost Princess of Oz (1917)
The Tin Woodman of Oz (1918)
The Magic of Oz (1919)
Glinda of Oz (1919)

Picture books...
The Woggle-Bug Book (1905)
The Little Wizard Series (1913): 6 picture books,
The Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger
Tik-Tok and the Nome King
Little Dorothy and Toto
Ozma And The Little Wizard
Jack Pumpkinhead And The Sawhorse
The Scarecrow And The Tin Woodman

The stories published in newspapers was "Queer Visitors from the Marvelous Land of Oz." The stories ran from 1904-1905, and have been collected in "The Visitors from Oz," and there is a full-color oversized collected edition coming out next year.

There was also a partial draft of a chapter discovered for an unfinished Oz book, and a quick story that Baum wrote in a copy of "The Road to Oz" for his grandson is considered it's own tale, "A Short, Short Oz Story." He also wrote a story called "The Littlest Giant: An Oz Story," but there seems to be no real connection to Oz.

Baum's books that are connected to Oz...
The Magical Monarch of Mo (1903, originally "A New Wonderland" from 1900)
Dot & Tot of Merryland (1901)
The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus (1902)
The Enchanted Island of Yew (1903) (Loosely connected)
Queen Zixi of Ix (1905)
John Dough and the Cherub (1906)
The Sea Fairies (1911)
Sky Island (1912)

Oz-related short stories...
The Runaway Shadows (1901)
The King Who Changed His Mind (1901)
A Kidnapped Santa Claus (1904)
Nelebel's Fairyland (1905)

Did I forget anything? That list was exhausting! I hope it was also exhaustive...

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!

Monday, November 17, 2008


Yeah, Wonders is ending, and I've made it official.

The big news will be under wraps for awhile, because I don't want it released prematurely.

Friday, November 07, 2008


So, over the past couple days, there's been some news about CGI-animated Oz films.

First off, John Boorman (director of the Oz-inspired "Zardoz") has been signed on to direct (and he cowrote the script for) a new adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as an animated film. What interested me is that it's being produced by a French studio, though they are doing the movie in English. Some of the best Oz movies I've seen were produced outside of the United States. Of course, any movie-making is fickle, but I'm looking forward to the finished product!
(Link to news story.)

While The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus isn't an Oz story, Baum did connect it to the Land of Oz in later works. It's been adapted into two television movies, it inspired an animated video, and was the basis of what seems to have been a popular anime television series. (Though that's never been released on any type of video.) Now, it's being animated AGAIN, this time for theaters! This is one of my favorite non-Oz Baum fantasy books. It is expected to be sold to a distributor for a Christmas 2010 release. Might be the next Christmas classic, might be the next hit-and-miss. It is also being produced overseas.
(Link to news story.)

I have blogged about how I re-read that book every Christmas... It'll soon be time to go back to do it again!

And today, someone linked me to a storyboard gallery for Alpine Pictures' Dorothy of Oz. Well... seeing it got me less-than-enthused... I felt that the book was one of Roger S. Baum best offerings, and the artwork and accompanying text let me know that this is going way off from that. I'll let you see for yourself: LINK.

Time will tell how these movies do...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

O-Z Out The Vote!

So, I voted this morning. It was in a Baptist church just a block north of my apartment building, so I had a short early morning walk.

There was a LONG line, and it took me over half an hour to get from the door to the table where I got my ballot.

ANYWAYS... the Oz connection?

There were three stations for people to go to, according to their last initial. These were separated into two table. The stations were marked "A-F," "G-N," and "O-Z."

That reminded me of the story of L. Frank Baum getting the name of Oz from his filing cabinet. It's not clear if this story is true or not, and I've heard two versions. The most common version says his cabinet had two drawers, "A-N" and "O-Z." The other says it had three, "A-G," "H-N," "O-Z."

Whatever. It's enough that he came up with such a catchy name!

And yeah, if you haven't voted yet, go! (Unless you're not a registered US voter.)