Monday, September 24, 2012

All-Action Classics: The Wizard of Oz

Another comic book adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz? How many have we had in the past 10 years? This is about the seventh one!

Well, that art looks cool.

Okay, so I caved and bought this adaptation. While we longtime Oz fans and comic collectors may tire of seeing the story done over in the same medium so many times, this one actually shows that there is more than one way to approach it.

Ben Caldwell's approach is not a straightforward approach by any means. Instead of retelling the Baum story or going the Marvel route and closely adapting Baum's dialogue, he instead reworks the story into an action-packed, colorful, funny romp.

Kansas isn't fleshed out much, and rather than showing a stressed relationship between Dorothy and her guardians, it instead shows Dorothy wanting to see more of the world before the Cyclone strikes.

In Oz, after Dorothy sets off down the Yellow Brick Road, things really start kicking into gear as she quickly gains her companions (the Lion keeps trying to eat Toto, Dorothy having to remove him from his mouth—twice). The adventures down the road are markedly different, starting with them finding the Queen of the Field Mice locked in a cage by a Kalidah, who soon appears, prompting the crossing of a gap using a fallen tree. After this escape, they roll into the Poppy Field, which the Lion identifies as the "Poison Poppies." Everyone falls asleep, but are rescued by the mice.

The Emerald City has a big nod to the "Wash and Brush Up" company of the MGM movie, mixing it with the "Green Girl" (later Jellia Jamb) from the book. They are warned that the Wizard may appear in any form, and a panel shows a fairy, a fireball, and a hideous beast, but all the friends are shown to the Wizard at one time, and he uses the Great Head form, which has been accentuated with a big beard this time.

The Wicked Witch of the West is a little similar to how the Good Witch of the North looked: a diminutive, plump lady who'd look funny if she didn't look so wicked. The attacks are done differently: the Scarecrow manages to just scare the crows away, the wolves break off their teeth on the Tin Woodman, and the Lion manages to scare away a bunch of Kalidahs the Witch sends.

While Dorothy slaves away as the Witch asks her for the slippers (explaining that they must be given or found for the magic to work), the Scarecrow's pieces manage to reassemble themselves, and soon the Tin Woodman as well. They head off to rescue Dorothy, but not before Dorothy manages to take care of the Witch herself.

The adaptation takes a page from the film version of The Wiz, having the Winged Monkeys drop Dorothy and her friends off right at the Wizard's palace, so they catch him unprepared.

The Wizard gives Dorothy and her friends placebos for what they wanted, and the Good Witch of the North appears and tells Dorothy how to use the slippers. (Glinda was mentioned in the beginning as being "mostly good.") Dorothy does ask her why she wasn't told before, and the Good Witch tells her that she never would have helped out her friends and the Land of Oz would still be in the thrall of the Wicked Witch. (I think this North Witch is only "mostly good" herself.)

So, Dorothy goes home. The end.

The art is pretty fun and cartoonish. Dorothy herself, I gotta admit, is pretty cute, even with the gap in her teeth. The Tin Woodman looks kind of French, though, and the Lion has a weird bulbous nose that looks like it has the standard nose painted on. The art's pretty pleasing.

Overall, if you're not tired of comics adaptations of Oz, here's a rather faithful one with some fun twists!

Get your copy on Amazon.com.

1 comment:

Sam A M said...

I would like to have seen this blog show a few pictures here or there, but if I ever see this in a shop I'll definitely give it a look and buy!