Saturday, February 12, 2011

The latest Oz comic books

Our monthly comics order came yesterday (delayed due to the snow back east, I gather), and there was a bumper crop of Oz stuff in it. So, let's dive in and take a look, shall we?

  • Ozma of Oz #3. Marvel, Eric Shanower, and Skottie Young are at it again, and as always, it's terrific. One of my favorite tertiary Oz characters, Princess Langwidere's maid Nanda, shows up here, and she has got to have one of the most improbable hairstyles Young has ever put in one of the Oz books — and that's saying something! This issue covers the book from Tik-Tok's fight with the Wheelers to the Ozians arriving in Ev. Great take on Langwidere, too, looking a little more Rubenesque than Neill drew her. Of course Young drew a two-page spread of her heads. How could any illustrator resist that?
  • Oz-Wonderland Kids #1. This appears to be the first issue of a spin-off prequel series from's Oz/Wonderland Chronicles series. Toto chases a familiar-looking White Rabbit down the yellow brick road, so Dorothy goes after him and they end up going through a mirror to Wonderland. So Dorothy meets Alice, they have a little adventure in Wonderland, and then Dorothy and Toto head home. The trouble is, their adventure involves the Wicked Witch of the West (wait, how come she's still around?) and the Queen of Hearts meeting up, comparing notes, and possibly getting ready to make some mischief. Oh, and there's someone behind the scenes who put that mirror there, and is trying manipulate things for his own nefarious reasons. (I have a suspicion I know who it is, but I won't mention it here.) This one is written with kids in mind; it even has puzzles and a coloring page. This is definitely Baum's Oz, with lots of little homages and touches to the original books. There's even a scene of the cards who, while painting the white roses red, spill paint on Dorothy's silver shoes. The omniscient narrator box you get in comic books asks, "Red shoes for Dorothy? Whoever heard of such a thing?" Fortunately, they get cleaned off before Warner Bros. and their lawyers can get involved.
  • Fables #101. This is a book I certainly know about, but have been reluctant to delve into because of the huge backstory. But when I heard that this issue was about Oz, was a good jumping on point, and was illustrated by Eric Shanower, I knew it was time to start. Sure enough, this issue didn't disappoint. Bufkin, the no-longer-winged monkey who I gather is a major player in this title, goes out on a mission that involves climbing a very large tree, which is supposed to take him home. However, he ends up not in Fabletown, but his original home, Oz! Or at least the lunch pail tree in Ev, which is close enough. There, he meets up with three escaped prisoners — Jack Pumpkinhead, the Sawhorse, and the Glass Cat! So Bufkin is now part of the resistance. (Did I mention that part of the premise of Fables is that Oz and many other fairy tale lands were invaded? And that the Nome King has been set up as a puppet ruler? None of that comes out in this book, however.) Of course Eric's art looks great (he did the pencils, and he has the support of some great inkers). Pay attention to the lunch pails in the tree, they will look very familiar to long-time Oz fans.
  • Ozma of Oz #4. Yay, two issues in the box! Ozma meets Langwidere, and gives as good as she gets. Dorothy is rescued! Backstory about the Nome King and what happened to the Royal Family of Ev! Skottie Young illustrates the Hungry Tiger! And everyone sets out to deal with the Nome King. Yup, still good.
  • And a nice little bonus Oz reference, in The All New Batman: The Brave and the Bold #3. Batman and the Flash have to deal with a team-up of the Mad Hatter and the Mirror Master, so with those two, naturally they end up in Wonderland! When they enter, the Flash looks around and says, "Whoa! Looks like we're not in Kansas anymore!" To which Batman replies, "Wrong book. We're not in Oz."

I'll close with a little bit of Oz comics news: Eric Shanower has confirmed that he and Skottie Young are already working on their adaptation of Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz. Skottie Young illustrating Mangaboos, Gargoyles, and Dragonettes? If I weren't already collecting these books anyway, I'd be there in a heartbeat!


J. L. Bell said...

After reading Fables, #101, I went back to read the Fables: Witches collection, which contains the battles Bufkin talks about.

That volume also introduces Ozma, though I don’t think she’s the Ozma we know and love.

ericshanower said...

Ozma has been in Fables for many issues, she simply stayed in the background and wasn't named, just appeared to be a little blond girl hanging around with Frau Totenkinder.

Oz characters also appear in the Fables spin-off series, Jack of Fables, although I haven't particularly followed that series, so I don't know how major their contributions are.

As for the progress on Marvel's Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz--I'm working on the script, but Skottie's still finishing the art for Ozma.