Tuesday, January 01, 2013

The Latest Oz Reading

Welcome to 2013! Hmm, it doesn't look that different from 2012 yet, does it? And speaking of 2012, I have a little catching up to do, with some unfinished business. I'm not in the midst of my usual cycle of Oz reading, but there were comics last month! So, here they are:

  • Fables #123. Bigby saves the day, yadda yadda, let's get to Oz! A Revolution in Oz is wrapping up, as Ruggedo has an encounter with a piece of rope. Next issue promises to be good, as it wraps up this storyline — and that's all in it!
  • The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West #2. Tip rescues the Scarecrow, and meets up with the Sawhorse (but not after the latter has an encounter with the Field Mice). Jinjur enlists the Wheelers' help in getting them back. And there's a horse named Chittenango!
  • The Oz/Wonderland Chronicles: Prelude to Evil #2. The biggest problem with these books is that they come out so far apart and irregularly that it's really hard to keep up with the storyline. But there is one iconic scene in this book: The Frogman meets the Frog Footman from Alice in Wonderland! How cool is that? (Glinda also looks terrific in this book.)
  • And finally, The Road to Oz #3. Still going strong! Shaggy gets a new head. King Kik-a-Bray looks particularly silly in his glasses (a detail I don't recall from Baum, but used by both Neill and Young). The Musicker! (I love what Skottie Young does for his teeth!) And at long last, Skottie Young gets to show us his Scoodlers! Surprisingly, this may be one creature he sticks closest to Neill with — and yet they're very Youngesque and definitely creepy. Of course, the Queen is even worse! This issue wraps up with Polychrome slapping their guard, so we'll see what happens in the next issue (which I should be getting soon). I can definitely tell that there are some details from the book that Eric Shanower would have included in earlier books, but with the new six-issue limit, some of it had to go. The good news is that it still feels like it's there, and little actual content has been jettisoned, even though the pace is a little quicker.
Since I'm on my winter break right now, I'm also trying to tackle a few of the stories from the anthology Shadows of the Emerald City. I've always felt that there was a lot of untapped potential for Oz short stories, and this sort of anthology could be a big success. However, Shadows has a definite dark turn to it that is not going to appeal to a lot of hardcore Oz book fans, even though there are a lot of homages to the books in here. Even Pigasus turns up! But it's also clear that most of the contributors know a lot more about Oz from The Movie than the books, as a lot of the imagery is more MGM than Baum, and many create character backgrounds or Oz histories out of whole cloth, not based on anything Baum wrote. So, here are the ones I've read over the past couple of weeks:
  • "Tin" by Barry Napier. An alternate origin for the Tin Woodman, one in which he's a spy for the Wicked Witch! This one does not turn out well, and is clearly set in an alternate version of Oz.
  • "Fly, Fly Pretty Monkey" by Camille Alexa. The Wicked Witch of the West shows her maternal side towards the monkeys. There's an alternate explanation for the purpose of the Golden Cap in this one.
  • "A Heart Is Judged" by Kevin G. Summers. The Wicked Witch of the East has a diabolical plan to keep the Munchkins in line (with some shades of The Hunger Games). There's a neat little twist ending to one of the characters in this one, and we also get an origin for the Scarecrow that at least makes more sense than the one in The Royal Book of Oz.
  • "Mr. Yoop's Soup" by Michael D. Turner. Mr. Yoop has escaped, and comes to the Munchkin Country for his first proper meal in years. This is definitely the most gruesome, and at the same time funniest, story in the collection so far. Do not eat this one while eating, or on a full stomach!
  • "Emerald City Confidential" by Jack Bates. A noir-influenced tale of power and corruption, as an exiled member of Ozma's security force comes back from exile to try to find out who is wiping out Munchkins. But he quickly finds he is in over his head.
  • And finally (for now), "The Last Battle of Trewis" by David S. Mason. An old soldier from the last revolution comes face to face with the former emperor of Oz — the one Trewis killed during the war!

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