Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Latest Oz Reading

I've just started my latest wave of Oz reading. Rather than save it all up and try to catch up all in one go, I'm going to see if I can blog about what I read as soon as possible this time around. (Hey, it's still summer break for a couple more weeks, I may actually be able to pull it off.) First up was Adolf Hitler in Oz. Yes, you read that title correctly. It seems Der Führer faked his own death in 1945, and used an experimental time machine to escape Germany. However, it didn't take him to the future, it took him to Oogaboo! There, he decides to start over again, and tries to take over Oz. Of course, Ozma isn't going to stand for that, but she decides to let him try for reasons of her own. It all comes crashing down around Hitler's head, of course — and that's when things really get interesting. The last third of the book may be the best examination yet I've ever seen of what it's like to be a regular, ordinary citizen of Oz and what it's like to live there, especially in the Emerald City. The problems and thoughts of Adolf contrasted with the kindness shown to him by Ozma and her court makes for a very powerful message of what it really means to be a good person. In reading this book, I couldn't help thinking about Gregory Maguire's Wicked and how his first thought for a subject for a book about how people become evil wasn't the Wicked Witch of the West, but Adolf Hitler. I don't think this is the book he would have written, but it does show how someone who is that wicked can, perhaps, still be rehabilitated and learn to be a better person.

And hey, the new comics order came, too! Here are the Oz-related books I've read so far:

  • Fables #131. A new arc starts in this issue that doesn't appear to be Ozzy at all. However, yet another Ozma cameo, as she is still trying to cure the Big Bad Wolf. The rest of the issue is pretty good, and the new arc looks promising, but if you're reading this just because you're an Oz fan, you can probably give this one a pass (unless you're an über-completist).
  • Oz by Zenescope. They've teased it for some time now, but at last the company that seems to be mostly about reimaginings of classic children's stories delves into Oz at last. Everyone looks a lot sexier in this version, of course, because that's the sort of thing Zenescope does. We don't know all of what's going on in this six-issue miniseries yet, of course, but something escapes from Oz and makes its way to Kansas. Dorothy, longing to get away from the farm, adopts the wolf who comes to her and names it Toto. Some slinky lady in black comes to the farm to take Toto back, but Uncle Henry drives her off, so the lady in black whips up the tornado. Dorothy's in Oz, Munchkins, and then a slinky lady in green. There are elements of the 1925 silent movie, Tin Man, and the Russian "Magic Land" series here. There are no real surprises or new twists on Oz in here (yet), but I suspect Zenescope doesn't know that. The map of Oz in the back is all messed up, as these folks are clearly basing this solely on the book and/or movie, ignoring the rest of the series.
  • The Steam Engines of Oz #1 picks up where the Free Comic Book Day issue left off, as Victoria and her allies are on the run while trying to figure out how to stop the Emerald City from overrunning the rest of the country. They make it out into the countryside, where a pack of lions decides that Victoria would make a nice meal. Then along come some Munchkins to either help the situation or further complicate it (we'll find out next issue). It's an interesting, steampunk version of Oz where technology is now the system of power, not magic. The Tin Woodman is a tyrant, and he's the only familiar character we've seen so far. We're getting major hints, however, that we'll see more before long. Victoria, having lived in the Emerald City all her life, has some great reactions to her first encounters with nature (there is a terrific splash page of her with a bunch of butterflies), and I'm interested in seeing where this goes next. The publishers have already solicited the first issue of the second series (apparently this will be presented in a series of series, each with a small number of issues), so it seems there is a lot more story to tell.
Next up will be some remnants from this year's Winkie Convention.

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