The Wizard of Oz meets the Wild Wild West. What seems like a silly mashup of properties proves to be a really enjoyable take on a classic childhood story; it avoids most of the pitfalls of the mashup genre while also having all the bonuses!
Previously, in Legend of Oz: Wicked West: Dorothy Gale has landed in Oz, which ironically actually looks like the popular Hollywood depiction of “old west” Kansas. Along with her horse, Toto, and a pair of Ruby Red spurs and six-shooters, Dorothy has to follow the “yellow brick road” which was made of golden bricks, and unsurprisingly has been mostly ripped up out of the ground by greedy travelers.
EXPECTATIONS, MEET REALITY
I admit, I went into this book not expecting to like it. I figured it would be mostly ridiculous, and thought in the worst case scenario I’d get to write a review poking fun at it. Instead, I was incredibly pleasantly surprised. For a concept that could so easily be played up for laughs and heavy-handed “hey look what we’ve done with this character” moments, this is masterfully done. The moments where you realize “oh, that character is supposed to be the Tin Man!” are really pleasing because, even though it is eventually discussed in the exposition, the writer waits until the last necessary moment to tell you so you’ve had every opportunity from subtle character cues and dialogue hints to pick up on the identities.
The characterization of Dorothy is fantastic; she typically goes by “Gale,” which struck the right chord for me from the beginning of this series–while there isn’t anything overly adult about the book, it isn’t the Wizard of Oz from your youth. There’s some violence as Gale shot some thugs in a bar last issue (a great moment, as my thought process went “Hmm, are those going to be the flying monkeys?” right as the remaining gang members shed their human disguises to show themselves as flying monkeys), and the book opens with the Tin Man’s axe embedded in one monkey’s back.
This issue focuses on Dorothy and the Tin Man leaving town, letting the Cowardly Lion loose and running into the Scarecrow on their way. The Scarecrow is an interesting character, seeming almost to be a desexualized succubus; a possibly dangerous woman with a lack of brains. Despite the Tin Man’s warnings of the danger of Scarecrows, Dorothy accepts her into their traveling group, and the issue culminates with a nice TV or movie style ending as Dorothy has Toto try to jump a large canyon.
OZ HAS NEVER LOOKED SO GOOD
I had never heard of Big Dog Ink before this title, but I am going to keep an eye out for more titles from them. The art in this issue is gorgeous, from the creepily beautiful Lion to the drop dead gorgeous (but not overly sexualized) Dorothy Gale. There isn’t anything unique to the art in this book; it isn’t a J.H. Williams III book or anything on that level, but it is really good “standard” art. The art is considerably better than some of the books the Big Two are putting out, so kudos to Big Dog Ink on getting a strong talent in Alisson Borges and the great coloring of Kate Finnegan.
BOTTOM LINE: Drop a Generic Superhero Book and Pick Up this Fun, Alternative Title!
If you’re getting bored with the same old superhero stuff, this is a really refreshing take on a classic story. Taking old tales and spicing them up or doing a mashup with another idea isn’t anything new to comic books, but each individual idea is something new in itself. The release schedule on this book has been a bit sporadic, but if you can get your local comic shop to order it for you, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Four out of five stars from me!