Dorothy Gale finds out her ruby six shooters can take her back to Kansas in Legend of Oz: Wicked West #6, but is there really “no place like home?” Major Spoilers goes somewhere over the rainbow to find out!
Previously in Legend of Oz: Wicked West: Dorothy Gale has been traversing the yellow brick road with the Tin Man (a sheriff), a vacant-minded and mystical female Scarecrow and an intriguingly painted Lion, whose cowardice is still open to interpretation. In the last issue they met the wizard, and now the mini-series comes to a close, before returning as an ongoing in October!
SOMETHING SMELLS… GOOD?
First thing, I don’t know if it was just my copy or not, but when I opened up the pages of this issue it smelled really nice. I sort of doubt a small publisher like Big Dog Ink would financially pull anything as elaborate as scenting their pages, so maybe it’s just the high quality paper they use, but either way you heard it here first, Legend of Oz: Wicked West has the best smelling pages in comic books. I’m not really sure if this is relevant to the comic as a whole, but no matter the reason it set me in a good mood as I opened up the comic to see Gale meet up with Glinda.
This issue had to serve a dual purpose. It had to wrap up the story being told, but it had to do so in such a way to set up the new Legend of Oz ongoing that starts in October. While the last few issues have been weirdly both lagging and rushed in their pacing, their importance to setting up this sixth issue pays off. We open with the revelation that Dorothy could have left Oz to go home at any time using her ruby guns, a direct analogy to the classic ruby slippers. As she was in dire straits, being trapped in the Wicked Witch of the West’s dungeon, she immediately uses this escape route to go back home to Kansas. In a good twist it seems she hadn’t realized that the door the guns created would be permanent, and the Witch follows Dorothy through, confronting her in a good old fashioned shootout in Kansas.
Now, this is a good opportunity to touch on something that I think is really clever about this title. The elevator pitch for the book, as I’ve mentioned before and is quite obvious from the title of the comic, is the wild west meets Wizard of Oz. What makes that so clever in my mind is the fact that, being a Western version of Oz, the land of Oz looks much like the portrayal of Kansas in the original Wizard of Oz movie. Writer and founder of Big Dog Ink Tom Hutchison has done a spectacular job of giving each character and theme from the Wizard of Oz a distinctly Western feel to them; I’ve mentioned the brilliance of making the Tin Man a sheriff, and the eery portrayal of the Scarecrow as sort of a Native American shamaness was a great twist on an old classic. What I loved from this issue in particular is the way Dorothy discovers the Witch’s weakness to water–after they discover they’re evenly matched with guns (the bullets smashing together in mid-air in a very cliche but still entertaining scene) they begin a physical fight, and Dorothy’s sweat drops onto the Witch’s face, burning her. Dorothy, realizing the Witch’s weakness, then shoots the legs of a water tower causing it to fall on the Witch and crush her. This scene took me a little aback, as the physics of shooting the water tower came across as a bit far-fetched, but I then realized that if THAT was what I wanted to point out as far-fetched in this title I probably had my priorities wrong.
SOMETHING LOOKS GOOD, TOO!
Hutchison’s writing has been solid on this title, but credit must be given to both Allison Borges, the artist, and Kate Finnegan, the colorist. They’ve been on this mini for all six issues, and they’ve really helped create the feel of it. I felt the art for this issue started a little bit rough in the first few pages as the faces relied more heavily on colors and shading to create distinctions, but once the Wicked Witch entered the story Borges and Finnegan were on top of their game, delivering some of the best art we’ve seen on this title yet. It was really a bummer that the first five pages weren’t drawn as well, otherwise this would have been the best issue yet from an artistic standpoint.
BOTTOM LINE: BOTH A SOLID WRAP-UP AND A GREAT ZERO ISSUE
This issue does something I don’t know that I’ve ever really seen in a comic book; it does a fantastic job of wrapping up the mini-series that it’s a part of, but it could also easily be read as a stand-alone “zero issue” to set up the new ongoing Legend of Oz: Wicked West series that hits in October. If you have any interest in the Wizard of Oz franchise or this title, you should try to find this issue at a local comic shop or through a digital distributor, and then pick up the new series as it comes out this fall! While this issue does have a few flaws, falling into cliches every now and then and struggling to find its footing on art in the first few pages, it all comes together as a strong finish earning it 4 out of 5 stars.