Warlord Of Oz #1 (of 6) Review

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We’re off to see the warlord!  The terrifying Warlord of Oz, because, because, because because, becaaaause…

…because we’re really kind of afraid of him.  Your Major Spoilers review of Warlord Of Oz #1 awaits!

WarlordOfOz#1WARLORD OF OZ #1
Writer: Joe Brusha/Jeff Massey
Penciler: Miguel Mendonca
Colorist: Grostieta
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Editor: Nicole Glade
Publisher: Zenescope Entertainment
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in Warlord Of Oz:  “Peace has been restored to Oz.  The fallen with, Lynessa, and her sister, Zinna, are fading into memory like a bad dream, soon to be remembered only in tales meant to frighten children.  But there IS one with that still draws breath in Oz and she has not forgotten the power of her masters or the evil that they left behind.  Soon, the people of Oz will face a foe more frightening than any enemy that has come before…  The Warlord of Oz has arrived!”

WHO KNEW DOROTHY GALE HAD A BODY LIKE THAT?

We open on a battlefield, with the soldiers of the Emerald City strewn about like tenpins, dying on a scorched plain while a shadowy figure laughs an evil laugh at their demise.  Glinda, The Good Witch, in her formal battle negligee, arrives just in time to shriek that they “never should have trusted” her assailant, only to be blown to pieces by her immensely powerful foe…

…Dorothy Gale?  Dorothy awakens from her nightmare of devastating Oz, and we get a quick peek of her life in Kansas around the time of the depression, which is all pretty charming (if lightweight stuff).  The usual Zenescope artistic tics are in play, which is to say that her nightgown is flimsy, her alternate dream-self is wearing thigh-high boots, a miniskirt and a corset, and she has a balcony you could do Shakespeare off.  At the same time, back in Oz, the Scarecrow has been named the King’s advisor, and has to keep the peace among the people, in a scene filled with pop culture references (most of them, oddly, science-fiction references, including a large Serenity riff and Battlestar Galactica curse words.)  The Cowardly Lion, as seen on one of the many covers, arrives to greet his old friend, and is predictably a ripped Conan-type leonine warrior-king, and both go to greet Glinda, who (like dream-Dorothy) is wearing a lingerie-inspired ensemble with heels, perfect for arcane studies…

A *LOT* OF POP CULTURE REFERENCES

There’s a lot going on in this issue, and some clever bits of dialogue and plotting, but I’m constantly being distracted by the art.  Aside from the requisite T&A show (which, to be frank, is the Zenescope house style), there are some really well-drawn sequences in this issue, especially a short battle between the Lion and a shape-shifting wizard who turns out to be Glinda’s apprentice.  My biggest problem with the issue is one of tone, with modern slang and snark in most of the dialogue working against the story for me, as it doesn’t seem to fit either depression-era Kansas or a lost alternate world of magic and munchkins and such.  The story also throws in a confusing double-bluff dream sequence, leaving me wondering what (if any) of what I’ve read truly happened.  As amusing as it is to see “Bartelby” the Scarecrow catching up with Lion Prince Thorne, it just feels like a big anachronism stew of magical stuff, with only the names and labels to really tie it to the continuity of Oz.  I am very impressed by the coloring and production, though, especially the textures and tones of the Scarecrow, and a magical tornado that appears late in the issue to (presumably) bring Dorothy back to Oz.

THE BOTTOM LINE: A BIT CONFUSING

The upshot of this all is that, even though bits of this story are pretty engaging, there’s a few things working against it.  The multiple jumps in time and dream sequences leave me confused, although the art does a pretty good job of distracting me from the cheesecake factor.  All told, Warlord Of Oz #1 seems a bit confused, but does an admirable job of trying to update the characters and settings to a modern parlance, and features some lovely art, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall.  If you’re a fan of Oz and/or of the Zenescope universe, this book may be right up your alley…