The Wonderful Wizard of Oz #1 Review
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz #1 review by Donna Jackson
Written by Eric Shanower
Art by Skottie Young
Classic literature occasionally gets the comic book treatment and creates a whole new fanbase, such as with Stephen King's Dark Tower. In 1975, DC and Marvel worked on their first collaboration, not as a story for their respective superheroes, but in an adaptation of the L. Frank Baum's classic children's tale The Wizard of Oz. Now Marvel has again published a new 8-part miniseries on the classic story, with the same charm and wonder of the original, but with amazing new dreamlike visuals for a new generation of readers.
The story is familiar enough. Girl from Kansas gets hit with a twister. Her house flies into the air, landing on top of a striped-socked witch. The diminutive townspeople known as Munchkins celebrate. A pretty witch who looks more like a princess tells her if she ever wants to return home to her family, she must find the Wizard. That's pretty much the plot of the first issue of Marvel's new adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Since it's very possible you may have read the book, seen the movie, or watched it as a play, is there any reason why you should check out the tale in a new format? You absolutely should, specifically for artist Skottie Young and colorist Jean-Francois Beaulieu.
However, don't expect something a new take on the story of Dorothy Gale, in the style of Broadway's Wicked or Alan Moore's Lost Girls. Writer Eric Shanower keeps it faithful to the Baum book written over a decade ago, not the movie version. The slippers are silver now, not Ruby, and Dorothy's trademark blue checkered dress is a gift from the Munchkins. Dorothy herself is now the little girl she is supposed to be, not the teenager Judy Garland played in the film. Also impressive is Toto, Dorothy's black Scottish Terrier, who feels more like a real character and part of the story instead of a simple prop.
Remember how drab and boring the opening scenes in black-and-white looked in the movie? Won't see that here. Frequent Marvel artist Skottie Young does a superb job illustrating both Kansas and Oz, and colorist Jean-Francois Beaulieu work looks like the issue was painted in watercolors. It all looks amazing, both artist and colorist complement each other well.
My favorite character however, as he has been every time I've read or watched The Wizard of Oz, is still the Scarecrow. Here, Young makes the character his own, looking like a mix of Dr. Jonathan Crane and Jack Skellington. His final words of the issue could be foreshadowing that this retelling will take a darker tone than previous versions. Or it could simply be a silly comment to show that he may not be as brainless as he seems. We only get views of the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion on the cover, but it looks like they will maintain the same weird charm that fits perfectly with the tone of the book. I can only wonder what Young has in store for the winged monkeys and the Wizard.
I think L. Frank Baum would enjoy this graphic novel version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The book's amazing artwork and respect to the original material make this new miniseries just as great as Marvel's best superhero series on the stands today.