The GeeksverseThe Legend of Oz: The Wicked West

The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West
Published on Monday, July 2, 2012 by

This book was recommended to me by Rob Anderson, creator of Rex, the Zombie Killer, because he thought I would like it. He was right. I did. Here’s why:

What long time readers will probably know is that I am burning out on super hero spandex books and looking for other genres of comics without getting carried away by the zombie horde band wagon. Astute readers will remember that I do like a nice Western comic. What people won’t know is that I’ve been to Oz. One of the first true theme parks in the United States was located in Beach Mtn, NC and based on the famous book series. Sadly, the park was abandoned, part was converted into a subdivision, but every year the remainder is opened for a weekend of nostalgia. I’ve always been fascinated by the series, grew up with the color movie, and have dreamed about trying to read the entire series. The original series takes up 6 linear feet of shelf space which is why the American Library Association banned the books and subsequently why they have fallen out of print and are hard to find.

So, handing me a Wizard of Oz inspired comic is either fortuitous or disastrous. Honestly, Anderson’s recommendation coupled with a quick flip sold me on picking this book up. I missed it when it hit comic shop shelves in Oct 2011. The art convinced me to take this book home.

In this case you can judge the book by the cover. The cover art, I have the cover pictured to the left, is indicative of what you will find in the interior. As you can see Dorthy isn’t a little girl anymore. She’s all grown up and illustrated nicely. Although Dorthy Gale is well drawn this is far from being a cheesecake comic. The story is equally nice.

Dorthy Gale has been in Oz three years trying to follow the brick road to the Emerald City when the book opens. She’s frustrated in the long, odd, unseen journey to that point and reminiscing with her horse Toto. The golden road has been picked apart and stolen so she is struggling to find her way. Instead of ruby slippers, she has been bequeathed with special side irons that she’ll need to make her way safely through this strange and foreign land if she ever hopes to get home.

At Big Dog Ink’s booth at Heroes Con I saw an image of the re-visioned flying monkeys. Instead of small delicate monkeys, these have been transformed into winged gorillas with attitude. Reading the comic I realized that transformed is a great word.  Is were-flying-monkey a word?

The cowboy hats and spurs are not purely decorative on the redrawn heroine. This comic oozes western tale tropes and staples. Barren landscapes for pondering. Small towns over run by unsavory characters. Seedy bar room. A trusty trick horse.

The exposition is inserted into this first issue naturally which is a mark of a well told story being unfolded.

It is true that in New York City there are over 13,000 cabs but only one ever paid YOU cash (Cash Cab), but more than one version of Oz can exist.  Oz purists may find this comic problematic, although most purists seem tied to the movie and not the books.  As a fan of the property, that knows some of the books and movie, I think that The Wicked West is a nice retooling and retelling. It is a re-vision that is on part with DC/Vertigo’s Fables for those of you that need obligatory comparisons in reviews of small press books. More intricate than most cheese cake retellings, this comic has class and chaps.

As Reading Rainbow was fond of saying, don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself.

Because I have only recently discovered this title that premiered way back in 2011, the first four issues are already out. Check them out online or ask your local comic shop retailer to order copies for you and friends.I’ll be picking up the next issues to see what unfolds along the yellow brick road.

Tom Hutchison, Writer

Alisson Borges, Artist

Kate Finnegan, Colorist

See you on the road!

 

 

 

 

3 Responses
    • I saw this at NYCC at the Big Dog Ink booth and almost picked it up.  Been regretting it ever since.

      •  Contact your local comic shop or check out their reasonable on-line prices!

        Seriously, I think some of the cute-girl-for-cute-girl’s-sake has been overdone in comics but this is a well told story with a protagonist that makes sense. Unlike top heavy ninjas or bikini wearing commandos that are only sensational. This is a well executed story with a strong feminine protagonist that doesn’t hide herself away either.

        Tell your friends.

    • Good news bad news. My comic shop was sold out of #2-3 but they did have #4. I couldn’t resist picking it up, but now I’ll have to decide if I want to read it out of order or wait until I can track down the missing issues. Decisions. decisions. 

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