tek's rating: ½

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Marvel
Written by Eric Shanower, art by Skottie Young
GCD; Marvel.com; Marvel Database; Wikipedia

Caution: spoilers!

Well, I suppose I should say I've never read any of L. Frank Baum's books, but I really should, someday. My knowledge of this story comes mostly from the Judy Garland movie... which of course I adore, though I'm sure it diverges in a number of ways from the source material. There have of course been many adaptations in various media over the years, though I'm familiar with very little of it. This 8-issue limited series is probably closer to the original book than most adaptations, but as I say, I wouldn't really know. Apparently the writer, Eric Shanower, has done a number of Oz-based stuff before, so I reckon he knows what he's doing, even if I have no knowledge of his prior work. All I can really say with certainty is that I quite enjoyed this adaptation, both the writing and the art. It's just beautiful, and amazingly charming.

I'm sure you're all familiar with the story, regardless of whether you've read the books, or just seen the movie (if you tell me you've never seen the movie, I won't believe you). It starts with young Dorothy Gale, who lives in Kansas with her Uncle Henry, a farmer, and Aunt Em, and of course her dog, Toto. A cyclone shows up, and sweeps the house away with Dorothy and Toto in it, and they land in a strange place called Oz, miraculously unharmed. She meets people called Munchkins, who are grateful to her for killing the Wicked Witch of the East, on whom the house had landed. Dorothy didn't mean to kill anyone, of course. She also meets the Good Witch of the North, who tells her about the wizard of Oz, who lives in the City of Emeralds. The Good Witch also gives Dorothy the Wicked Witch's silver shoes to wear.

Dorothy and Toto set out alone, hoping the Wizard will be able to help her get home. Soon they meet the Scarecrow, who joins them. He wants the Wizard to give him some brains. In book 2, they meet the Tin Woodman, who joins them in the hopes the Wizard will give him a heart. Soon after that, they meet a Cowardly Lion, who also joins them, hoping the Wizard can give him some courage. In book 3, the group overcame a number of obstacles on their way, including a field of poppies which put Dorothy and the Lion to sleep. The Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow received some help from the Mouse Queen and her subjects, in transporting the Lion away from the poppy field.

In book 4, they finally reach the Emerald City, where they must all wear spectacles that filter out the blinding brilliance of the city, where everything is green. Each member of the party gets to see the Wizard alone, and he appears in a different form to each of them; but he tells each of them the same thing, that they must kill the Wicked Witch of the West before he will help them. None of them are happy about this nor particularly hopeful about their chances, but they have no choice. So, in book 5, they set out to find her. She is aware they are coming, however, and send out various groups to destroy them, but each group fails... Until, finally, she sends out the winged monkeys, who she could command three times, when wearing a golden cap. She'd already used them twice, so this was her final time. And the monkeys managed to tear apart the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman, and brought Dorothy, Toto, and the Lion to the Witch's castle. The Lion was kept in a cage, and Dorothy became a servant. But the Witch was afraid to harm Dorothy... and wanted to get her silver shoes. Finally she got one of them, which made Dorothy mad. This led to her unwittingly killing the Witch (yes, with a bucket of water), and thus freeing the Winkies, who were her slaves. She and her friends were happy to stay with the grateful Winkies for a time, but eventually they went out and put the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman back together, and Dorothy also took the golden cap, not knowing its power. And then they set out to return to the Emerald City....

Well, they have several more brief adventures before the end of the series, stuff that wasn't in the movie. It was all interesting enough, but... I don't feel like detailing anything specific from this point on. Of course, I've also left out plenty of detail about the stuff that happened up to this point. This includes details of characters' backstories that were never really seen in the movie, as well as details of their journey together. Meanwhile, I must say, the story makes it pretty obvious that the Scarecrow has more brains than he thinks, the Tin Woodman has more heart than he thinks, and the Lion has more courage than he thinks. Dorothy... obviously has all of these traits. So... I'm really liking all of the characters and the whole story. It has an old-fashioned simplicity about it, but... it's also rather knowing. Quaint, sweet, clever, amusing, engaging, and a little dark... it's got everything you could ask for, including happy endings for everyone.

And then, there's another Oz miniseries, but I decided not to collect it. And I expect there may be still other miniseries after that. But maybe someday I'll buy trade paperback versions of those, or something.


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