So, this is my first graphic novel done by one of the two “big” publishers and it’s not even a superhero book! Hahaha!
We’re off to see the Wizard
- Written by Eric Shanower
- Adapted from the novel by L. Frank Baum
- Penciled and Inked by Skottie Young
- Colored by Jean-Francois Beaulieu
- Lettering by Jeff Eckleberry
- Published by Marvel
- Collects The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Issues 1-8
I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore …
Forget Judy Garland. Forget everything you learned in the movie. Forget that weird Michael Jackson movie, The Wiz. This graphic novel returns to the source, while adding a few elements to keep things fresh and interesting. Now, I will admit, the last time I read the actual book was probably in the seventh grade or so, and my memory isn’t perfect. I do recall certain details being omitted from the movie, which I truly missed, such as their journey to find the Glinda, the Good Witch of the South. The retelling goes into great detail and each page brings back memories of my childhood and reading the story for the first time.
If I only had a brain
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: There is a girl that is transported to a far away land. There, she meets many friends and journeys to find safe passage home. She ends up becoming a great hero–and, at the very end, she learns that there is no place like home.
If you’ve read the book or even seen any iteration of the movie, you will not be surprised. There are no big twists, no last-minute changes in script–just a good story that has survived the test of time. When you examine why it can still hold up in today’s society, there are a few reasons. First, it takes place in an almost fantasy setting. Sure, there may still be a part of rural Kansas without televisions and electricity, but once we step into Oz proper, we can suspend our disbelief. Here is a world where magic still rules. Scarecrows can talk, witches can summon animals to do their bidding, and an entire country can be fooled by a man in a hot air balloon. The next reason it hasn’t shown its age are the concepts behind it. Though the three supporting characters are searching for something, they do not even realize that by searching for these qualities, they have already found them. Dorothy teaches us that no matter how fantastic or wonderful a place may seem, home will always be the place you want to return to. Finally, it teaches children that everyone has a gift or talent that should not be overlooked; for, one day, it may come in handy.
It’s a horse of a different color
Skottie Young does a phenomenal job illustrating this entire story. In fact, the cover was what drew me towards the book in the first place. His depictions of the different characters range from cute and lovable to fierce and scary. Each person has a distinct shape and form, which is instantly recognizable. The facial expressions are funny and varied. While some might be put off by the “cutesy” style, I find it endearing, especially considering their target audience. While there is a lot to take in on each panel, it never feels cluttered or overwhelming.
The colors do an amazing job separating each new area from the previous. From the dismal grey of Kansas to the colorful scenery of Oz’s countryside to the monotone green palette of the Emerald City, every scene has its own unified color scheme. This is great for younger readers as it breaks up the story and tells them when a scene has changed.
No good deed goes unpunished
There is a dose of violence here and there, but nothing worse than some Saturday morning cartoons. The Wicked Witch is frightening, but not gruesome. The series is obviously aimed towards younger readers, so it is light on the gore. Wolves and crows do get killed, so be mindful of that. Otherwise, this is fun for the whole family!
There’s no place like home
Yes, this series is aimed towards a younger audience and yes, if you’ve already seen the movie or read the book, you’ll basically know how it ends. Is it worth picking up? My instincts say yes. First, if you are reading this, you obviously have some interest in comics. If you have children and want to get them started reading comics, this would be a great start. It is available in both hardcover and softcover. The back has a load of character designs and cover art, which are a nice addition.
Finally, I always like to see an artist’s take on a classic, and this retelling is a wonderful example of a creative and artistic retelling of a classic story. I think L. Frank Baum would be proud to see his work being revamped and brought to the youth of today in this collected edition.