Graphic Novel Review Week
**WARNING: SPOILER ALERT — SPOILERS WITHIN**
Oh foolish, foolish me. For some reason, I had hoped we’d moved beyond graphic novels where the women were so busty and thin-waisted they make Barbie™ look flat-chested. But apparently, judging by this collection of tales from the land of Oz, that is not the case.
“Reboots” are becoming common, and it’s no surprise that someone has taken on the idea of re-booting the Oz stories. This particular collection of tales gives a new look at the beginnings of the Tinman, Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, and even Toto. The reboot is more than just their appearances (those changes alone are quite dramatic). The history of how they came to be is different than L. Frank Baum’s stories. Let’s start, as the book does, with the Tin Man….
Our human-looking woodsman is out chopping wood for the witches. It’s his job, though he’s pretty lonely. Suddenly he sees a woman nearby. She is creating little spirit life from nothingness. And though she just appeared to him, she is attacked by a local beast and on the verge of death. And also, though he hasn’t spoken even a word to her, he is immediately in love with her. A love so pure and binding that he’d do anything for her. He takes the near-death girl to the witch and begs that she be saved. Because she showed magical powers, the witch is interested and takes her in, saves her, and trains her as an assistant. But of course the girl is also in love with the woodsman. They run off together, are caught, and the woodsman loses his heart (literally) to the witch and is transformed in to the robotic-looking Tin Man.
I’m not sure how we’re supposed to believe the true-love story when there isn’t any time for any sort of relationship to develop. Certainly he’s physically aroused by the girl…she’s probably got the most incredible body ever drawn in a comic book… but ‘true love’? That one is hard to swallow.
The Cowardly Lion’s story is a little more interesting. Here we have brother pitted against brother. One a warrior, one a poet, but the female lion chooses the poet even though she’s been promised to the warrior. A battle is fought, the poet wins, though he wonders if it might not be true that he is, in fact, a coward.
And then to the Scarecrow… as a man (named Bartleby), he confronts and bargains with the witches to save the people of the villages. For their (witches) promise to not harm the people, the man promises that he will get them to be supportive of their wicked leaders. But as he goes from town to town, trying to rally support he is horrified to learn that the witches’ army is slaughtering villagers all about the countryside. He hurries back to his wife, who has managed to survive, only to be instantly killed by the witches as Bartleby is transformed in to a mindless scarecrow.
And finally to Toto… well, I think you get the picture by now, that this Oz is not the Oz from the original stories, and certainly not the Oz from the famous flick. Toto, just as similarly, is not the cute little dog you might think (just as Dorothy is not the innocent little farm girl…she’s more in line with Daisy Duke here).
Mostly I found the stories disappointing. All three major characters are changed because of a love for a woman. We couldn’t come up with anything just a little different? Two are physically changed by the witches themselves. And the women for whom the males characters have lost everything ….? They’re simple pastiches of every average female in comics. They’re nothing but sexy bodies. Even the witches, who could be interesting characters, are more about looking sexy in their flimsy faille gowns than they are about being something.
Although the women all look exactly alike except for the clothes they almost wear, I actually liked the artwork. There was great consistency and realism with just the right amount of fantasy-appearing-differentness to the art. The lions looked quite remarkable, though I was a little bothered that the looked like humans with lion faces and legs (walking upright with six-pack abs) more than lions. Even so, the artwork is to be admired. I wish the stories could be, likewise.
Looking for a good book? This graphic novel, Tales from Oz, reboots the Wizard of Oz series with teenage-boy-fantasy-looking women and love-struck-dumb males, but with not much story.
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Tales From Oz
authors: Joe Brusha, Dan Wickline, Meredith Finch, Shane McKenzie, Jeff Massey
artists: Noah Salonga, Miguel Mendonca, Dave Acosta & Luca Erbetta, Vincenzo Federici, Rolando Di Sessa, Glauber Matos
publisher: Zenescope Entertainment
paperback, 160 pages