Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Comic Review: Dorothy Of Oz-Prequel

IDW Publishing recently finished the comic book mini-series "prequel" to the upcoming Dorothy Of Oz animated movie(which is now retitled Legends Of Oz: Dorothy's Return). This 4-issue mini-series has been collected into a trade paperback, although you can kind of expect it to be re-released under the revised title sometime closer to the movie's premiere, now set for early 2014. It was written by IDW editor Denton J. Tipton, and drawn by Blair Shedd who previously worked on IDW's Doctor Who comics.

I need to point out before that the original concept for the movie was an adaptation of the book Dorothy Of Oz written by L. Frank Baum's great-grandson, Roger S. Baum. He's had another of his books Lion Of Oz turned into a made-for-video animated movie back in the early 2000s. The idea for Dorothy Of Oz was that a jester(called "Jester")had gotten a hold of the Wicked Witch of the West's old wand which possessed him and turned the land of Oz into a dark place. So, Dorothy comes back to Oz to remedy this, along with her old friends, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion. This was meant as kind of a sequel to the Wizard Of Oz book, although Ozma is featured in the book, making it mostly in canon with the original Baum novels. The comic and movie however act as a follow-up to the 1939 Wizard Of Oz movie, although set in modern day.

The comic opens in the Wicked Witch's castle where the character of the Jester appears and claims to be the Witch's brother. There's been several instances where one of the Witch's "siblings" appears to avenge their sister, such as Mombi being turned into her sister in Journey Back To Oz, but it seems a little forced that the Jester is just her brother that shows up out of nowhere. Anyway, he rallies the flying monkeys into taking the Witch's broom from the Emerald City, and them uses it as a new magic wand he merges with an orb. He causes a flood in Munchkinland, which causes the Munchkins to seek help from the Scarecrow who is now in charge of Oz. He along with Tin Man and Lion concur that they must call back Dorothy to help stop Jester. In order to do this, they try to activate one of the Wizard's old inventions, the Rainbow Mover. The three of them head to Quadling Country to seek advice from Glinda on how to obtain a rainbow for the machine, but have to walk around China Country as they've closed their borders in fear of the Jester. They make their way through the Candy Country, and are given advice from a helpful large owl named Wiser on using a prism for the Rainbow Mover. They manage to escape some of the flying monkeys, but the primates capture Glinda instead. Scarecrow then uses a prism to start up the machine, when the story cuts to Kansas as Dorothy is just waking up from her first night after the original twister, only to find their farm is being foreclosed.

The comic does take some liberties with what some of the characters were capable of, like Tin Man having Robocopvision, and Glinda just still staying in sidelines(even though they did show her reading from the Book Of Records). It was Tipton did a fair job with the story, but it seems more like a way to make some kind of a opening narrative to the movie. A lot "official movie prequel" comics don't really fit into the continuity of the finished product, partially because the film might have some last-minute rewrites. Because of this, this comic won't 100% fit into to movie's storyline, but is worth a look at least from an Oz fan's point of view, and a decent title for children. That and Shedd's artwork is exceptionally well suited for it.

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