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Ozma of Oz

Publication Date: March 14, 2013

Chapter: The Wonderful Comics of Oz

"Ozma of Oz" is the last entry in what I refer to as the "mainstream trilogy" of Oz books. After this, general knowledge of the books basically drops off a cliff. In any event, I'll be providing very short summaries to put the comics in context from here on out. In this case, the Nome King had the royal family of Ev enchanted into decorative objects, so Ozma rolled in to save 'em Dorothy also happened to be shipwrecked nearby, which strains my suspension of disbelief a tad, but whatever It's actually a great book, and a favorite of many.

Also, at this point, Baum stopped using Stan Lee-tastic adjectives, which bums me out. As such, I'm officially dubbing this book "The Uncanny Ozma of Oz," because basically anything can be "uncanny" these days.

I'd like to take this moment to mention the Marvel Oz comics again, because they're amazing. Written by Oz historian Eric Shanower and drawn by the simply incredible Skottie Young, this comic series is basically my new Oz canon, for several reasons. First, the art: though far more cartoony (and sometimes just plain twisted) than the original book illustrations, Young's art is stunningly beautiful and just oozing with personality. He's just a damn good ACTOR, if you know what I mean. There's not a wasted facial expression in the books, and it adds SO much more personality to the characters in this world. For example, when you look at Skottie's Ozma in "Ozma of Oz," you can still see the boy she used to be. Two panels in particular bring that home for me: one is a flashback, showing Ozma sitting on her throne for the first time, looking utterly bewildered by the circumstances she finds herself in; two is when Dorothy is explaining to Ozma how to properly ride on the back of the Cowardly Lion, and Ozma has this look on her face like, "Lady, please. This isn't rocket science." The impatient, outspoken young boy is still bubbling beneath the surface of Young's Ozma, and it's awesome to behold.

Second, the writing: Shanower is both a comic book veteran and a hardcore Oz devotee, so a) he knows how to write comics really damn well, and b) he knows literally EVERYTHING about the Oz books and about the problems inherent to their text. Indeed, the original series is littered with inconsistencies both large and small, driving any continuity nerds insane. What Shanower has done with the comic series is nothing less than brilliance, in a very subtle way. While presenting all of Baum's stories mostly complete and very faithfully, he's patched up the holes in continuity as he goes along, ensuring consistency among all the books. It makes the series feel much more uniform and less hodge-podge. Shanower's scripts are basically the same as Baum's stories, but the contradictions between those stories have been eliminated. For what it's worth, Shanower has also polished the dialog as well to sound a bit more natural, as well as added a few choice scenes that only add to the finish product.

My point is, you should be supporting Marvel's Oz comics. I continue to be amazed that they actually exist, honestly, but Marvel is letting Eric and Skottie run with it, so bless their giant corporate hearts. Here's hoping they make it through all 14 books (and do Sky Island while they're at it).

Note that if I've peaked your interest, the first four books are already collected in trades, and the fifth book just wrapped up as single issues, so a trade should be coming soon.

Author: L. Frank Baum • Year: 1907 • Info: Tor Online

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