Review: ‘The O.Z.’ #1 Presents A Bold New Take On This Classic Tale

by James Ferguson


You might think you know the Wizard of Oz, but you’ve never seen it like this. The O.Z. uses this classic story as a foundation, building up an impressive new and fascinating take on these characters we’ve known for generations.


Everyone knows the story of the Wizard of Oz. Some of us have even been emotionally scarred by the creepy Disney follow up, Return to Oz. What happened after that though? You can’t just leave a magical land full of flying monkeys and munchkins and just go back to normal. The O.Z. answers that question in style, reinvigorating these classic characters in a bold new direction.

Writer David Pepose starts with the basics and moves the timeline forward. Dorothy is an old woman now, rambling about her time in Oz and no one believes her, especially her granddaughter of the same name. When a tornado sweeps up the new Dorothy and takes her to this faraway land, she learns everything her grandmother said was true. She pulls from her military background to fight back against hordes of flying monkeys and other miscreants. Dorothy was without purpose and suddenly she has a mission.

These familiar characters take a dark turn as we learn what happened with the power vacuum left in the Wicked Witch’s defeat. You know what they say about absolute power and that’s true for even the noblest of creatures in Oz. I have to say, I was surprised at these twists and turns and what it means for the rest of this story. It’s brimming with potential and this oversized debut issue packs quite a punch. There is a fair amount of exposition, but it’s riveting stuff so it never felt like a history lesson.

Artist Ruben Rojas takes what we know and love about these characters and creates new and interesting versions for The O.Z. The core essence of them remains, but there’s much more added to them. For example, the Tin Man is more of a soldier, like a smaller version of the Iron Giant. He has an honorable look to him, but you can tell he’s seen some shit.

A favorite in this issue is definitely the flying monkeys. These little guys are like pint-sized commandos, soaring into combat carrying bombs with crazy stuff drawn on them.

Colorist Whitney Cogar mixes the wonder and awe of Oz with a bit of a dystopian vibe. The bright colors of the yellow brick road are replaced with dingy oranges and browns. This changes a bit when magic pops up, casting a frightening green glow on everything nearby. You can tell that there’s something otherworldly going on when that shade pops up.

Letterer DC Hopkins matches up to this perfectly, using some unique fonts for the more magical characters without overdoing it. Each character has a unique voice and that shines through in their dialogue. The sound effects are also on point, amplifying the action in the fight scenes.

The O.Z. could have coasted by on nostalgia and a few quips. Instead, it uses the original material as a foundation, building a vast new story that’s really exciting to dig into. It shows that not ever tale has a happy ending. Sometimes it’s just the prologue for the pitfalls that follow.

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