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Book Review: The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West

Updated on October 25, 2011

I loved this twist on a classic.

Imagine, if you will, that L. Frank Baum's immortal children's classic The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and its blockbuster 1939 film adaptation starring Judy Garland have both been turned on their heads: Dorothy wears a wide-brimmed Stetson, sitting astride her faithful horse Toto. The ruby slippers are represented in a red sparkle from her spurs and the stocks of her six-shooters. Welcome to Oz: The Wicked West from Big Dog Ink.

I've already reviewed the first two issues of Big Dog Ink's Critter superhero series, and enjoyed them immensely. This latest offering is a horse of a very different color, but a welcome one. The original Wizard of Oz movie was a staple of my childhood as I think it probably was for most people, so I was excited to see what writer Tom Hutchison, artist Alisson Borges and colorist Kate Finnegan had in mind for it. I was delighted to find that this is yet another great romp of a comic, and a lot of fun for fun's sake.

I could go on about the differences from the original: the flying monkeys as outlaw gorillas, the "tin man" (that's a man with a tin star for a badge, in this case), the fact that the yellow brick road has been plundered by gold thieves...but what's really important here is that it's all so much fun! You recognize things just enough to make you chuckle, and the mixture of Western tropes into the story is done perfectly. There's a bit of violence (ever want to see Dorothy gun down the Wicked Witch's henchmen?), and hints of sex (Dorothy has a pretty nice hourglass figure here, all snugged up in riding breeches and a corset; she also runs across some saloon girls who seem to fancy her) that make this closer to a PG-13 than a G rating, but that's not a bad thing.

If I had one complaint, it would have to be this: For all the artist's skill at rendering everything else, the guns just don't look right. This may be a fantasy world rather than the wild frontier that we know fro a hundred cowboy pictures, but when you're doing a western you have got to get the guns right. We're treated to several closeup shots of Dorothy's six-shooters, and they're not authentic in appearance or proportion. It's a small thing, I admit, but it stuck out in such an otherwise great book.

Overall, this is definitely a series worth picking up. Enjoy!


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