What’s up everyone! Welcome to Beyond The Panel. Coming at you today with talk about The O.Z. #1! From the minute this book was recommended to me, I had to give it a shot. It was not too long ago, actually about a week ago, that I had recently finished binge-watching Once Upon a Time. So this story was right up my alley. Mainly because there’s something so damn interesting about stories where they take something familiar, and run wild with the concept. They really did have me at “What if The Hurt Locker took place in The Wizard of Oz?”
From the start of this first issue they grab your attention through the telling of this Dorothy’s story. Ordinarily you are used to the Dorothy who lived a pretty average life before being swept away to the land of OZ. Though this time around we are following the story of a Dorothy who is a disillusioned Iraq war veteran. This part right here was bold, and I loved how this creative team approached the angle. Mainly because of the accuracy they took to the experience one would have during the time of war. Not to mention the experience of life after. It’s not easy, and it messes with you in ways that most people can’t comprehend too. Even in spite of the way I personally feel about war, I still felt something for Dorothy as the story was leading up to her journey to OZ.
Now the re-imagining of OZ into war-torn land of the Occupied Zone was definitely a sight to behold. This creative team took everything you knew about this world and flipped it on its head. Not the same army of monkeys, not at all the same scared scarecrow, and the Tin Man was something different entirely. I enjoyed every liberty they took to make this their own vision.
Which brings us to the journey to the O.Z., because that was quite the scene which unfolded. Especially for Dorothy’s introduction to this world. The minute she stepped foot onto the Occupied Zone, the intensity did not end there. It was fitting that she was just jumping from one battlefield into the next mentally. The perfect approach taken to also begin dissecting her mental state which only suffers when facing all the things which dig up past memories.
That said, what also left me very invested in this book was the quality work from this art team. Artists Ruben Rojas, and Whitney Cogar did an amazing job of breathing life into this world. The art was detailed, the characters were unique to this world, the colors were fitting for a war-torn land. You would expect bright colors to represent something fantastical, though the colors were chosen just right to immerse you in a grounded setting. Though this didn’t take away from what you could clearly see was magical in nature. Monkeys flying with bat wings and dropping bombs from the sky. The Tin Man now the Tin Soldier and decked out with all the things which should make an entity of his stature terrifying. I even loved the design of the big bad on the other end of the battlefield. It would have been too easy to just recreate the image of the Wicked Witch. No, they went for something a bit more inspiring of fear.
All in all, I was thoroughly impressed by the debut of The O.Z.. I had a feeling that this one was going to be full of potential and creativity, and was not let down once. There is beauty in the understanding that there is more than one way to tell these stories. And you can make something great when you allow these stories to influence your own.