31 October 2017

Return to Oz: The Marvelous Land of Oz by Eric Shanower & Skottie Young

Comic hardcover, n.pag.
Published 2010 (contents: 2010)

Acquired August 2012
Read September 2016
The Marvelous Land of Oz
Adapted from the novel by L. Frank Baum 

Writer: Eric Shanower
Artist: Skottie Young
Colorist: Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Letterer: Jeff Eckleberry

Like I said in my review of Eric Shanower and Skottie Young's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the pleasure of these Marvel Oz adaptations is in getting the familiar and the new all at once: the L. Frank Baum plots I remember from childhood, coupled with dynamic new Skottie Young illustrations. In that regard, The Marvelous Land of Oz is probably the most successful of all the Marvel Oz comics. Marvelous Land has a decent plot, less meandering than some of Baum's travel narratives, with a real antagonist (or pair of antagonists, General Jinjur and Mombi) and set of goals for our heroes (restore the throne of Oz). Tip is a fun protagonist, too, an easygoing young boy with a good fairytale backstory (oppressed servant of an evil witch, though of course it turns out to be more complicated than that). There's some random traveling, too, of course (the bit where they end up flying over the desert has always seemed a bit arbitrary to me), but moreso than many other Oz novels, this one is about overcoming a specific problem.

What Marvelous Land has in spades are visually interesting characters: the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman return, of course, and then Baum adds Jack Pumpkinhead, the Sawhorse, the Gump, and H. M. Wogglebug T.E. Each of these gives Young something to work with-- I love, for example, the way he draws the Sawhorse, as a sleek single piece of wood with these deep eyes and slightly ajar mouth that make him look like a loyal dog:
from The Marvelous Land of Oz #2

The weirdness of its characters is fundamental to my enjoyment of the Oz books:
from The Marvelous Land of Oz #6

These are books where the weird and misfits are the exalted and the clever, and in none of them is that better depicted than in Marvelous Land, and Skottie Young captures that perfectly. (Plus I love the way he draws Mombi.)

from The Marvelous Land of Oz #8
Next Week: Dorothy returns to Oz and meets a whole new crew of weirdos in Ozma of Oz!

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