Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Dorothy in the Mild, Mild West

The Legend of Oz:  The Wicked West
Written by Tom Hutchison
Illustrated by Alisson Borges
Published by Big Dog Ink
3 Out of 5 Stars

Three childhood stories whose magic is lost on me: The Chronicles of Narnia, Alice in Wonderland, and The Wizard of Oz. I really, really detest every single one of them. In fact, there's something I generally dislike about threshold stories in which the "looking glass" between fantasy and reality is shattered by the curiosity of a child. While I'm sure there's some sort of Freudian field day to be had with this admission, I shall not speculate on why these tales failed to flip my imagination switch as a youngster.

So why am I stating this? Because when Dave, the owner of my local comic book shop, tried to get me to read this, I shook my head vehemently, made the sign of the cross, tried to back away. I may have even hissed. But he suckered me in with the "but it's a Western" angle. So I relented. And it wasn't as bad as I anticipated; however, it also wasn't as great as I had hoped. Still, for me to give a 3 star to Oz related material is a big damn deal.

The artwork is beautiful in a traditional sense, but takes very few risks. While conventional in other ways, I was particularly glad to see that, other than Dorothy being a little booty-licious in a few frames, the women aren't oversexed pin-ups for folks with fairy tale dame fetishes (the zeal shown for T & A of epic proportions was one of my main problems with Hutchison's Penny for Your Soul, also published by Big Dog Ink). Unfortunately, the story also takes few risks. There are some clever ideas (I really loved the Native American mysticism of the "scare crow") and some not so clever (such as making the Tin Man a lawman, an idea that might have struck me as brilliant if I hadn't seen it in SyFy's own Wizard of Oz re-imagining a few years back, which was actually titled Tin Man).

Basically, this is Oz in the West--same basic plot structure, same basic characters, and very few surprises. It's fun, but really doesn't develop the story in a new or complex way. Hardcore Oz aficionados would probably enjoy it, but, while I liked it, I won't be continuing the series.

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