In Review: Oz: Heart of Magic #2

Magic is everywhere in this Oz saga.

The covers: If you’re a fan of all things Oz, you’re going to need to track down all eight covers to this issue. The A cover created by Sean Chen and Hedwin Zaldivar is an outstanding frontpiece to start this issue. In the lower left center of the illustration Dorothy, still stuck in her blue form, wields two short blades before her offensively. On the left loyal Toto growls at an unseen foe. A beautiful skyline of the Emerald City is behind them and a giant image of Dorothy’s true face is in the upper right. Beautiful art and colors. Igor Vitorino and Mohan Sivakami created an action B cover. Blue skinned Dorothy uses her magic to cause an oversized nome warrior to explode, its rocky head and side blasting apart. I like the idea for this cover, but the angle, looking up at the characters, is awkward, leaving me wondering if it was magic or physical contact that injured the creature. The colors are also too dark. Much better is the Geebo Vigonte and Ivan Nunes C cover that has Dorothy standing before the Emerald City with two massive whirlpools of green energy around her hands. She looks exceptional, with her face telling the reader she’s ready to fight. The city is great and the bushes in the foreground are cool, with leaves caught in the tumult of her powers. Spectacular colors on this, too. The D cover is by Harvey Tolibao and Nunes. This features a massive image of the Nome King enjoying his pipe while sitting on a large stump-throne. He is magnificent! His rocky skin and colors are fantastic. Nunes’s colors bring him to life superbly. This is a cover to track down! There are also four Exclusive covers I couldn’t find images online. These are the Wizard World Philadelphia Exclusives (limited to 350/100 copies) by Keith Garvey and the San Diego Comic Con Cosplay Exclusives (limited to 350/175) by David Nakayama. Good luck, collectors! Overall grades: A A, B C-, C A-, and D A+

The story: This is a surprising beginning conceived by Dave Franchini and Terry Kavanagh, with Kavanagh writing this book. At the Gale family farm, Dorothy happily milks a cow and thinks to herself, ‘Everything so simple, the way it should be. Easy to understand, easy to do what pleases everyone, easy to do what’s right. Just easy. No battle for control. No unnecessary bloodshed. Just serve the land and it serves back.’ Auntie Em calls Dorothy and Henry to the house to eat. This joyful moment is interrupted by a surprising speaker. Page 3 takes the reader to a very different location before moving to Castlequarter, stronghold of the Nome King. Dorothy and her allies are dining with the king and his family to cement their joining in the quest to take down the impostor ruling Oz in Dorothy’s body. I like that not everyone is shown to agree with this unified force on Page 6. I love that Bartleby and his lost love are shown together and how there seems to be something amiss in their relationship. The Southern Outlands present a deadly obstacle for the heroes, as do some unexpected foes in Relocation “Village” One for the workers. The threats are strong and loses are suffered. The reveals on 19 are fantastic, showing the deviousness of the villains. The final three pages have the heroes reaching their goal and encountering a deadly obstacle. This story is moving forward at a good pace with several action sequences and villains reveling in their evil plots. Very enjoyable. Overall grade: A

The art: The first two pages of this book show artist Marcelo Mueller is as adept in creating the real world as he is in creating the fantastic. Auntie Em and Uncle Henry look great, the settings strong, the cow perfect, and Dorothy unbelievably attractive. The third page contains a practically full-paged splash with the heroine in a sumptuous new location. This is a spectacular image to bring the reader into Oz. Pages 4 and 5 have two panels between them with a vertical panel on the left showing Castlequarter and a large panel that goes across both pages showing a massive table with every character at it. What an excellent way to show the reader who’s who. For beings made of rock, the Nome King and his family look outstanding, with a visual aside and a tiny gesture speaking volumes. The setting on 7 is like a dream brought to life. The object on 8 will be familiar to anyone who has read the Baum books. Page 11 starts with a sensational character in a circular panel followed by some big action. Speaking of big action, 12 – 14 has some memorable graphic and magical occurrences. Returning to the action in the Outlands, Mueller has some terrific detailed work. The reveals on 19 are sensual and evil personified. The setting on 20 is epic and the final page is a jaw-dropper. This book looks great. Overall grade: A 

The colors: Leonardo Paciarotti’s colors have all the energy, flair, and whimsy I want for an Oz comic. The colors in Kansas are straight out of the state, with one character on Page 2 catching the eye at the bottom of the page. The dominance of blue, green, and pink on Page 3 instantly propel the reader into the setting. It’s very smart that Paciarotti’s colors Dorothy’s thought boxes in dark blue, making them an instant visual sign to the reader as to whose thoughts they are reading. The Nome King and his ilk look great with their many rocky shades. Page 7 has phenomenal colors. The flashback is colored in Sepia to age it. The reds and oranges on 12 – 14 increase the horrors. Overall grade: A

The letters: Maurizio Clausti of Arancia Stuido is responsible for the scene settings, narration, yells, dialogue, nome people’s speech, Bartleby’s unique speech, Fytor’s unique speech, whispered text, and the three word tease for next issue. Zenescope has always excelled at having a wide range of fonts in their books and this book is a perfect example. Using unique fonts for different races is outstanding and the scene settings resemble classic fonts from fairy tales. I am pleased to see the narration is differed from the dialogue; this is a telltale sign of a superior letterer. Overall grade: A

The final line: You don’t have to be swept up by a tornado to get to Oz — just pick up this book! The adventures are much more mature than the familiar books, but are undeniably entertaining. The visuals are epic, heroic, and frightening. Magic is everywhere in this Oz saga. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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