In Review: Oz: Heart of Magic #3

Oz loses its physical heart in this issue and it's a stunner.

The covers: Five frontpieces to find if you need to have all from Oz. The A cover is by Igor Vitorino and Ivan Nunes and is an outstanding image of Dorothy in her blue skin. She’s holding her sword in her right hand like Zatoichi and has her left held up to conjure a spell that creates a stream of green wind that circles all about her. She and her spell stand out against the orange and tan colored cliffs behind her. Beautiful! An action cover is found on the B by Michael Sta. Maria and Hedwin Zaldivar. The Wizard is leaping down upon Glinda who’s falling backwards under the force of the magic exploding from this right hand. He holds a staff engulfed in green flame high in his left, readying it to smash upon her. Nearby is Ann looking to defend Glinda. This is nice, but the colors are too similar on the Wizard and Ann, making them blur together a little, and even Glinda’s whites are lessened. Just a titch too dark for me. The C by Jason Cardy is a complete change of style for a Zenescope cover and I like it. This cover focuses wholly on Glinda done in the style of a Disney princess. She looks great as she holds her sparkling wand forward in her left hand. Notice how the O in Oz gives her halo effect — I don’t know if it was intended, but it looks cool! The colors on this highlight her otherworldly and pure soul. The D by Harvey Tolibao and Nunes has two characters braced for attack as they are surrounded by several spears emerging from both sides and the bottom. Thorne has a large dagger in his right hand, but he looks more terrifying than this blade. Fytor stands in front of him with fists held ready to take down the first man down that approaches him. I’m not surprised to see Thorne like this, but Fytor surprised me for him looking so aggressive. Both characters are impeccably detailed and the colors are to die for, but the Tin Man in attack mode is a shocker. The colors also are two similar between the characters, making them blend too much like the B cover. There’s also a San Diego Comic Con Cosplay Exclusive (limited to 50 copies) by Eric Basaldua, but I couldn’t find an image of it online. Good luck, collectors! Overall grades: A A+, B C+, C A, and D C+

The story: In the Emerald City, where the drillnaughts continue to burrow under the city to mine its green magic, the mad Wizard wakes his lover Ann Soforth. She warns him that it’s only a matter of time before the citizens realize he’s not Dorothy and that the actually queen of Oz returns with Glinda and Adraste to battle them. He’s not worried because he’s created obstacles to stop them. Currently the heroes are battling a gigantic automaton, with Llana and Aleen killed by the creature and the Nome King stomped under its monstrous foot. Dorothy wants to reason with the creature, but the others disagree and try to beat the thing back. This is a long battle and I’m grateful for it because these types of conflicts are often rushed in comics to get to the next obstacle; this fight is much more believable because it took time, something comics don’t often give. There’s a great reveal/entrance on 12 followed by someone in the Emerald City starting to believe that something may be wrong with the kingdom’s rulers. The way the robotic monster is taken down is clever, effective, and very emotional. It’s not how I though the thing could be bested and I was impressed with a character’s actions to defeat it. Just as the heroes move on to their next destination they encounter another massive threat, but this time a pair of them. Their fates are left as a cliffhanger because the book returns to the Emerald City where something incredibly surprising occurs. This tale was developed by Dave Franchini and Terry Kavanagh, with Kavanagh writing it. There is a lot of action in this issue, plenty of heart, and wonderfully horrible villains. Overall grade: A

The art: Marcelo Mueller does an excellent job on this book’s visuals. I really like that he can create so much in this issue and delivers it to the reader from every possible angle. The first panel looks like a scene from a science fiction book with the massive drillnaughts burrowing into the ground as terrifying guards protecting them as they work. The Emerald City is barely visible behind this machine’s efforts, but is fully revealed in the second panel. Notice how Mueller tilts the perspective for this introduction, making it seem as though the city has become askew due to the drilling terror. The Wizard watches the work from a balcony wearing only a robe, while Ann stirs in their bedchamber. They are both attractive, making their evil deeds easier to accumulate. The heroes battle with the metal monster starts on Pages 2 and 3 which is a double-paged splash that also includes two smaller panels of characters’ reactions. This monster’s design is neat, with the eyeballs on its knees and wrists a great touch. I like how every character gets a swing at the creature, allowing time for them to get a standout moment and to show how ineffective their actions are. I am a fan of circular panels that show a character in close-up and there’s a really neat one on Page 5. A character has a cool looking fall on Page 6. An evil plan is started on 8 and Mueller has the evil items and characters done in silhouette and it’s creepy. The fourth panel on 9 is small but very startling even though the reader knows something bad is going to happen. The first panel on 12 is terrific, with only heroic music missing at this arrival. The final panel on 14 is set off by a lot of black space to its left giving it a moment of dark clarity. The giant robot is often shown with the reader looking up to it, as the characters do, and there is a panel on 15 and 16 that really do an excellent job in making the creature look mountain sized. The double-paged splash on 20 and 21 is a great way to leave the heroes’ fate in doubt, while the final page had me wondering how the characters can ever recover from this loss. It’s a great image with the villain shown from a terrific point of view. Overall grade: A

The colors: Oranges and greens dominate in this issue. The first color is the shade of the robot that attacks the heroes and the latter is the color of the Emerald City and its magic. Leonardo Paciarotti does a good job with this issue. A red-orange is used for the the location on 7 which emphasizes of the warmth of the host. Notice how the colors darken at this setting when an evil plan goes into effect. The last panel on 9 has the colors go a dark blue, showing that the red-orange has been killed. Dorothy’s fake flesh has a vivid blue which has her stand out as the orange automaton attacks. Every shade of gray is used for two characters on 12 and they look cool. Overall grade: A

The letters: Maurizio Clausi of Arancia Studio creates scene settings and character identifiers, dialogue, yells, Fytor’s unique speech, sounds, screams, Bartleby’s speech, distant text, and the three word tease for each issue. Praises must be sung of this book’s scene settings and character identifiers. They are done in a large script that uses lower case letters and looks as though they are used to introduce a fairy tale. They are entirely appropriate for this book and demand attention whenever they appear. The dialogue is a little small, and it’s understandable because there is an awful lot of it at times, so Clausi does the best job possible. Fytor and Bartleby have their own unique looking speech fonts, which is marvelous; it furthers them from humanity and makes them one of a kind marvels. There are some neat sounds during the fighting and several yells and screams accompany this action. I really like the yell a character gives as he falls. Overall grade: B+

The final line: Oz loses its physical heart in this issue and it’s a stunner. There’s also a great battle in this book, with every character getting a moment, with one making the ultimate sacrifice. The visuals are really good, with varied points of view to exploit every moment of action and highlight characters making a stand. This modern day Oz tale charts a thrilling new path for these beloved characters. 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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