In Review: Oz: The Wizard One-Shot

A solid beginning to a story, but there's no conclusion.

The covers: Five to track down, no hot air balloon required, for this one-shot. The A is by Sean Chen and Ivan Nunes and is the image I chose to accompany this review. Dorothy is standing proudly in the center foreground, holding the Staff of Zamora. Behind her are the towering, fanciful structures of the Emerald City. Above them, emerging from the sky, is the smiling twisted face of a man with glowing green eyes. Chen has placed many key elements from this story into this illustration and is to be congratulated for teasing much of the tale. Nunes is also deserving of praise for doing an outstanding job with the blues on the protagonist, the greens of the city, and the rose colored sky and its sinister specter. The B by Marc Rosete and Ceci de la Cruz features a very familiar evil face who’s been appearing in several Zenescope books stirring up trouble, especially in Grimm Fairy Tales. This wizard is clothed in green armor and a blue cloak. He’s holding a tall staff that has emerald energy whipping around it. He also holds a blue sphere which is emitting lightning. Bolts are emerging from all over this villain as he gazes at the reader. Great cover, though it does spoil who the baddie of the book is, but the illustration is tops and the colors are beautiful. I like what Rosete and de la Cruz have done on this. Josh Burns has created the C cover and it’s the “Good Girl” frontpiece for this one-shot. This shows Dorothy from the low left, with the character looking down and over a shoulder at the reader. She’s wearing a low cut white half top with a plaid blue corset and a short matching blue skirt. Her hair is blowing slightly from a breeze that’s also effecting the foliage around her, leaves are flying by and the tops of trees bend slightly, as she makes her way alone down the yellow brick road to the close by entrance to the Emerald City. Beautiful cover, with all aspects of the illustration great and the colors solid. This is one to track down. The heroes strike a pose on the D cover by Fritz Casas. Crossing over a fallen tree, Toto snarls at the reader. Behind him is Dorothy wielding a sword, and not wearing too much. Behind her is a girl in violet sporting a knife. Next to this woman is Bartelby the scarecrow, resembling something from a Freddy Krueger nightmare. Bringing up the rear is the giant sized Thorne, with a huge blade in his right hand. Behind the five are the towering structures of the Emerald City. This is a sensational image with dynamic colors. Definitely another cover to seek out. The final cover is the Motor City Comic Comic Con Exclusive by Derlis Santacruz and Ula Mos. This features a long haired brunette woman dressed as Doctor Strange, but with just enough changes to avoid any lawsuit, before the skyline of Detroit. The character looks good, the colors are bright, and the background is authentic. A decent cosplay cover, but not a spectacular one. Overall grades: A A, B A, C A, D A+, and Motor City Comic Con Exclusive C+

The story: Plotted by Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, and Dave Franchini, with the latter writing this tale, the book opens with a four paged history of all that’s occurred in Oz. This tale is told by Bartleby the scarecrow to a group of children. As soon as he’s done with the tale he tells the children to run home and Queen Dorothy arrives. She and the scarecrow return to the Emerald City, discussing several things. The story then shows a major player in the Oz Universe. Things take a turn when a boy who’s scratched up and bleeding makes his way to the entrance of the famous city and collapses. He tells his tale to the queen and that’s when the story begins to speed up. Action is taken and there’s a major reveal on Page 19. This was a solid surprise and throws several of the previous pages into question. There’s some great dialogue at the bottom of 22 that shows that someone is very different from how they’ve previously been portrayed. The villains of the issue are revealed on Page 25 and one of them is going to be very familiar to any reader that’s been following what’s been happening in the Grimm Fairy Tales series and its tie-ins. How a hero is taken down on 28 is very clever and absolutely perfect for Oz. I was happy to see that a situation is resolved on 31 and justification for a villain is revealed on the final page. However, there’s no conclusion to this tale. It’s a one-shot, but there’s no resolution. I can understand why, as it sets up troubles elsewhere, but all this book does is put the heroes in danger and leaves them there. Hopefully, a follow up series or one-shot solves the troubles for the heroes. Overall grade: B-

The art: Marcelo Mueller is the artist for this issue. The first four pages are a visual summary of what’s happened in the previous Oz books and Mueller does a solid job in giving readers the general idea of what’s occurred. The layout of these pages is neat because each panel looks like a jagged piece of crystal. The first page set in the present is fine, but there’s a lot of empty space at the top, with almost a quarter of the page being empty. Dorothy’s entrance and her walk with Bartleby are good, with Mueller leaving the perfect amount of space in each panel for the heavy dialogue the two speak. The character introduced on 8 looks great in the first panel and excellent throughout the book; Mueller really excels with this character. The introduction of the hurt child on 10 is equally well done. The last two panels on 19 are perfect because I had the same reaction as the protagonist has on 20. The visual change in a character’s demeanor on 22 is a solid tease of what’s to come from that individual. The change on 24 is good, but I didn’t know the identity of that character until 25 — that was a great full-paged splash. The change on 28 is great — I love the look of that character. The layout of 31 is neat, with the final panel being a good close for those individuals. The final page is a good visual cliffhanger, with that smile leaving the reader wanting to see it wiped from that face quickly. Overall grade: B 

The colors: Marco Lesko is the colorist and he does an okay job. The coloring in the opening flashback is well done because they look aged due to lighter colors used. Very nice. The full-paged splash that brings the reader to the present is a nice visual change up with the colors being incredibly bright; it’s akin to color appearing in the classic film for the first time. Page 10 uses colors to really make the tiny tyke pop off the page. For almost three pages that follow there’s a flashback that’s creepy, but the faded colors for certain panels don’t make sense. The brighter panels are much more dynamic and should have carried through the entire retelling. The double-paged splash of 17 and 18 again has faded colors taking the reading experience down a peg or two; I realize that the lighter colors are being used to establish distance and have the reader focus on the leads, but it’s not successful in doing so. The coloring on 28 is outstanding; that was a good way to further change the character’s visual for the reader and the others around this individual. Overall grade: C+

The letters: This was not a strong element of this issue. The dialogue by Saida Temofonte looks hand lettered, which is fine, but it’s very scratchy. It reminded me of lettering jobs on early independent comics of the 80’s. The sound effects are also a mixed bag, with all having scratchy, uneven line work. This can be done occasionally, but it’s used for every sound, even Toto’s growling. It needed to be varied. The yells from characters are better, with there being more than one type of yell, showing how loud the reader should consider the characters’ utterances. The final four words of the book are good, being strong block letters. It’s the awkward looking dialogue that I just can’t shake after reading this book. Overall grade: D+

The final line: A solid beginning to a story, but there’s no conclusion. This issue shows how Oz is effected by a villain that’s been running rampant in other books, and that’s good, but the heroes are still in peril by the conclusion. I would have preferred to see a conclusion. The visuals are fine, but the dialogue style comes across as lacking. This should have been a miniseries and not a one-shot. Overall grade: C

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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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