Aug 19, 2014

[Comics] The Emerald City of Oz

Over the past few years, I've been happily enjoying the various Marvel comic books based on the ever famous Oz books written by L Frank Baum. The team of Eric Shanower and Skottie Young had churned out issue after amazing issue of these comics that have been a sheer delight to read and pretty much just experience. They've been the kind of comics that just reach directly into your heart and give your inner child something to celebrate.

The Emerald City of Oz, unfortunately, represents the final comic title to be released in this series. For one reason or another, it seems Marvel is moving on from this series of Oz adaptations and this is the last of the projects in this series, at least for the foreseeable future.

More than anything, I'm glad that I got into these comics as a whole. From my perspective, this title really helped put Skottie Young on the map, as it were, or at least really helped increase his level of exposure to the level that we can all celebrate his art.

And ultimately, these books are all just lovely.

Synopsis: The Emerald City of Oz is the Marvel Comics adaptation of the L .Frank Baum children's book of the same name. It was written by Eric Shanower with art by Skottie Young and ran for 5 issues.

As with many other Oz stories, things start back in Kansas with frequent Oz visitor Dorothy Gale. Given all of her adventures in Oz, she's actually shared a lot about them with her foster parents, Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, although they've never really believed her. But when mounting debts threaten their lives with the risk of creditors taking back the farm, Dorothy suggests that they all move to Oz instead. Thus Ozma uses the powers of the Magic Belt that they had taken from the Nome King to transport all of them to Oz and gives them all a place to stay in the Emerald City.

And while Aunt Em and Uncle Henry try to come to terms to the magical nature of Oz and its inhabitants, the Nome King Roquat continues to plot his revenge against Oz and to find a way to get his Magic Belt back. In his desire to not just defeat the Ozians but also find a way to embarrass them thoroughly, things eventually fall upon the shoulders of the newly promoted general Guph to develop a plan to do just that. Thus Guph goes on a little mission of his own to recruit various races who are also against Oz in order to gather a large enough army to take the Emerald City.

Compared to prior Oz books, this one certainly had a rather focused story at its core. As much as the Ozians continue to have a rather relaxed and typical Oz story flow where they meet different people and focus on Aunt Em and Uncle Henry just taking all of Oz in. On the flip side we have the big plan of the Nome King and his forces, which is highly focused and quit the straightforward narrative.

The gathering of the Nome King's army is also quite the colorful illustration of the diversity of different Ozians. As much as we see this in ever Oz story, I guess the narrative focus really helps things along as well. Plus we also have Aunt Em and Uncle Henry on their own little tour of Oz even with even more colorful creatures like the living paper dolls or the unusual jigsaw puzzle people. The list goes on and on and it seems that this particular book became quite the creative venture with some wonderful ideas for unique inhabitants of Oz.

I think the fact that this story was told in a mere 5 issues instead of up to 8 issues as seen in prior Marvel Oz comics helped keep things rather focused and didn't have certain scenes getting dragged out longer than needed. As much as I enjoy seeing more of Skottie Young's art, even Shanower's skilled writing can only keep pace with things for so long. The trick about such adaptations is the need to figure out how to edit down to a story that works for the medium. And this book felt like it really benefited from its brevity.

The Emerald City of Oz does make for a nice end to the Marvel Oz comics as a whole and is a solid enough story on its own. It's not something that I'll forget anytime soon and I will be forever grateful to Shanower and Young for bringing these Oz books to life in an amazing way. Thus the final arc gets 5 color Ozians out of a possible 5.

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