Comic Review: Dorothy Of Oz Prequel #1
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Dorothy Of Oz Prequel #1
Written By Denton J. Tipton
Art by Blair Shedd
Colors by Joana Lafuente
Letters by Neil Uyetake
Cover by Eric Shanower
Variant covers: variant CGI character art
IDW Publishing
Release Date: March 28, 2012
Cover price: $3.99

Upon receiving my copy of Dorothy Of Oz Prequel #1, aside from obviously having a connection to The Wizard Of Oz, I was thinking of how this title sounded really familiar. Then I remembered that we covered the panel at last summer’s San Diego Comic-Con for the upcoming animated film Dorothy Of Oz, which has a great voice cast with actors like Patrick Stewart, Dan Aykroyd, Martin Short, and Kelsey Grammer. The animated film is based on the book of the same name by writer Roger S. Baum, who’s the great-grandson of original Oz creator L. Frank Baum.

In the animated film, everyone’s favorite gal from Kansas, the young Dorothy, returns home to her tornado-ravaged town after her magical journey to Oz and then finds a way to make it back to Oz. Dorothy Of Oz Prequel, which is the first installment in a four-issue miniseries from IDW Publishing, is a prelude to the events of the film and tells the tale of what happened in Oz after Dorothy left, which makes it necessary for her to return.

Dorothy Of Oz Prequel #1 is a very quick read. We’re introduced to a wicked Jester (who Martin Short will voice in the film) and learn a little bit about who he is — or, at least, who he says he is. He takes over the deceased Wicked Witch Of The West’s flying-monkey-filled castle and immediately starts in on an extreme home makeover. But interior design is not the only thing on the Jester’s agenda. He has a plan to gain more power and to take over Oz!

While we apparently won’t be seeing Dorothy in this series, this issue reacquaints us with popular Wizard Of Oz characters like the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion, as well as the aforementioned flying monkeys. While there’s a decent amount of dialogue in this issue by writer Denton J. Tipton, the story goes by entertainingly quick, where when you get to the last page, you can’t believe it’s over already. In the first scene with the Jester, it’s obvious that he’s going to be an interesting character and I really enjoyed being introduced to him – he’s definitely going to be a formidable foe for Dorothy’s friends.

The Jester also comes across as quite menacing thanks to the great art by Blair Shedd. While Shedd obviously can’t get too creative while drawing Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion, the look of the Jester and the flying monkeys is really great and the colors by Joana Lafuente succeed in enhancing the look of the evil characters, as well as the majesty of the Emerald City. The artwork is more of a traditional cartoon style, which I prefer (the film is CG-animated; the issue’s variant cover has the CG art) and the tone and shades remind me of the 1990s animated television series Gargoyles. Shout-out to artist Eric Shanower, who did the art for the main cover, with Lafuente doing the colors – absolutely love it!

Making off-shoots to popular properties isn’t always such an easy task. Yes, there’s a built-in audience, but there’s also a lot to live up to. Gregory Maguire’s Wicked novel series, based on the life of the Wicked Witch of the West, is top quality and Baum’s Dorothy Of Oz is a wonderful continuation of his ancestor’s source material. While, admittedly, I wasn’t all too interested in the Dorothy Of Oz film after hearing about it at Comic-Con, this first issue of the prequel comic has put the world of Oz back on my radar and has left me wondering what actually did happen in Oz during Dorothy’s hiatus.

Dorothy Of Oz Prequel #1 is an easy read, with pleasing art, that would be a fun for all fans of the world of Oz. You should definitely jump onto this four-issue miniseries, which will be released in trade paperback form in June (the film is due out in theaters in August). For now, you can get the single issues at your local comic book shop or order Issue #1 (and pre-order #2-#4 while you’re at it; it’s on sale for less than the cover price) at TFAW. You can read the first few pages of Dorothy Of Oz Prequel #1 here below.


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