Saturday, July 31, 2010

Welcome to Ozopolis!

One Ozzy project I wanted to track down at Comic Con last weekend was the new comic Ozopolis.

I had seen the cover and a short preview on-line, and it looked "promising." I usually pay little attention to new Oz comics as there are so many these days and sadly most are "revamps" and "updates," many of which turn Oz into a dark, psychotic land of mayhem and bloodshed. But when I looked at the online preview and saw the depictions of the Wizard with his typical Neill temple curls and saw the Woozy had a starring role, my curiosity was piqued.

Happily, Ozopolis has exceeded my "promising" expectations and is an utterly charming new Oz story. Writer Kirk Kushin and artist Gonzalo Martinez have produced a very engaging story. It feels fresh, new, and absolutely right. It is the Oz we all know and love. Ozma sounds like Ozma, the glass cat behaves like the glass cat, and Kushin clearly knows and loves Baum's Oz books very much.

One of the few bows to modernity is a clothing update for Dorothy and Ozma. Dorothy gets shorts, t-shirt, sneakers, and a little Ozzy jacket; and Ozma has traded in her flowing negligee-style gown for a slightly General Jinjuresque uniform. But uniform aside, Ozma's character is right on target. She's lovely, has a fondness for protocol, very warm, but a bit opaque.

The plot in this issue revolves around the Queen of the Field Mice asking Ozma for help dealing with some unusual wildcats. Since the problem is occurring in the deadly Poppy Field, Ozma sends three non-breathing Oz folk, Tik-tok, the Glass Cat, and the Sawhorse, on the mission. All three are smack-dab in character and are very funny. And when the Woozy is sent to rescue the rescuers, a hysterical moment occurs when the field mice can't remember the right word to make the Woozy's eyes flash fire.

In typical Baumian fashion, the "villain"of this issue is not as black as he seems. And while this issue has nice closure, a bigger threat remains to carry us on to future issues. I hope there will be many more to come.

Martinez's art for the issue is very good. The characters feel fresh and new, but will be wholly recognizable to Oz purists. It's a little cartoony (in a good way), yet advances the story, as good comic art should.

The one real blemish to the book is the number of typos and missing articles in the word balloons. Even a cursory proof-reading should have caught them. If the series continues and a trade is ever issued, I hope they will be corrected.

So, if you're hankering for a new Oz adventure, I happily suggest you try a short visit to Ozopolis!

You can see more previews and order copies at:


J. L. Bell said...

In addition to seeing John R. Neill’s inspiration in these visual characterizations, I see more than a little influence from one Eric Shanower.

Not that that’s ever a bad thing.

David Maxine said...

Eric's attempts at putting Dorothy in modern clothes certainly came to my mind, too: Pajamas, shorts, etc...

Gonzalo Martinez said...

I just wanted to thank you for such a good review.
Best wishes.

David Maxine said...

You're most welcome! I'm looking forward to the next issue!