Group Review: Grimm Fairy Tales presents Oz #1

This is a big title for Zenescope and it’s hard not to fall in love with the covers, am I right? Well since we’ve yet to cover a Zenescope title as a group we decide to jump on board this issue. If you’re unfamiliar with the group review format, each of the writers/reviews of Comic Bastards gives the book a score of either: Buy, Borrow or Pass and then an explanation of why they chose that score. First, here’s a blurb about the book from Zenescope: At long last the last realm of power in the Grimm Fairy Tales universe is revealed…and there’s never been an Oz quite like this. This modern take on the story reimagines the classic fairy tale in the classic Zenescope style. The Witches of OZ are searching for a lost weapon of power known as the Veridian Scepter. Their quest leads them to the most unlikeliest of places…the farmlands of Kansas and the home of the unlikeliest of heroes…Dorothy Gale. With incredible cover art by superstars J Scott Campbell, Artgerm, EBAS and Ale Garza! The epic Oz adventure starts here.

OZ01_coverB 1Dustin: Buy

I actually went with a “buy” for this one because the series was different from what I thought it would be. Sure Dorothy was over sexualized, but it’s a Zenescope title and the cover tells you that much without even reading the issue. The thing is, I didn’t mind the characters and I enjoyed the take on Oz. Maybe I’m just in an Oz mood this year with so many adaptations coming out, but I kind of liked it. I’m really giving it a “buy” because I think it’s worth coming back and checking out another issue. Sure the art inside will never match the fantastic covers, but it wasn’t half bad either. Maybe it just caught me at the right time, but I’d say it’s worth a purchase and if you don’t like the story you can always just stare at the cover. Damn that cover is beautiful.

Samantha: Borrow

I have read a lot of these Grimm Fairy Tales by Zenescope and I think they do a pretty decent job. Personally the whole Oz scene is overdone for me though. The movie is a classic and honestly what can compare with that. This issue pretty much steps up the beginning of Wizard of Oz, so for the first issue I say borrow. It doesn’t offer anything more and I hoping the next issues will so keep your eye on them.

The art is average. Sorry to disappoint the boys but when I get tits shoved at me and undies hanging out of shorts on the cover I get turned off.  I can’t take her seriously. For the Wicked Witch a slut outfit works. But Dorothy should be reserved and saving some secrets from the audience. The tornado art was cool and the little people warriors are a nice twist.

I think once the Wicked Witch is in the comic it will explore more areas of Oz that we don’t know. We always want to know more about the witch and I don’t know why the waste our time setting up a story we already know.

OZ01_coverE 1Carl: Borrow

Two quick items to ponder: 1) Why the heck are there so many comics based on Oz? and, 2) The Dorothy on the cover of this book would not be a farmer—she would be doing naughty movies.  Seriously, you should see the illustration.  It will cause you to have naughty, naughty thoughts.

The issue starts with an old guy chased under moonlight by some nasties.  He’s wounded, so he sends his faithful wolf along with a very important package.  Jump to Dorothy Gale, a young woman who fights off a bull to save a dopey ranch hand.   Dorothy comes across the wolf and tames it with her feminine wiles.  She names the wolf Toto.

A mysterious stranger stops at the Gale farm; she’s tall, dark, and buxom.  She wants Toto, but Auntie M chases the woman away.  Can you guess who the woman turns out to be?  I won’t tell you.  But I will say that she sends a tornado on the Gale farm.  Dorothy ends up in Narnia.  Crap, I mean Oz.

The purpose of the book seems to be something akin to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.  The creators wanted to hide how mediocre the publication is by putting the lead females into skimpy outfits and purely objectifying them.  While that’s not always a bad thing, Oz simply doesn’t have much in the great story category to get me to want to keep reading.  Don’t get me wrong—the illustrations are amazing.  But they only get one so far.  The story does nothing to pick up the slack when the Wow!  Boobs! Factor wears off.

Steve: Pass

I just got finished writing a review for another book by this publisher (Screwed), and after now having read Oz, I think it’s time to step away from my great Zenoscope experiment and admit that it’s just not the place for me. The problem is that I actually like some of their properties, particularly the ones that act as the narrative spokes within the overall story that is beginning here in Oz #1. Mucking about with and then mixing the myths of Oz, Neverland and Wonderland sounds like an awesome idea; I mean, it’s like the Laff-A-Lympics of surreal fantasy! Still, no matter how hard they try, Zenoscope just can’t seem to get it right.

Casting Dorothy as some kind of heiress to an unnamed power here could be sublime, but the story (as always) feels over-saturated, inundated by too much eye candy and cheesecake with little-to-no substance. The stand-out in this one (if you do feel compelled to check it out), is the art of Rolando Di Sessa, whose stuff here comes together in a BIG way during the inevitable tornado scene. He does a fantastic job of visually controlling a chaos, which otherwise runs amok within the story.

OZ01_coverC 1Ed: Pass

I’ll cut to the chase: this one’s really not for me. Sorry Zenescope. I’m sure that regular Zenescope readers and especially the Grimm Fairy Tales fans amongst them will enjoy this as an expansion of that world and a continuation of the in-house comics formula. People who have tried Zenescope or GFT comics before and not got a kick out of them are unlikely to be won over by Oz but - to be fair - if you’ve never picked one up before then this is as good a place to start as any, working perfectly fine without prior knowledge of the setting.

Veteran comic readers won’t find much in Oz that sets it apart from the crowd. It’s a fairly standard reimagining of a classic story: taking core characters like Dorothy and Toto and making them more ‘adult’ (i.e. buxom girl in ‘Daisy Dukes’ and a badass wolf-dog respectively) then throwing them into a grittier, more brutal conception of the original Wizard of Oz mythos. The art is pretty inconsistent, looking rough and rushed on some pages but sharp on others like the tornado scene, while the characters don’t emote particularly well. Hopefully it will become more polished in future issues. There’s definitely an audience for comics like Oz but, like I said earlier, that audience doesn’t include me.

Score: 2 Borrows, 2 Passes and a Buy!

Writer: Joe Brusha

Artist: Rolando

Publisher: Zenescope Entertainment

Price: $3.99

Release Date: 7/3/13