I hate it when I do this, sit on a book that I've had for a while only to love it. I should have been talking about The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West #1 weeks ago, but instead I've only just read it. Usually anything Wizard of Oz related outside of the original movie I don't care for and that includes the original source material; but this is Big Dog Ink and a simple adaptation on a classic is anything but usual. This take on Oz sees a rough and tough Dorothy Gale and her horse Toto lost in the wild, wild west known as Oz and if that's not interesting enough... it only gets better. The book opens with Gale (as she prefers to be called) dreaming of the day three years ago when she was sucked into a tornado and delivered to Oz. Now she's following the gold brick road looking for the Emerald City, problem is that most people have stolen the Gold making the road difficult to navigate. Thankfully she has Toto, her ruby spurs and matching pistols. Along her travels she arrives at a strange town and is greeted by the scarecrows. While having a drink in the bar she's confronted by some outlaws that turn into flying monkeys. The bar fight spills out onto the street as these monkeys strike that flying Gorilla's try to get the best of Gale.
The first issue introduces the core cast that every one is familiar with when it comes to Oz, but does it more in a tip-of-the-hat manner than to just come out and say, "that's the Cowardly Lion!" This does two things for the story: 1) gets the introductions of these characters out-of-the-way and 2) switches up the meet and greet that they have so that the story can progress differently. It's a great way to do the introductions and the timing and duration of the meetings is just enough so that you know who they are, but short enough that you're not bored reading who they are. In fact I wonder if they'll even come out and say who's who as it's really un-needed. This is some of Tom Hutchinson's best writing and surpasses even the newest issue of Critter.
The art was a real treat as Hutchinson has a knack for finding talented artists that match his style of storytelling. This book introduces Allison Borges on art and Kate Finnegan on color. They do a wonderful job on the book and really create a very different world for Oz than the one you're used to. The western landscape seems more southwestern inspired, but that may play into the story later. Borges pencil's are very strong and she does a great job of drawing people and animals without either species suffering from lack of detail. Finnegan's colors a perfect for the book and she is quite a talent to have on the book.
This title just premiered at New York Comic Con over the weekend and I have to say I wish I picked up my copy there. Instead I will track it down via the internet or more than likely bugging my local comic shop to order it for its official release and so should you! This was a great book, not surprisingly great as Big Dog Ink has frankly never let me down. They really have a great balance of characters, story, art and sex appeal that a lot of other companies just can't seem to do. If you're not a fan of Oz adaptions (probably due to that Syfy crap mini-series) then I'm with you, but this book is taking only a dash of that and creating something fun and interesting with gun-play and action. What's not to love about that?