Review: The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West #2

This is the best written Zenescope book I've read. Unfortunately, as I learned after I made that assessment, it's actually an Aspen title. I guess I should have been able to tell from the jump (in more ways than just having noticed the publisher logo). The cover and interiors, while featuring action hero female gender swaps of literary characters, have a distinct lack of bared cleavage. The writing, while slight and featuring only functional cleverness, at least made swings at using the preexisting source material's subject matter in mildly imaginative ways. It's a Zenescope book in all ways but that ineffable quality that makes those titles push past disposable shelf clutter to early stage offensiveness.

LegendofOz-02a-BorgesUnfortunately, comparing 'Legend of Oz: The Wicked West' to content that is worse is the best I can do. It amazes me that we still see books like this get released, and wonder where this intended audience is. It's not painful to read, but it's not media, it's ephemera, here to be tossed out and forgotten immediately. Almost nothing happens this entire issue, except performing the one function books of this nature are crafted to do; take iconic, public domain source material and use basic word play to 'genrefy it' with no end goal in mind. Not to say all of the ideas are totally rote; the Scarecrow in this world is a seemingly normal Native American woman who when injured reveals herself to be a technically lifeless puppet. That's just odd enough to feel like the writer was doing a little more than just stringing wordplay together. Others, have been done previously in the long history of 'reimagined' property exploitation ('Legend's Tin Man is a sheriff, his 'tin' being his badge, a play-on-words previously utilized in the more memorable Sci Fi miniseries 'Tin Man'). There's not much personality, negligent storytelling, and everything leans dangerously on the novelty derived from the premise. Who walks into a comic shop and gets inspired to pay $4.00 on books like this when Marvel and DC's worst can at least claim more polish?

Certainly not for the art. The aforementioned Zenescope has run a tidy business selling softcore pornographic prints that happen to have 22 pages of worthless paper stapled to the back of it. With 'Legend of Oz', the covers are passable but don't have the primate allure of T&A. The interiors are very Zenescope, utilitarian, ugly, and with the neutral loveless feeling of an assembly line. The linework isn't even as much of a problem as the colors are, garishly toned and feeling like a rush job for a small paycheck.

It's far from the worst thing I've read; it's not even the worst thing I read this week, but who are these kinds of books made for? They must make some kind of money, because non-Big Two publishers keep printing them, but these are the kinds of books that don't even get resold by comic dealers at conventions when they are trying to dump their least successful stock. Reading bad comics is never fun, but it almost feels worse when you read a mediocre one that feels like it was designed to be clutter.

Score: 2/5

The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West #2 Writer: Tom Hutchison Artist: Alisson Borges Publisher: Aspen/Big Dog Ink Price: $3.99 Release Date: 11/4/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital