REVIEW: ‘The O.Z.’ Issue #2

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The O.Z. #2 - But Why Tho

The O.Z. #2 is written by David Pepose, illustrated by Ruben Rojas, colored by Whitney Cogar, and lettered by DC Hopkins. Picking up where the first issue left off, the comic finds Dorothy Gale – alongside Toto and the Tin Man – attempting to assassinate the Scarecrow, who’s become a malevolent tyrant. However, the mission goes south as Dorothy is still dealing with lingering PTSD from her service in Iraq. When Dorothy and her friends learn that the Scarecrow is seeking the silver slippers that Glinda the Good Witch once possessed, they embark on a journey to retrieve the slippers before he does – and encounter the Prince of Lions, son of the Courageous (formerly Cowardly) Lion.

What drew me to The O.Z. was how it took a post-apocalyptic approach to many of the beloved characters from The Wizard of Oz, but did so in a way that made sense. One of my favorite writers of all time, J. Michael Straczynski, came up with a theory I call the “Principality of Power”; power, like wealth or influence, tends to enhance someone’s positive or negative traits.

In The O.Z. #2, Pepose utilizes this theory to great effect, showcasing how the inhabitants of Oz have used their gifts for good or ill. The Tin Man’s heart allows him to grieve for the people he’s lost in battle, while the Scarecrow’s mind has made him an all-seeing threat – he’s able to spy on his enemies wherever there’s straw around. And true to his name, the Courageous Lion perished in a battle to protect his kingdom.

More importantly, Pepose continues to examine the toll that war takes on a person, both while it’s ongoing and when it ends. Saddled with the task of assassinating the Scarecrow, Dorothy freezes up at a critical juncture; she later admits that she’s having trouble putting her experiences in Iraq past her. While PTSD has been discussed in other military fiction, it’s done with a level of care that almost makes the reader forget they’ve picked up a comic where the

The O.Z. #2 also happens to be a gorgeous book, courtesy of the art team. Rojas gets to draw new characters including the Prince of Lions, who sports African-styled garments including a wooden mask that covers his face, and the Scarecrow’s right-hand man Jack Pumpkinhead – whose flying glider and pumpkin bombs may bring a certain Spider-Man foe to mind.

The action sequences also feel ripped from a war film, as Dorothy has to leap from rooftop to rooftop to avoid Jack – even triggering IEDs she’s placed on the ground to cover her tracks. And Cogar’s colors show how Oz has changed; the Enchanted Forest, once a flourishing font of fauna, has become an irradiated wasteland after the Scarecrow’s battle with Glinda, wrapped in clouds of greenish-grey smoke. That same sense of color permeates Hopkins’ word balloons; the Scarecrow’s straw soldiers have black and white jagged word balloons that hint at their inhuman nature.

The O.Z. #2 continues to build out its post-apocalyptic take on The Wizard of Oz while exploring the past and present horrors of war. With only one more issue left in the series, I hope that Kickstarter backers will continue their support for the series because I’m genuinely curious to see how this all ends.

The O.Z. #2 was funded via Kickstarter.


The O.Z. #2
4.5

TL;DR

The O.Z. #2 continues to build out its post-apocalyptic take on The Wizard of Oz while exploring the past and present horrors of war. With only one more issue left in the series, I hope that Kickstarter backers will continue their support for the series because I’m genuinely curious to see how this all ends.