Written by David Pepose
Art by Ruben Rojas
Colors by Whitney Cogar
Letters by DC Hopkins
This is a review mostly looking at the recently released Kickstarter comic The O.Z. #2. However, as I have not previously covered issue #1, there will be some review of that as well as some spoilers for issue #1.
How the story is solicited: “What if The Hurt Locker took place in The Wizard of Oz? Find out in The O.Z., an action-packed fantasy comic series from Ringo Award-nominated writer David Pepose (Spencer & Locke, Going to the Chapel, Scout’s Honor) and superstar artist Ruben Rojas (Proton) that transforms a childhood classic into a war story for the ages. Returning to Kickstarter with our double-sized, 44-page second chapter, this campaign is dedicated to bringing this adrenaline-fueled twist on L. Frank Baum’s iconic Oz novels to life. Fans of Mad Max: Fury Road, The Old Guard, and Fables will not want to miss out on The O.Z.“
This is a comic that will make you simultaneously want to clap, whoop, and cry and be so damn happy with the payoff – and it’s not done yet.
I was not a huge Wizard of Oz fan growing up, but I had seen it and enjoyed the fun and fantastical world that it was. Reading The O.Z. you get such clever nods to the Wizard of O.Z. and a really not-so-far-fetched idea of what might have happened next in Oz. Each issue of The O.Z. contains 2 chapters of the story and brings you on an emotional ride from start to finish. Issue #1 introduces us to Dorothy, the granddaughter of the original Dorothy, who is an Iraqi war veteran. From speaking with David in the past, he talked about how he spoke with combat veterans to discuss issues with reintegrating into society and dealing with PTSD. That research really pays off in his character development of the younger Dorothy, who is struggling with her life back in Kansas. Because of her background, she is very hesitant to join in on another war, until that war is thrust right in front of her and she’s reliving events that happened in Iraq. However, Dorothy is, after all, the descendent of the Dorothy that saved Oz from the wicked witch and this is her fight.
There are so many twists and turns in this story that you will be holding on for dear life as you are brought through the world and experience dive-bomb attacks from flying monkeys, ambushes from a goblin-esque Pumpkinhead, and an endless supply of strawmen that give their life for their tyrant king. As we found out in issue #1, Toto is alive and back with a vengeance. This reveal was such a fun and emotional reveal for both the reader and for Dorothy. Now Toto is the magical leader behind the resistance and you will not be disappointed in how much Toto content we get in this issue.
I absolutely love how good of a villain the Scarecrow has become and how his character represents what unabashed genius and limitless power might do to someone. Both issues have some really emotional surprises and reveals that will leave both fans and non-fans of The Wizard of Oz, alike, smiling, laughing, and crying. Without revealing how or where, we get a flarking fastball special in this story that is so well-timed and executed, that you’d think Colossus and Wolverine were in the story.
If anything deserves to be a sequel to L. Frank Baum’s work, this is it. No other recreation or sequel quite holds a faerie flamethrower to this one. One thing that really takes this gritty story up a notch is the impeccable linework by artist Ruben Rojas. Not only is his style perfect for an explosive warzone, but he adapts this style for flashbacks, such as at the start of Chapter Four, “Where the Wild Things Are!” His lines are complemented by the immersive colors done by Whitney Cogar, whose colors adapt to a more muted tone in flashbacks, but shows the vibrancy of the Animal Kingdom, the abysmal firey and dusty nature of the occupied zone, and the shadowy nature of who the Scarecrow has become. Lastly, we have to talk about the amazing lettering job by DC Hopkins. Good lettering can always take a great story up to the next level, and that is exactly what DC does here. He has the right style of lettering down between all of the different scenes and action in the story.
David Peposed has been killing it with his comics from the gritty, adult version of Calvin and Hobbes called Spencer and Locke to Scout’s Honor from Aftershock Comics, and his upcoming Marvel writing in Savage Avengers, this is a series you will want to keep an eye on and read over and over.
Issue #2 of The O.Z. just released from its Kickstarter campaign. Issue #3 will be coming to Kickstarter later this year. If you missed out on Issue #1-2, keep an eye out for the third and final campaign for this wild story as we head into The Scarecrow War so you can get all 3 issues! Also, look to ww.davidpepose.com in the near future for access to the physical copies for sale when they become available.
10 out of 10 flying monkeys would recommend this story. (Just don’t tell them what happens to their king!)
Cover for Issue #2
Preview Pages of Issue #2: