For some time, I have held the very strong belief that there are five truly great comic books in the world. Arguable, yes. True? Yes. I’ll allow you to figure out which they are. I know it seems narrow minded to some, but the truth is, there is a great lack of imagination when it comes to the genre I love. That being said, I approached The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West series much as a child approaches brussel sprouts. With a certain knowledge that, while I had not experienced it, I was going to hate it.
As a member of the executive commit for the All Things Oz museum and the Oz-Stravaganza! Festival in Chittenango, NY – birthplace of L. Frank Baum – I was certain that the drudgery of this new spin on the classic tale was not going to delight me and my fellow Ozians, but rather disappoint and disillusion us. A western remake of L. Frank Baum’s most famous story in a comic book form. Indeed.
Yet I am amazed that as much of a fan of Oz as I am and as much of a comic book fan as well, I could be actually pleasantly surprised by a book. In fact the involuntary smile that crept upon my face was not unnoticed by others as I turned the pages of issue after issue.
What author Tom Hutchison has done is take a step back and imagine a world where Dorothy Gale is familiar while at the same time exhilaratingly fresh and new. A character we remember from a childhood fairy tale, all grown up. A sideways glance and a tip of the hat to L. Frank Baum and all that the OZ universe represents and a tale that captivates you from the first page.
Ruby spurs are not to be worn lightly, and travels that take you over the rainbow are never to be thought of as frivolous. What Hutchison and a team of talented artists manage to do is re-imagine something as frightening as a green witch with an arsenal of flying monkeys. The characters have a depth that makes them immediately believable and the story draws you in, in my case actually leaning into the page as I read.
There are few books in my collection that include the “alternate” special covers, yet this collection has every one. The penciling and ink, color and overall art is so magical, it could be framed (and IS framed in the All Things Oz museum). Alisson Borges and Kate Finnegan deserve special recognition for their work as artist and colorist, and I would be remiss to not give ‘props’ to the variant cover artists, Jenevieve Broomall, Nei Ruffino, Victoria Page and Fausto Hernandez, and Mike DeBalfo, Natali Sanders, Corey Knaebel, Ian Snyder, and Owen Gieni.
Any collector of comics and graphic novels, and any collector of OZ universe items must have the Collected Edition…but more over – any collector of good storytelling, wonderful artwork, and an appreciation for an alternate look at a classic favorite will be delighted with this work.
When Tom asked me to write the forward, I could think of no greater honor. Above all else, I am a fan of Tom’s work. It has made my list. I have had to accept that I was wrong. There are six truly great comic books in the world. Without further delay, it is my honor and a privilege to introduce you to the Legend of Oz: The Wicked West.
Marc R. Baum