By Eric Shanower (Writer), Skottie Young (Artist), and Jean-Francois Beaulieu (Colorist)
Some Thoughts Before The Review: I initially had very little interest in picking up Marvel’s Wizard of Oz series. Then I saw Skottie Young’s fantastic take on the classic characters in the free sketchbook that was released a little while back; and surpisingly I was convinced to give the first issue of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz a shot.
The Story: Based off the classic children’s story by L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz begins just as you might expect. So, to save you some time, I’ll just say that there is a tornado, there are Munchkins, a farmhouse lands on the Wicked Witch of the East, and Dorothy meets one of her traveling companions. No big surprises story wise, but don’t take that as a negative.
What’s Good: Pretty much everything. Simply put, you really can’t ask for much more from a comic adaptation of a classic story. Eric Shanower’s writing effortlessly (and effectively) captures the tone and feel of L. Frank Baum’s tale without ever getting in the way of the real star of the show, the artwork.
Skottie Young and Jean-Francois Beaulieu both deserve equal amounts of credit for how absolutely outstanding The Wonderful Wizard of Oz #1 looks. Truth be told, Young’s character and scene design are some of the best I’ve ever seen. It manages to be endearing, charming, whimsical, original, and stylish, without ever truly abandoning the source material. And the coloring by Beaulieu easily adds on to making this one of the most visually impressive books of the year. A prime example of the magic that can happen when an artist and a colorist prove to be a perfect match for the material they are working with.
What’s Not So Good: Next to nothing. From a critical standpoint, the biggest negative I can think of is the fact that the comic is simply telling a story pretty much everybody knows. As such, you probably won’t find any surprises outside of those offered by the art team.
Conclusion: The start of an exceptional, visually superb adaptation of a classic, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz #1 easily ranks as one of the best comics of the year. This is one of those rare times I have absolutely no qualms with recommending a $3.99 comic book. It is worth every penny.