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Weekly Reviews for Jan 5

January 8, 2011

After a long hiatus, we are back. Hopefully much more exciting news to come in the next few months but in the meantime here are your weekly reviews. This week the third issues of both Ozma of Oz and She-Hulks.

Ozma of Oz #3


Written by: Eric Shanower
Art: Skottie Young
Colors: Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Letters: Jeff Eckleberry
Cover Art: Young & Beaulieu
Production: Taylor Esposito
Editors: Sana Amant & Nathan Cosby
Editor in Chief: Joe Quesada
Publisher Dan Buckley
Executive Producer Alan Fine

The award winning pair of Eric Shanower and Skottie Young’s Oz adaptations continue in Ozma of Oz #3. In this issue the clockwork robot Tiktok defeats the wheelers, and Dorothy is imprisoned by a headswapping princess who wants Dorothy’s head for her own.

As per usual with this series the fidelity to the Baumian canon is spot on, but I think what makes this series really special is the way that it highlights some of the events from the book and really fleshes them out. For example there’s a part where Tiktok attempts Princess Langweirde’s soldiers from taking Dorothy to her tower here is how it reads in the books:

“To hear is to obey,” answered the big red colonel, and caught the child by her arm. But at that moment Tiktok raised his dinner-pail and pounded it so forcibly against the colonel’s head that the big officer sat down upon the floor with a sudden bump, looking both dazed and very much astonished.
“Help!” he shouted, and the ten lean soldiers sprang to assist their leader.
There was great excitement for the next few moments, and Tiktok had knocked down seven of the army, who were sprawling in every direction upon the carpet, when suddenly the machine paused, with the dinner-pail raised for another blow, and remained perfectly motionless.

Now as fight scenes go this is exceedingly short, which is very much Baum’s style he didn’t go into too much description, just basically laid out the events and left it at that. It might be because of this that I didn’t even really remember there was a fight here despite the fact that I read the book several times in the past and am usually very good at remembering details from anything I read. When you translate this sequence into a comic, even devoting 5 panels to a handful of sentences really helps bring them to life… and yes in the final panel of the sequence there are exactly seven soldiers sprawling on the carpet. Young’s excellent artwork comes into play here as it does in the rest of the book, my favourite panel is one where we see the Princess playing her mandolin in a room completely filled with mirrors (on the floor and ceiling too), it’s such a fun looking panel, when she’s in her hall of heads that’s great too.

That same sequence gives us an example of how Shanower adapts the text, while he does use a great deal of narration lifted more or less directly from the book he know when to let the panels do the narration for us, and when to tweak narration into dialogue or vice versa so:

“Help!” he shouted, and the ten lean soldiers sprang to assist their leader.

Becomes

“Help! Assist your leader”

It might seem like a simple thing, but from reading several adaptation comics I know it’s not always… like any kind of adaption you have to pick what information you feel is most important to be kept and what has to be discarded. If you are unable to resist the temptation to prune out the majority of the text, then you have an illustrated novel instead of a comic, and if you do prune out the excess text then you’ll never be able to satisfy everyone with your choices.
Shanower for example drops Dorothy’s unique speech pattern and mispronounced words ‘portance for importance in the book, but pronounced properly by her in the comic; I’m sure somewhere there’s an Oz fan who absolutely hates that he did that.
I for one am just glad that he’s doing such a bang-up job.

Quality Rank: 5/5
Out of the Fridge Rank: 4/5 –Tiktok does most of the work for Dorothy and she has to appeal to the Scarecrow at the end to help save her… but I know where this is going–
Bechdel Test: Pass

She-Hulks #3


Written by: Harrison Wilcox
Pencils: Ryan Stegman
Inks: Micheal Babinski
Colors: Guru eFX
Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Cover Art: McGuiness & Mounts
Production: Mayela Gutierrz
Asst Editor: Jordan D White
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Editor in Chief: Joe Quesada
Publisher Dan Buckley
Executive Producer Alan Fine

We’re three issues into She-Hulks and I still haven’t made up my mind about this comic. It has a lot of promise to be a great girl-friendly book featuring two [literally and figuratively] strong female characters, teaming up to fight the good fight. Like so many other girl-hero books it’ll come down to how it’s handled and I’m still not sure where the characters are going.

Lyra, the Savage She-Hulk, has been outed to a girl who was bullying her at school who now wants to be all buddy-buddy and has demanded that she attends an upcoming dance, in a dress. So cue the stereotypical shopping montage, with Lyra not being interested but being subjected to purchasing a years worth of clothes by the shop-a-holic Jennifer, The Sensational She-Hulk. While this is a tired trope, it sure beats having Jennifer do naked Jump rope (sorry Marvel, you will never live that down).

The hero-side of the story is interesting enough with them out to capture a group of villains (this time going up against Klaw), but I’m not sure how this is all going to be resolved by next issue.

That’s right this is apparently a mini-series, even though I am still luke-warm on this title I really hope it is continued because the idea of a team of two “strong women” one of them mentoring the other is incredibly appealing, it just needs more time to develop (and writers who respect Jennifer as a superhero and lawyer).

The art is competent but the Hulks don’t look as muscular as they normally do, this is a big problem as the She hulks are among the very rare superherione to go beyond swimmer or runner in terms of body build and actually look more muscular then some of the guys. These are women who not only could beat Captain America without breaking a sweat they also look like it, at least most of the time… here not so much and it’s really disappointing.

Quality Rank 3.5/5 -Story is starting to feel rushed-
Out of the Fridge Rank 3/5 -some feminine cliches, but overall compelling characters-
Bechdel Test: Pass

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