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Dorothy: Volume I    by Mark Masterson order for
by Mark Masterson
Order:  USA  Can
Illusive Arts Entertainment, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

To use the cliché, 'I don't think we're in Kansas any more' may certainly seem in bad taste but it's appropriate. In fact, readers may not even be sure they are in Oz when they read this new rendition of The Wizard of Oz. From beginning to end, this graphic novel gives readers a glimpse of Oz that will corrupt any previously light-hearted conception of the magical kingdom.

As a typical rebellious and gothic-clad teenager, Dorothy Gale hotwires her Uncle Henry's truck to go out and get into trouble. A tornado puts a quick end to her plans and lands her in Oz. With nothing but the clothes on her back, a backpack of accessories, facial piercings, and a bottle of water, she sets off to find a way home. After being attacked by a winged monkey, Dorothy saves a native being, who in return gives her a powerful necklace and directs her to a village of Munchkins. Her perilous journey has surprises around every corner, including a robotic quadruped named Toto and an absent-minded but dedicated scarecrow. Meanwhile, the wicked witch discovers Dorothy's appearance in Oz and plots to destroy her.

As said, this is not the Oz of childhood. Filled with swearing, violence, sexual innuendos, and a dark demeanor, Dorothy: Volume I creates a parallel Oz that is exciting and intriguing. Volume one covers the first four issues of this ongoing series and easily leaves readers wanting more - and Dorothy hasn't even made it to Munchkinland.

Though Oz was first a book before becoming one of the most recognizable movies in history, the art of this graphic novel harkens to Oz's more photogenic aspects. Realistic depiction takes on new meaning as much of the art for this series was more likely created in Photoshop than from an actual pen or pencil tip. Humans are presented as very real, almost photographs set in different poses, while everything surrounding them is filled in with art that would put CGI animation to shame. The inhuman characters also appear realistic in their unique and eerie forms.

Besides the authentic feel of each panel, the graphic novel provides a fantastic blending of colors for different effects, while at the same time creating a dark atmosphere and mood through word boxes and the depiction of particular scenes. Great attention goes into each panel and the tone and atmosphere are carried well throughout each sequence.

Remakes can be tricky, particularly when dealing with a classic. Gregory Maguire's Wicked met with great acclaim but the 1980s Return to Oz film had a dismal response. Part reinvention and part delineation, this graphic novel puts in the effort to stay faithful to the idea of Oz while at the same time repositioning it in a darker, more erratic world - quite appropriate for the times in which we find ourselves.

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