Issue by Issue – Dark Oz #1

Writer – Stuart Kerr, Ralph Griffith
Artist – Bill Bryan
Letters – W.A.R. Studios

With this issue, Oz would return to the stands under Arrow Comics and under a new name as well, now going by Dark Oz. Also returning to the fold would be artist Bill Bryan, no stranger to the land of Oz having illustrated over twenty or so issues of it in the past over at Caliber. This particular miniseries picks things up where they left off when the first series was cancelled so abruptly, though not at the exact same spot where Jack Pumpkinhead was seemingly killed off. Instead, it follows the other group of intrepid heroes who had been off looking for the Fountain of Youth, that being Dorothy, Hungry Tiger, Tin Man, Scarecrow, Betsy Bobbin and Trot. They arrive at the castle of the good witch Glinda, one of the three who has been missing since the Nome King took power and remains so to this day. They find the castle much changed, like a lot of Oz at the moment thanks to the rule of the aforementioned Nome King and they also find things a little strange what with the scarecrows situated everywhere outside of the castle. Once inside, the team breaks into three groups, though authors Stuart Kerr and Ralph Griffith give readers a bit of a history lesson for those that might have missed the previous series. They search for something that might aid Dorothy, a potion or some hint that might lead them to those magical waters and instead, they only find more scarecrows and they are on every floor within, giving everyone a very uneasy feeling. Soon things become very clear to the heroes as the scarecrows attack and Scarecrow comes to meet up with his long-lost son Stitch who has been trying to carry out his formerly evil father’s plan to replace all fleshlings with beings of straw. This first issue may have only focused on one aspect of the previous title’s run but it is a necessary chapter and it finally addresses that very big hanging plot line of Stitch and what happened to him after his creation. For a little while, it seemed as if the authors had forgotten about him but all it required was a little patience and now those readers who had been waiting for this moment have been rewarded within these pages. As it is, Stitch makes for a chilling character and one has to wonder just how it is that Scarecrow is going to deal with him and his fellow straw men, though one can guess it might have something to do with fire. As for Dorothy, she may not get what she wants, at least not yet, or quite possibly ever as she has to survive the current situation. Great stuff with Bryan’s artwork looking as sharp as ever that matches the very thrilling story.

4 out of 5

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