In Review: Oz: Heart of Magic #1

You don't need Ruby Slippers to join Dorothy in her fantastic journey to reclaim the throne of Oz.

The covers: Hopefully you don’t have to click your heels together three times to find all eight covers for this premiere issue. The A cover is by Martin Coccolo and Ivan Nunes. Dorothy Gale has her hand around a tree limb to steady herself against the energy she’s powering up in her left hand. She looks at the reader as if she means business. She wears a blue and white half top with a matching skirt and white stockings. A jeweled blade is on her hip and the Emerald City is in the background. Very nice. There’s a lot of action on the B by Edgar Salazar and Hedwin Zaldivar. Within the Emerald City Dorothy leaps in the air to bring her blade down upon the wizard in green, Merlin. He wields a staff pulsing with green energy in his right and a blue orb exploding with white power. The characters and settings look great and the colors make it epic. A much more relaxed Dorothy graces John Royle, Jagdish Kumar, and Mohan Sivakami’s C cover. She’s wearing her iconic blues and whites as she leans against a wooden fence and plays with one of her pigtails. Corn is growing behind the fence and to the right is the Yellow Brick Road flanked by poppy fields that leads to the Emerald City. Very cute and one to find. Merlin dominates the D cover by Caanan White and Zaldivar. The villain looks fierce as he faces the reader with his claw-like hands. Red magical energy spouts from his chest into a tendril of flame. There are also flames behind the character, illuminating the castle’s wall. This is outstanding! Leonardo Colapietro’s E cover is also one to find. Dorothy and Toto are in the bottom center, with her cape and sword magnificent. A green crystalline wall is broken behind her and it’s emitting a ghoulish yellow light. Purple tentacles are writhing out of every side to ensnare the heroes. There’s also a gorgeously detailed gray frame around this image. This is superb! There’s also a Blank Sketch Variant cover that features the book’s title and the publisher with the rest in white. This allows a reader to get a unique one-of-a-kind illustration on this from an artist or have the creators sign it. I love this, but on it’s own it’s not much to look at. There are also exclusive covers I couldn’t find images of. They include the Subscription Exclusive (limited to 75 copies) by Jamie Tyndall, the In-Store Exclusive (100) by Sun Khamunaki, and the San Diego Comic Con Best of Zenescope Exclusive (150) by Keith Garvey. Good luck, collectors! Overall grades: A A-, B A, C A+, D A, E A+, and Blank Sketch Variant C

The story: In one page Dave Franchini and Terry Kavanagh, with Kavanagh writing this issue, bring the reader completely up to speed with protagonist Dorothy Gale’s past and where she’s at now. The next two pages smoothly introduce all her allies who are assisting her to find the Dragon Horn to help them cross the Pass-Pass. After crawling through a cave all look upon the panorama of the Underworld where clouds are at the bottom and land is at the top. As this is occurring, Bartelby the Scarecrow is being taken around by Dorothy (an impostor he’s unaware of) to see what she’s doing to the Emerald City, and it’s not good. I’m liking how Bartleby is being manipulated but isn’t aware of it. Pages 22 and 23 are brutal and wonderful moments for the scarecrow. Dorothy and her friends encounter obstacles in the Underworld that are fun and frightening, ending with a monstrous foe on 17. I like how Dorothy’s heart ultimately saves the group. This story gave me the characters, magic, and scares I wanted from Oz. Overall grade: A

The art: Marcelo Mueller does a terrific job on this book. The first page is a full-paged splash that shows Toto and Dorothy making their way though a tunnel. A turn of the page has eight panels introducing her friends on this quest with two of the panels going slightly across the center. Every individual is clearly shown so that each may be identified later with ease. Pages 4 and 5 is a double-paged spread that has everyone at the tunnel’s exit with their backs to the reader. This is a spectacular reveal to this strange land of Oz. Bartleby’s introduction has him with his face down, instantly making him a sad character. What he and Dorothy are looking at on Page 6 looks as though it was crafted in Oz. I love the close-ups in the penultimate panel on 8 and the silhouette in the final panel which increases an individual’s isolation. The actions on 9 and 10 are good fun, reminding me of a scene from Finding Nemo. The creature reveal on 12 is great and the increase of their numbers on 13 is a good scene. The full-paged splash on 16 shows the spectacular devastation of a familiar land extremely well. The design of the creature on 17 is okay, but what’s within it ups its awesome level. Another new character appears on 20 and looks terrific. The person that appears on 23 is sensational and the final panel on the page is outstanding. I’m so glad that Mueller is illustrating this book. Overall grade: A

The colors: I expect a lot of bright colors for adventures in Oz and Leonardo Paciarotti does not disappoint. The dark interior of the tunnel is bright enough to see it clearly and so are the characters. I like how Dorothy’s thought boxes are in a blue that matches her transformed flesh so the reader can identify whose words they are reading. The other characters’ browns, greens, and golds make them pop on the page. A beautiful variety of violets are used excellently for the reveal of the Underworld to make it magic. The oranges on 6 create a wonderful surface on an important object. I like how the sky is purple and pink at this location. These colors are also used for the Underworld’s skies with green included. This combination makes the settings otherworldly. The oranges dominate 15 and 16, which is a good continuation from Page 6. I love the light rose on 21 and the riveting blue in the last panel on the final page. Overall grade: A

The letters: Narration, dialogue, Fytor speech, scene settings, a chant, song lyrics, sounds, yells, a unique individual’s dialogue, and the tease for next issue are created by Maurizio Clausi of Arancia Studio. I am always happy when letterers differentiate narration from dialogue. Mechanical Fytor’s speech is given a cool robotic font without it looking like science fiction text. A chant and a song have appropriately large block letters. The sounds increase the actions, with SPOING my favorite. I really like the scene settings which resemble the style of those from classic fairy tales. Also looking sharp is the dialogue of the character that first appears on 20. I’m always enamored with unique characters having their own unique speech font to make them stand apart. Overall grade: A+

The final line: You don’t need Ruby Slippers to join Dorothy in her fantastic journey to reclaim the throne of Oz. The story has adventure, fun characters, and great thrills. The visuals capture the magic of the source material and marvelously make it Zenescope’s own. Recommended. Overall grade: A

To order print copy go to https://shop.zenescope.com/collections/oz-heart-of-magic-single-issues/products/oz-heart-of-magic-1

To order a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Oz-Heart-of-Magic-1/digital-comic/765917?ref=c2l0ZS9hamF4U2xpZGVyL2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC9nd1JmdVYx

To see the covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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