REVIEW: The Marvelous Land of Oz HC

The Marvelous Land of Oz


Written by Eric Shanower, based on the Novel by L. Frank Baum
Art by Skottie Young
Colors by Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Letters by Jeff Eckleberry
$29.99 / 200 Pages / Full Color 
Marvel Comics
As I don't have any children, I opted to read this story aloud to my dogs, periodically flipping the book around and holding up the exquisitely illustrated pages for their inspection. Jack Pumpkin-Head was Paul Lynde and that witchypoo Old Mombi was my best Ed Asner. It went over pretty well, I think, but well before I'd finished, the dogs had wandered out of the room and I was silently engrossed in another realm where the grass is purple and a sprinkling of dust and a few arcane syllables are all that's needed to turn a wooden sawhorse into a swift and talkative steed. Entry to Oz, as it turns out, doesn't require a cyclone nor a head injury. You can reach it from a gently creaking rocking chair, from sprawled out on the carpet or blanket unfurled under a tree (regardless the color of its leaves). All you need to make your way to a place like Oz is the desire to be taken there. And it doesn't hurt to have a few tour guides who know all the turns by heart. People like Eric Shanower and Skottie Young, the latest curators of the magical world dreamed up by L. Frank Baum over a century ago.
We've all seen at least one visual interpretation of Oz as a setting before, but not since Walter Murch's 1985 film Return to Oz has the place looked so perfectly off-kilter, weird, and wonderful. Last year's Eisner winning Wonderful Wizard of Oz saw a script closer to the original novel than the undeniably ubiquitous 1939 film version from Victor Fleming, but thanks to artist Skittie Young, it also provided a whole new vision that was both adorable and creepy. Take the re-imagined Scarecrow, who can either appear cute as a button or downright disturbing from panel or panel or even within a single gesture. The entire book is like that, with Young's distinctive cartooning style offering new and unusual interpretations on an entire plane of otherworldly existence.
That world broadens in the second series entitled The Marvelous Land of Oz. This story is probably even more exciting than the first because it covers material far less familiar to most readers. Here we follow a clever and inventive boy called Tip as he escapes his guardian, a wannabe witch by the name of Old Mombi, with the help of some magically animated friends. Foremost is Jack Pumpkin-Head, a pulpier fill-in for the Scarecrow (who also turns up as the newly crowned King of Oz). Throw in the aforementioned Sawhorse, the returning Tin Woodsman, a helpful Woggle-Bug, and even a flying couch affixed with the taxidermied head of an antlered Gump, and we've got ourselves a traveling show. Did I mention all the girls of Oz have mounted a coup, wresting control of the ill-prepared Emerald City and ousting its straw-man monarch? It's an honest-to-Glinda sexual revolution! If anything, it's even more compulsively readable than its predecessor. 
While Shanower's script might stick too close to Baum's text at times, letting the story get a little wordier than it probably needs to be in this medium, I don't know that I ever tired of the narrative excess. It's not as if it takes away very much from those beautiful panels. He should definitely be applauded for treating younger readers with their due respect, never talking down or softening his language. Children might need to ask that a few words like 'obstinate' or 'interloper' be explained, but that's a pretty vital part of the learning process isn't it? I have to imagine that this is the kind of book a parent would be eager to share with their kid(s), as it plays with some absurd humor sure to entertain thoughtful humans of any age set. And it's endlessly gorgeous. Not in a mindlessly pretty Thomas Kinkade way either. It's peculiar and captivating and consistent in a way only a truly gifted draftsman and visionary could endeavor to accomplish. I'd be remiss if I didn't include colorist Jean-Francois Beaulieu in that number, as the vibrant, largely autumnal palette truly enlivens this grand adventure. 
Buy this book. Share this book. It is the latest chapter of an ongoing atlas. It is an invitation–inspiration and spark–to imagine big. And there are few greater gifts for a child or anyone who ever was one. 
Story: 4.5     Art: 5     Overall: 5
The Marvelous Land of Oz is now available in a stunning, oversized hardcover volume. Grab it on Amazon


  1. I’ve been looking forward to this collection all year. It’s the next GN I’m getting, that’s for sure.

  2. I absolutely loved the first series and have been waiting for this hardcover. Thanks for the review!

  3. Sooo buying this. Big fan of Skottie.

  4. My daughters and I loved the first hardcover.  We’re excited about this.  I’ve said it before: Skottie Young is a magician.

  5. I loved reading this issues and will probably get this as a Christmas gift from the family – they gave me Wizard of last year. I love Skottie’s designs for this book. Jack Pumpkinhead is one of my favorite characters from the Oz mythos and he looks fantastic. I can’t wait for Skottie’s Tik-Tok to show up in Ozma!

  6. I will have to give this a try. I always enjoy the reviews, Paul. Keem ’em coming!

  7. Has anybody ever read Shanower’s OZ books, and if so how was it?  I understand he wrote/illustrated quite a few.

  8. They did a movie about Oz, like in the 1930’s I think. Have any of you ever seen that? It was pretty cool. It started and ended in black & white but the middle part was in color. Does the comic have songs in it?

  9. Will be getting this, but actually most excited for the third installment, "Ozma of Oz".  My favorite Oz book as a kid.

  10. Interesting and kind of creepy. Does Judy Garland show up?

  11. i to enjoy skittles as well !

    Now that you have experienced the rainbow…

    Taste the rainbow ! 

  12. Great art of course, but I thought the script/story was a little repetitive (how many times do they leave and return to the castle?).  Still a worth-while purchase.