Oz Squad
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Last updated: 3 January 1996
Oz Squad #1-6, by Steven Ahlquist and Terry Loh, Patchwork Press
A very intriguing concept. Apparently sometime in the last few decades, the Land of Oz opened diplomatic relations with Earth. The two worlds are in different dimensions, and obviously have different physical laws, although Oz magic still works on Earth in some cases. Therefore, the US Government set up a special task force to deal with any Oz-related problems that arise. Who are these agents? Why, none other than Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman, and the Lion, of course!

The series firmly establishes that Dorothy's original adventures in Oz took place early in this century, so, although she hasn't physically aged beyond young adulthood, she is a hundred years old. And the Lion (and the Tiger) can both change into human form on Earth.

However, some Oz beings don't fare so well on Earth: The Scarecrow grows morose and listens to Nine Inch Nails, while Tik-Tok goes completely berserk in the first issue (recently reprinted from Brave New Words press).

The latest issue is #6, and is the best yet. In it, the Scarecrow has somehow ended up in the 16th century, where he meets Leonardo Da Vinci, as well as Joan Of Arc. (Didn't Joan of Arc die much earlier? Well, yes; thing is, before she "died", she was turned into a vampire. Like I said, it's an intriguing concept.) The art on the earlier issues is much darker, while the later issues is by one Terry Loh, who does an absolutely wonderful Scarecrow.

Creator/writer Steven Ahlquist certainly is the idea man, but he has some trouble with plotting: One issue sometimes doesn't lead elegantly into the next, and there are often plot points which are not made really clear, and the reader must make a mental leap to fill in the gaps. (This is different from writing genuinely complex and challenging material - although the story is intelligent; there are real holes here.) Still, the comic is worth picking up (if you can find it), and holds lots of promise.

(There is another comic, entitled simply Oz, which also features a present-day Oz, and seems to be very dark and brooding in tone. I haven't done more than glance through it, though.)

Reviewed September 1995

hits since 24 August 2000.

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