After I finished listening to Anne Hathaway read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, I wanted to continue the series, but in a different format. I don’t want to commit the next year or two to reading all 14 books in their original form, but if Hathaway had kept reading the rest of the series, I’d gladly listen to it that way. Unfortunately, she hasn’t.
Another option is Eric Shanower and Skottie Young’s comics adaptation, but before I bought any of the sequels I wanted to revisit the first book while it was still fresh in my mind. That way I could see for myself how faithful it is and how accurately I can expect their other adaptations to translate the rest of L. Frank Baum’s saga. Turns out: very faithfully.
I knew it was going to be okay when Shanower wrote in his introduction, “That this comics adaptation goes back to that book as its source is one of the aspects that drew me to this project. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has been told again and again in so many different versions and permutations that many of the original’s details have been obscured or forgotten. But they haven’t been lost. Here they are again, those wonderful Baum touches…” And so they are. I feel like I’m in very good hands by continuing the series in this form.
To celebrate, I’ve picked my Top 10 favorite moments from Baum’s book that didn’t make it into the Judy Garland version. I mentioned some of them as I was reading the book, but here they are – in order of occurrence – as depicted by Shanower and Young. Spoilers, of course.
I love how it reminds me of the opening chapters of The Fellowship of the Ring, but I also love that it slows down the beginning of Dorothy’s journey and builds anticipation for what she has in front of her.
Happens much earlier and more often than in the movie.
3. The Kalidahs
Especially the way Young draws them. He’s got a way of making Baum’s ridiculous descriptions look cool and menacing. But the Kalidahs also serve a real purpose in the story by giving the Lion a chance to demonstrate some real courage long before he meets the Wizard. (The Tin Man also reveals some early emotion and caring, but that’s not as cool because it involves crying over dead bugs.)
Another idea of the scarecrow, dramatically put into action by some bravely determined field mice. I love stories of little creatures overcoming obstacles that the powerful cannot.
5. The many faces of Oz
Makes Oz seem even more mysterious and powerful than he does in the film.
6. The Tin Man vs. The Wicked Witch’s wolves
I can’t tell you how much I want to see this depicted in a movie. Epic.
7. The Golden Cap of the Winged Monkeys
Unlike the film, where the winged monkeys are simply servants of the Wicked Witch of the West, the book depicts them as powerful figures who are controlled by a magical cap. Whoever possesses the cap can command the winged monkeys three – and only three – times. The Witch uses up her last command on capturing Dorothy.
That’s cool, but what’s even cooler is when Dorothy takes the cap. Dorothy in command of an army of winged monkeys is awesome.
Once the flying monkeys show up, a lot of my favorite moments revolve around them. I love the story they tell Dorothy about how they were enslaved by a sorceress when they messed with her fiancé. My favorite part of that story is that the groom-to-be demonstrates the grace and wisdom that the sorceress loves him for. She’s far less forgiving, which is too bad, but I quite like him.
9. The Lion’s liquid courage
I just love the unstated, visual pun.
10. Glenda the Good is really good
After being told a couple of times that people were “good” when I didn’t think they were all that good (the aforementioned sorceress and Oz himself, in particular), it was lovely and refreshing to see Glenda acting so selflessly; not only towards Dorothy and her friends, but to the flying monkeys as well.
I really haven’t gotten enough of the flying monkeys. I don’t know if they figure into the other Oz books, but I’m feeling an itch to start reading Fables again since one of them appears there.