Exploring various characters in the world of Oz, this issue of Tales From Oz explores the origins of the evil witch Zamora. Is it good?
Grimm Fairy Tales: Tales From Oz #6: Zamora (Zenescope Entertainment)
Woooo boy. Ok, I probably should have done some research into Zenescope and this series before I chose this comic to review. As a huge fan of Wizard of Oz and many of its offshoots, including the musical Wicked, I thought this comic would be right up my alley. Well, it wasn’t, so let’s just address my biases right up front, shall we?
Apparently Zenescope is in the genre of comics art that shows as much T&A as possible. And boy howdy, they barely hold back in this book, though compared to other issues in this series, Zamora shows some restraint. As a little girl, Zamora is drawn and clothed pretty tamely, but as soon as she hits puberty, BAM! DD cups and a 26 inch waist. Lucky girl.
Zamora grows up. And out.
It’s also very difficult to tell what age group this comic is intended for. The writing is pretty basic, but the sexuality of the art and the violence/gore factor seems high for anything other than an adult comic. Maybe YA, but I can’t see any teen being very interested in this story.
I think what bothered me most about this story is that it…let’s use the nice term…“borrows” very heavily from Wicked, both the book by Gregory Macguire and the musical. They simply take the backstory of Elphaba, the green-skinned protagonist of those works, rename her Zamora and sex/violence her up. Instead of her mother dying in childbirth and her father resenting her for her mother’s death, Zamora is born already being gifted with strong magic. Her mother wants to steal that magic for herself and another faction. Her father is a perfect warrior and loves her unconditionally; as Zamora says, “He was my everything.” Yeah, that relationship feels a bit creepy.
Yada yada, her mother traps her and tries to steal her magic, her father tries to rescue her and is killed in the process, and Zamora reacts very badly to this. Not the most original villain backstory.
The entire story is set as a therapy session between Zamora and the Headmaster of Abraxas Academy, and after she finishes telling him about her father, you see her sent to the academy and how she is thriving there. All of that part of the story seemed to be ripped straight from Wicked the musical.
Is It Good?
So all that aside, is it good? I did like some of the art – as Zamora is telling the story of her father’s past and arrival in Oz, the story is shown as scenes from tapestries and stained glass. It was a lovely choice and added to the storytelling.
I also liked the hints of what artist del Pennino can do when he’s not drawing a sexy anatomy lesson on every page. The scenes with young Zamora are charming and have more life to them, though I had trouble telling his ladies apart. A bit more differentiation in the face would have helped. I also thought the colors nicely fit the story, so good job Hedwin Zaldivar.
Unfortunately, the writing is very pedestrian and in some places really strained. Let’s look at this exchange:
Wow. Just…yeah. I think that speaks for itself. The writing in the rest of the issue isn’t much better. Lots of awkward phrasing and flatness in the dialogue.
Ultimately the issue is leading into a larger plot, but I’m not interested enough to stick with it. Nothing about this story felt new or unexpected, even with the deviations from the other Oz works this pulls from. I’d rather be shocked than bored, and I’m definitely coming down on the side of bored with this book.
Also, something interesting to note: Frank L. Baum was an ardent feminist and wove feminist messages into his Oz stories. Winnie Holzman continued this theme when she adapted Macguire’s novel into the book of the musical. I cannot imagine that either of them would be happy with these comics.