Where there is a will … justice will find a way.
Writer: Terry Kavanagh
Artwork: Marcelo Mueller
Colors: Leonardo Paciarotti
Letters: Maurizio Clausi
What They Say:
Even with the aid of some unexpected heroes, Dorothy and her friends are losing the fight to reclaim the Emerald City. To finally defeat the Wizard, Dorothy must risk losing herself once again to the Gem of Zamora. And there must always be a balance to magic. So, even if the Emerald City is restored to glory, what will be the cost to Oz itself?
Content (please note that portions of review may contain spoilers):
Obsidian City is the capital province of the lost Southern Lands of Oz and former sovereignty of one named the Wizard, but now that remains are veiled shadowy ruins which serves as the tomb of Glinda and Adraste, the same people of which Dorothy and her companions have finally found. However, it now appears their quest may have been in vain as their formidable foe had used former captives for his own means and drained them of all energies, leaving but lifeless husks imprisoned within a crypt of crystal. But the rightful queen of Oz will not surrender to misery so easily for she still sees a whisper of consciousness left in her friends and will do anything to rekindle the last hope of salvation, even if means having to sacrifice all the remaining Green left within her own body. And while her suspicion may have been correct in this means to revive these protectors, the procedure has also cost the Gale her own existence as her friends mourn over a desiccated corpse, only to have Thorne boldly state he can still smell blood flow in her veins. And yet as the two witches try their best to revive this savior with their own magics it proves not enough, with the queen edging closer to Death’s Door those assembled will not surrender their friend, even if it means relinquishing their own energies to stem the tide and reverse the flow.
But six days after this mortal battle had begun the Wizard finds himself in possession of a prize most valuable, one which proved all of his deception and scheming worthy of the achievement which it garnered, the Gem of Zamora and more importantly the embodiment of the Green – Ozma herself. She was the reason why this duplicitous sorcerer sought Dorothy’s reign and the freedom it gave him to do anything without question, including destroying the outskirts of Emerald City and callously uprooting citizens from their homes and costing several their lives. But even if his wise councilor Bartleby attempted to reject the idea all he need do is turn to cunning Lady Soforth to become a distraction and now all their extensive conniving had served its purpose and they received everything … at least the Wizard has as he absorbed the Gem into his body and it brimmed with unending power. But as the pair dragged along a straw burdened observer to bear witness to their next conquest, what they saw outside the gates of Emerald City was to be expected – a militia lead by Glinda formed of allies they gathered outside of his influence, and yet at the vanguard was a familiar form, a woman who all knew and those inside the walled city had thought was the one sitting on the throne. The conflict for Oz had started but as both forces clashed in the ferocious skirmish, a power hungry Wizard was confident he had won this initial struggle when the war had barely begun.
Throughout Oz: Heart of Magic it seemed writer Terry Kavanagh was deliberately holding back essential information as he carefully crafted his contrived story to elaborate as to the meaning behind the Wizard’s hunger, but as we reach the finale sadly all of his meticulous attention to detail has collapsed into a clichéd conclusion. While the premise began with Oz: The Wizard One-Shot had promise, somehow during this evolution, the narrative lost its way and became more concerned with weaving endless melodramatic intrigue instead creating a story which built a relationship with the reader and allowed them to become engendered with Dorothy’s crusade to free Oz. Even those familiar with the background of this realm may have found this series confusing as Kavanagh kept adding more elements to the scenario behind Ann and the Wizard’s need to take over Emerald City, and yet any reasoning behind the obsession was never fully explained or why Lady Soforth would join him in this mad takeover aside from revenge. Unsurprisingly as we found ourselves delving deeper into this mage’s history while we journeyed farther into his kingdom, there was a lack of understanding as to what had happened or why both Obsidian City and the forgotten province of Oogaboo had a grudge against the Emerald City; as such, the audience has no basis as to cement their hatred and we are left with antagonists which are hollow in their reasoning which then has repercussions on the series as a whole, with the only option being to read L. Frank Baum’s books to be given an inkling as to what happened within the original stories. However in lieu of giving readers a conclusion which satisfies with a fulfilling story to plug in any plot holes, we instead receive a finale which has so many fantasy precepts it is overwhelming: noble hero sacrifices self to save friends and is given the same in return, villain gains his ultimate prize and becomes drunk with power, forgotten hero leads an army to take back the kingdom, too numerous betrayals against the antagonist to count … and the list goes on and on. This title leaves us wanting for a narrative which has more substance than nuance and while it does have the components for a noteworthy tale it lacks for a deep closure to unanswered questions and a want to know what will happen next within Dorothy’s realm in the aftermath.
While the series is lacking for a story which gives the audience a rewarding experience, the same cannot be said for the fantastic illustrations of Marcelo Mueller that give the tale dynamic enthusiasm and Leonardo Paciarotti’s vibrant colors which illuminate the drab atmosphere with a life of its own. The stunning synergy of this wonderful team allows each panel to create a stirring melodrama which builds from the one before, amplifying the emotional vibrancy taken from finely detailed images and stirring in an array of earthen tones and mystical neons to give every page an incredible complexity resulting in a magical concoction of which draws you in ever deeper with every sip of this addicting elixir. Although the abundance of electrifying scenery may be overwhelming at times to the reader, it is this magical reminder which allows the audience to remember this is not Kansas anymore and The Gale is the queen of this realm, weighing all those heavy responsibilities upon her slight shoulders and her actions upon a curvaceous body. Combined with the audacious nature of the artwork and we receive a visual treat which would feel out of place within any other story – displaying a captivating farm girl standing majestically ahead of a ragtag army of companions who would not fail to fight for what is right. You cannot but feel the building excitement within this ominous battle and while the complexity of the forces seems fitting to something from an ambitious fantasy movie, it is the grandeur of displaying our favorite good witch and her fearless adept at the forefront which makes it all the more thrilling. However when we are given the opportunity to witness the menace of the battle to siege the surrounding walls of Emerald City plus the throng of countless soldiers and the gigantic Talos in the background, one cannot but make a comparison to some fantastical MMORPG like World of Warcraft, the scale of the battle is kept intact and with it a memory which we will not soon forget, even if the narrative behind title was a disappointment.
Oz: Heart of Magic is an unbalanced story for an Oz series which depends on its characters to define the foundation and while it does leave more questions unanswered than one would like, the underlying tale does work into the mystique of the franchise and echoes into the history of Dorothy’s legacy. However due to its inclinations to build up the melodrama and intrigue the villains’ motivations feel hollow and as such it creates a narrative which leaves the reader unsatisfied with a lackluster conclusion that ends with too many clichés to allow them to go unnoticed and wonder what went wrong in the end. It is only thanks to fantastic illustrations and inspiring colors that the series creates a memorable impression, but in all the title is blasé and allows us to wonder how the plot threads will be hemmed in within in next series.
Series Grade: B
Age Rating: T (for Teens)
Released By: Zenescope
Release Date: September 4th, 2019