“Somewhere Over The Sword Swings”
What’s more awesome than a classic retelling of old fairy tales; unlike what Disney is doing with their current backlog? Well the answer is simple, you get Samurai Of OZ.
I was very fortunate, more like honored, to be able to read chapter 1 of this kick ass Kickstarter comic provided by publisher Mount Olympus Comics and Bleeding Fool. Created and written by Ron. Z, drawn by Santa Fung, colored by Alessia Nocera, and lettered by Keith Perkins: these four people came together and have re-envisioned a classic story of The Wizard Of OZ – but with a twist. Set in a mythical feudal Japan type world and inspired by anime such as Ninja Scroll and Vampire Hunter D., the story wastes no time letting readers know that we’re reading a fairy tale with that little four-word sentence that we all know and love since we were children; “Once Upon A Time…”.
“Follow The Bloody Red Road”
Throughout this action packed first chapter; and believe me, its non-stop-action; we get to see Dorothy Blade flex her various martial art skills and prowess with various traditional as well as makeshift weapons. From the very get-go she’s a bad ass – none of that ‘Mary Sue’ stuff though. She’s caring and compassionate to all the various people she helps around her village. Fighting off thieves and scoundrels that dare to prey on them, acting as a protector and guardian. In combat, she’s ruthless and agile, and throughout the first chapter, she taunts various enemies of increasing strengths and abilities with a simple line “One Move!” “Two Moves!” Instantly getting inside their minds, striking fear, letting them know that she means business and that she can end them in an instant if she wanted to.
“omae wa mou shindeiru”
The comic’s art style and the kinetic fight set pieces are clearly inspired by Japanese Manga and Anime. So much so, that when I was reading it I would constantly hear the sound “NANI!!!” play in my bloody head constantly. And now that I’ve mentioned it; it’ll be playing in your head too. For a loooooong time! Another aspect of the chapter I enjoyed was the pacing. Again, this was nonstop action, with Dorothy going from one fight to another. And eventually building up to the crescendo, reflecting the looming presence of the Twister until it finally strikes and uproots Dorothy’s home.
So, you must be asking; how can you translate Ruby Red Slippers, Wicked Witches, a Scarecrow, a Tin Man and a Cowardly Lion into a Japanese fairy-tale? Without giving too much away, they’ve thought all about that. Ruby Slippers are replaced with a mysterious Ruby Hilt Sword, Monkey Men and Witches are instead demonic entities and Toto is….well. Let’s just say that Toto is no longer a cute little Cairn Terrier, but is instead the most ferocious and loyal black wolf you’ve ever seen.
These creative interpretations have a freshness and originality that separates it from Judy Garland’s musical version, yet they retain story beats that still feel familiar. Who knows; maybe they’ll be a musical number here and there? Ah who am I kidding?! But that would be cool if it had them dotted around the story or maybe in haiku’s or little cameo Easter Egg nods by characters. Though as of writing this review, I then remembered there was a line by one of the villagers that does nod to the original author of The Wizard Of Oz series, L. Frank Baum.
“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, Actually…DO!”
And so, we arrive now at the end of my review, the journey’s end; so let me tell you a bit about Ron Z’s Kickstarter. Ron is already an established creator with his mighty fine work on Patriotika. I’m really looking forward to seeing this comic series succeed and so I highly recommend to our readers to consider backing it. Samurai Of OZ has a bounty of tiers, rewards and stretch goals for your support; including both ‘topless’ and regular prints of the titular heroine, Dorothy Blade. If that’s your thing, c’mon don’t be afraid to admit it! Dorothy is one sexy bad ass hero. If nothing can change your mind then I’ll leave you with this stunning cover art to help nudge you in the right direction. All you need is “a little courage!”
Mark your calendars, because Samurai of Oz 2 launches on Kickstarter August 20th, and will feature art by Dike Ruan, Geebo Vigonte, Ivan Nunes, and Peach Momoko!