A while back, Alisson Borges' entirely eye-catching cover of The Legend of Oz: Wicked West #1 grabbed my attention and my money, and while I've never been a devotee of The Wizard of Oz, I found enough charm in this wild western reimagining of the entire concept to check in for the length of the series. Then, as is sometimes the case with these small-press books, I lost complete track of it, patiently waiting for #2 to arrive, only to suddenly see that #3 was out and I'd missed it entirely. Thankfully, Big Dog Ink writer Tom Hutchison was kind enough to hook me up with what I missed, so I can finally update all y'all on the state of the series.
Three issues in, it's still pretty charming, and thankfully, it seems to have eased up on the over-sexualization of Dorothy Gale, the ruby-handled pistol-totin' cowgirl who don't take no guff and don't seem particularly inclined to get a whole posse together as she tries to follow what's left of the yellow brick road – which has been looted for gold and practically dissolved. However, she has picked up a couple of strays – a old cowpoke sheriff with a 'tin' star, and a strange unreal Indian girl they're calling Scarecrow who is apparently a mystically-animated puppet made out of straw. In The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West #3, the not-quite-so-cowardly lion joins the fray… still sporting weird emo clown makeup and what is apparently a tiara.
He's a full-on lion, and since Gale freed him from his captors, he's been following her trek from a distance, only making himself known when she's threatened by some massive tiger-monsters called Kalidahs in the midst of an enchanted forest. The lion also proves handy as a ride, since Toto's up and darted off on his own, leaving Gale and the 'Crow to hoof it. Even if they make it through that fores, the Wicked Witch is after those ruby pistols and spurs, and she'll stop at nothing to get 'em – even if it means crazy bug-bullets.
Borges' interior art is greatly enhanced by Kate Finnegan's use of color, moving from stoic western vistas to the muted-rainbow mood of the forest, and the Kalidahs are pretty darn scary-looking. Plus, easing up on the gratuitous ass-shots and just letting Gale be Gale, a swaggerin', well-meanin' young gunslinger in an outfit that combines the ruffly shouldered girly look with the dusty-pantsed, twin-holstered, action-ready cowboy toughness makes her a lot more alluring than would all the variant cover images where she's spilling out of her top. A comfortable badass woman is always sexier than a posing bikini model.
Hutchison's use of the Scarecrow as the magnet for Gale's expository dialog works better here than it did when he was using Toto in that role, and now that most of it's out of the way in the first issue, it's much less prevalent here anyway. Save for the Wicked Witch, but she's doing the villain monologue to her big ugly monkeys, so that's to be expected. There's not a great deal of depth to the story, but it's imaginative, fun, and a refreshing change of pace.