13 November 2009

Let’s Examine That

I enjoyed the great march of Bill Willingham and (mostly) Mark Buckingham’s Fables comic to issue #75. In fact, I’ve been planning a “Willingham week” for a while; that prospect was both strengthened and postponed when I received a review copy of his new novel, Peter and Max.

Nonetheless, I haven’t read either of the Fables volumes that followed War and Pieces, the one that brought the heroes’ war against their Adversary to an end. I fear that further Fabletown stories would be an anticlimax, and am instead thinking about picking up the first issues in the deluxe edition.

But now I understand that a young magic-worker named Ozma is a major character in the current story arc. Here she is illustrated by Buckingham in issue #90, with the telltale poppy in her hair.

But didn’t John R. Neill drew Ozma with dark hair in most of the Oz books? Yes, but in the character’s first appearance in The Marvelous Land of Oz L. Frank Baum described Ozma’s hair as “tresses of ruddy gold,” and Neill’s one portrait of her is consistent with that. Only when Neill had started drawing Dorothy Gale as a blonde did he make Ozma and brunette. When Dorothy is brunette, as in the Return to Oz movie and in Fables, Ozma becomes blonde.

This isn’t the first time Willingham has borrowed characters from the Oz books for Fables. Early on we had glimpses of Dorothy and her companions, and of Glinda in her swan chariot. A bibulous winged monkey named Buffum is an ongoing presence, but his personality is Willingham’s own invention. Ozma seems to be the most prominent ongoing character from the Oz books to also become a prominent ongoing character in Fables.

However, there’s a lot more to Ozma than simply having a flower in her hair and being able to work magic (a talent she developed only late in Baum’s series). And the few preview pages I’ve seen don’t convince me that this girl is the real Ozma.

1 comment:

dot said...

I was surprised when Fables kept going after the Adversary was defeated, but there are two key words that factor into why the series is continuing. "Power Vacuum." When I kept on reading, I was actually really pleased that it felt like the end of the Adversary was not the end of the story. It's not that they've summoned up some worse evil or any weird plot unveiling like that, but just the simple fact that other forces shift into power throughout the Homelands, and it's still going to be an ardous journey to restore any kind of stable power structure. Like in real life.