Sunday, August 17, 2008

Dorothy of Oz (manhwa, vol. 2) by Son Hee-Joon

Mara is lost in the world of Oz, where magic might actually exist, people use technology that has effects like magic, and people keep calling her Dorothy. She finds out that she might have visited Oz 10 years ago, but she doesn't remember anything from that time. She learns a little about Oz from a powerful woman named Selluriah, but, before she can learn more and (more importantly) find out how to get home, Selluriah's castle is attacked. Before dying, Selluriah tells Mara/Dorothy to take a few things with her, including a pair of boots that can giver her magic-like powers, and follow the yellow brick road, her best chance to get home. Even if Mara wanted to stay, she couldn't, because Selluriah's people think she was the one who killed her. During her journey, Mara comes across a strange young man tied up like a scarecrow.

I haven't read much manhwa, mainly because my public library doesn't have much in its collection. I always feel a little weird reading everything from left to right, after getting used to the Japanese right to left format. As far as this series goes, if I ever read the first volume before, it was long enough ago that I don't remember it, so I was a little confused by the story at first. Once I adjusted to this world, I started to like the story more.

This volume starts off like a comedic fantasy and soon becomes a bit darker, as several characters are killed off and Mara/Dorothy finds herself alone, with hardly any idea of how things work in this world. Both deaths were a big surprise to me. Selluriah seemed like a character who'd be sticking around for a while and injecting a lot of comedy into the story, and the other character seemed to have a slim chance of becoming a love interest for Dorothy (I'm never sure what to call her, but she seems to have adjusted to being called Dorothy by the end of the volume). I suppose the little snippet from the author in the inside front cover should've tipped me off that something like this was going to happen, but it really didn't fit with what seemed to be the established tone of the series. I mean, some bits are really goofy, like when all the men drool over the naked transformation scenes (it made me think of the stuff you find in magical girl anime).

The first 6 pages of this volume are in color, and Hee-Joon's coloring work is so pretty that I kind of wish that the entire volume could've been in color - I'm sure it would've looked gorgeous. In addition to the color pages, there are also a few extra pages at the end of the volume with extra art and funny comics. I think they were drawn by Hee-Joon and people who are probably Hee-Joon's assistants.

  • Van Von Hunter (manga) by Ron Kaulfersch (story) and Mike Schwark (art) - I hesitated at calling this manga, since it's created by Americans imitating Japanese manga style, but it's less complicated calling it manga than it would be to figure out what else to call it (Amerimanga? OEL manga? Every label has been criticized by somebody). This humorous series parodies Japanese manga and American fantasy and stars Van Von Hunter, a clueless slayer of evil things, who is accompanied by a nameless, amnesiac sidekick. Those who'd like another humorous story in which the characters go on a journey in strange world might like this series.
  • Kyo Kara Maoh (anime TV series) - Yuri is a pretty ordinary kid who tries to save a classmate from a bunch of bullies and ends up getting flushed down a toilet into a different world (yes, you read that right). In this other world, Yuri is told that he's the new Demon King, just because his eyes and hair are black. Yuri's goal is to find a way home, but he becomes more and more entangled in this new world, accidentally acquiring a male fiance and coming to realize how important his role in this world is. Those who'd like another humorous story that takes place in a strange and magic-filled fantasy world might like this series.
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (book) by L. Frank Baum - Those who are interested in the original inspiration for Dorothy of Oz might want to try this book, the first in Baum's Wizard of Oz series. Dorothy, Toto, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Lion each travel through the strange and complex land of Oz in search of his or her heart's desire.
  • Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (book) by Gregory Maguire - This book tells the story of Elphaba, future Wicked Witch of the West, as she deals with childhood, college, and eventually the events of L. Frank Baum's book. The Wicked Witch of the West is re-imagined as a sympathetic and empathetic character that readers will want to cheer on - however, Maguire doesn't change Baum's original ending for the Witch. Those who'd like another story that uses Baum's creation as its inspiration might like this book.
  • Tin Man (live action mini-series) - In this science fiction update of Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a young Midwestern woman named D.G. ends up in the land of OZ, a once-beautiful place under the iron rule of a sorceress named Azkadellia. D.G. goes on a journey to find the mystic man, a person who's supposed to have all the answers she needs, and is joined by several others, a scarecrow, a tin man (OZ's version of a cop), and a gentle manimal. Things don't go as Dorothy hopes, but she eventually discovers a lot of secrets about her own past and her connection to OZ. Those who'd like another story that uses Baum's creation as its inspiration might like this mini-series.

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