BY CASSANDRA ROSE
Protagonist Dee is returning from a five year sabbatical in Los Angeles, after the mysterious and sudden death of her parents in a freak tornado accident. When Dee comes back to Emeraldsville, Kansas for the funeral, things are not as they seem, and her family seems to be harboring a deep dark secret that could change her life. The Wizard of Oz has never been darker than with this morbid riff on the beloved children’s classic.
Fractured fairy tales seem to be all the rage these days from movies (Snow White and the Huntsmen, Little Red Riding Hood), television (“Grimm”, “Once Upon a Time”), comic books (Fables and anything from Zenescope)- stop me before I continue listing examples. With this trend hitting the media, it was only a matter of time before someone tackled a re-imagining of L. Frank Baum’s American fairytale . Thankfully Image Comics snagged it up first.
The story opens with a mysterious tornado that wreaks havoc and kills 17 residents in Emeraldsville, Kansas, two of which are Dee’s parents. Dee is a punk rocker that looks like a less-scantily clad Cassie Hack- who left her hometown to pursue writing in LA. Unfortunately, with these plans dashed (her writing dreams amounted to working in a used bookstore) and her parents dead, she returns to her roots, changing her life forever.
The suspense is palatable in Angelo Tirotto’s narrative, as whispered conversations and the rumbling and dire warnings of a mad drunk hint that Dee should leave, and leave quickly. From dead and beheaded ravens, to oldsters consistently talking about the extremely similar tornado of 1959, which killed raving drunk Thomas’ brother William, things are most certainly not what they seems. Only time will tell where this mystery filled plot is headed.
As a darker look at Oz, No Place Like Home has an overabundance of references to the source material. The allusions pop right out at you, like the cute terrier named Terry who looks disturbingly like Toto, a town sheriff named Frank after author L. Frank Baum, the town name Emeraldsville being equated with the Emerald City, the characters seeing the original Judy Garland flick in a drive-in theatre, and Sue running a restaurant called Twisters Diner. Even Lizzie, Dee’s bestie has red sneakers, which would lead me to wonder how literal this retelling is (if it’s literal, the plot is a lot more apparent). Her character can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, an obvious riff on the song from the Broadway Musical, Wicked.
This new character driven series comes highly recommended for all fans of the books, movies, and those who love a healthy dose of the morbid.