icon_uk: (Default)
icon_uk ([personal profile] icon_uk) wrote in [community profile] scans_daily2011-02-20 07:21 pm

Another blast from the past - Oz Squad!

Another comic unearthed from the depths of one of my longboxes is this, my only issue (as far as I recall) of Oz Squad, which came out back in 1991 from Brave New Words (No, I'd never heard of them either).

As you read this, remember that this predates "Wicked" by quite some time, and given how recently the Oz books had become public domain, it's actually a rather well thought out reimagning/updating.

I can guarantee that this won't be to all tastes, there are some VERY dodgy beats in this, and a couple of places where black humour becomes so pitch black it would cause most people (who would remember only the movie) some distinct squirming moments.

The first issue does a deal of scene-setting, and deals with Tik-Tok, who most folk probably only know through this.

After all, who couldn't trust a face like this?

Less that 10 pages from a 30 page issue.

The cover introduces us to the main cast... Dorothy, Lion, Nick Chopper (The Tin Woodman), Scarecrow and the Wizard.

At an airport in Kansas City, a new arrival is coming through Arrivals, chatting amiably with an air hostess who is a big fan. Lion is waiting for Tik-Tok (Lion has a human form, a very, VERY handsome human form with a natty line in designer suits. Not sure if that was ever in the books, but I'm sure someone can tell me)

But then...

Tik-Tok apologises, explaining that it's probably his Thinking Spring winding down (For those who don't know the character, Tik-Tok has three springs which require regular external winding; Thought, Action and Speech)

There then follows a fracas with a paper-vending machine, an obsecnity and a police giving Tik-Tok hassle for smashing the machine. Lion intervenes, flashing a CIA ID, explaining that his associate isn't used to Earth yet, and assuring them that the bill will be paid for damages, and removing Tik-Tok (swearing all the way) into a taxi.

They get in a taxi and head off to meet Dorothy, but Tik-Tok suddenly announces that he doesn't want to see Dorothy anymore, and doesn't want to see Lion either... Cue ultra-violence....

The cab hits a petrol tanker, and then smashes through the window of a nearby restaurant, the devastation is spectacular...

In the headquarters of the team known as Gale Force (I can appreciate why they called the comic "The Oz Squad", but "Gale Force" is a brilliant name for Dorothy's "Mission Impossible" type team), the Tin Woodman is in meditation in the garden when his internal radio picks up on the distress call, so he alerts Dorothy.

I have to say I like their take on Dorothy, not that she has much in common with the version we all know, but her appearance. (I'd say she was patterned after Linda Hamilton in Termiantor 2, but this came out at roughly the same time, so it seems unlikley). I'd say she's in her thirties, is no nymphet, and is beautiful rather than pretty (In my interpretation "pretty" fades with time, "beauty" lasts a whole lot longer).

She calls a mission team together

So Scarecrow is disaffected, listens to Nina Hagen (Think... Bjork meets Pizzazz of the Misfits, and a remarkable lady in her own right), and reads Aleister Crowley's "Snow Drops from a Curate's Garden" which he describes as "Edwardian occult porno trash".

Fitting Scarecrow into a suitcase (The most convenient means for him to travel, though he's not fond of it) the helicopter takes them towards the coty. But as Tik-Tok is involved, first Dorothy uses a magic belt (originally belonging to the Nome King, then Ozma, and now Dorothy) to open a gateway to Oz, so Nick and Scarecrow can stop off to get hold of Smith and Tinker's original blueprints for Tik-Tok in case they're of use. They immediately get in to see Ozma, who is not happy at the news.

Ozchwitz is where some of my gorge starts rising. Personally I believe that there are some things that should not be made light of, and this is one of them.

Meanwhile Dorothy has arrived on scene, and finds that Lion has regenerated himself following nearly being blown apart in the explosion. (This also means he's not wearing a shirt, I have no problem with that myself)

Tik-Tok has gone into the sewers, but luckily he's so cover in soot, Lion could probably track him down in human form so they set off, with the policeman, Officer Chrysler, insisting on coming, against Dorothy's better judgement she let's him.

Back in Oz...

And a cameo by, I believe, General Jinjur

Again, I can see why they used this imagery, it instantly tells you that something unspeakably dreadful has occurred in Oz, even if it's not overly clear what (The scrap of fabric on the barbed wire has a stylised M onit, which probably relates to Munchkins, but is it the equivalent of the Nazi swastika, or the Jewish Star of David? I imagine later issues made it clearer). However I'm not sure they should have used something which has such close, emotionally intense, real-world parallels.

In any event, they investigate the files...

Never did trust the little blue freaky thinkgs myself....

Back on earth Lion has assumed his Animal form as they close in on their quarry, and Tik-Tok has found a gun shop. This will not end well.

Chrysler is dead, but Dorothy manages to blow Tik-Tok's left arm off and he lurches off...

Dorothy continues to track him, but he manages to get the drop on her and loses her gun to him in the process, nevertheless she keeps going.

SWAT are called in but aren't sure they have anything capable to dealing with Tik-Tok, when another portal opens...

Scarecrow smoking? Not a good sign... and again we get more of a clue of the status of the Oz-ian operatives on Earth.

Be warned, that this next sequence is not going to be... nice.

It's the bow tie that sells he's serious there. (Though the "I thought you had it" moment I won't even comment on)

And now,as Tik-Tok's Action spring winds down, we discover the truth that Nick and Scarecrow found out by going to see Smith and Tinker themselves.

Promising that full reparations for all damage will be made from the Ozian Treasury, they return to Oz, open Tik-Tok up and rewind "The Internal Morality Spring (also the name of the story, but I didn't want to spoil the ending), then they wind the rest of his springs up.

"Didn't you?" asks Dorothy, not without a little understandable bitterness..

And so ends the first issue. I think the Ozchwtiz and dead baby jokes put my younger self off of buying any more issues.There are 13 issues in all, across three publishers, and a one-off Little Oz Squad special.

I don't think I regret not buying them, but looking back at it, I think I might like to know more about the world that it created. Hmm, I've also just discovered that the first four issues were collected and annotated in 2008 so maybe I should take a look at it.