This is a spectacular achievement. Eric Shanower (Age of Bronze), who's huge into Oz fandom along with his partner, continues L. Frank Baum's Oz series here in this illustrated book from IDW Publishing, collecting his five Oz tales under one cover: The Enchanted Apples of Oz, The Secret Island of Oz, The Ice King of Oz, The Forgotten Forest of Oz and The Blue Witch of Oz. That's 256 high quality pages that could for all intents and purposes be sequels to the classic works. This is what Abadazad wishes it were: a magical, wacky universe with loveable characters in a beautful all-ages fantasy, crafted with a real love for the material. I'm sure that this book serves as an absolute treat for any fan of Oz, but has worked backwards for me and made me a fan Oz. I fully intend to read Baum's works in wake of this fantastic read. Shanower brought the characters of Dorothy, Scarecrow, The Cowardly Lion and others to life with a craftsmanship that could have only made Baum proud, making the life in the bustling Emerald City seem to breathe, transporting any fortunate reader to its streets and off the beaten path on the adventures the characters partake. I will admit that this collection begins with the weakest story, but The Enchanted Apples of Oz serves as a great introduction to the series and is still miles ahead of anything like it. Everything beyond that story, in my opinion, is pretty much perfect. I really didn't want this book to end.
Anyone who's read Age of Bronze knows what gorgeous art Shanower can produce, but this fantasy setting is perfectly suited to his abilities: rich, detailed environments, vibrant colors and top-notch cartooning make this an experience wholly unlike any other as the tenants of Oz battle witches, Ice Kings and trolls, and navigate through uncharted swamps and tundras. I'm surprised that I haven't heard much about this book in wake of its release, but commend IDW for their taste in reprint material, with the new Chester Gould's Dick Tracy also hitting shelves in a beautiful package. I give this book my highest recommendation and really can't convey what a wonderful experience this was to read. Anyone who loves comics has to find something to love about Shanower's phenomenal accomplishment. A+