Modern takes on “The Wizard of Oz” are a dime a dozen; even before Gregory Maguire’s “Wicked” was a best-seller (and then became a smash Broadway hit) we had many in all media forms. Comics had its fair share, with “Oz Squad” probably being one of the most notably good attempts. “No Place Like Home” #1 is the latest comic book to step into that breach and while it’s not a knock-off-your-socks book right out of the gate, there’s potential here.
The basic idea involves Dee coming back to Emeraldsville, Kansas, after her parents died in circumstances around a tornado touching down. If you don’t already see the multiple callouts to “The Wizard of Oz” in that one sentence, you’ve clearly never experienced the book, movie, play or any other form of L. Frank Baum’s classic story. Writer Angelo Tirotto plays “No Place Like Home” as more of a horror story than anything else in this first issue; the mysterious killer, the creepy old man who appears to know more than the people in town understand, the bizarre beheading of crows, the hints of an event over forty years earlier coming back to haunt everyone.
Like most horror stories, though, it’s going to take a bit more to properly judge the writing from Tirotto. Right now all we’re getting is set-up and as a result it’s a lot of small ominous moments with (understandably) very little in the way of actual plot development. That’s what we’ll probably start seeing around “No Place Like Home” #3, as this initial five-part story (the first in a planned series) hopefully hits the turning point and things begin to fall into place. For now, though, it’s a respectable opening script with just enough mood to make readers interested.
Richard Jordan’s art is also properly moody; the opening image of the cyclone bearing down on the farm with the pumpkin-head scarecrow in the field and Donald looking up at it is a striking first page. In many ways Jordan’s art reminds me a bit of Richard Corben, especially the way he draws rounded, expressive faces don’t look like glamor shots but like real people from the Midwest. Jordan’s also good with the action; Donald getting sucked out of the storm cellar is creepy and when Thomas gets tackled it feels positively energetic. The different color palettes are good too; the one page soaked in yellow, for instance, stands out instantly in contrast to the deep blues and greens before and after, and helps set the scene as being in a distinctly different place.
“No Place Like Home” is a promising debut, but right now it’s going to take a few more issues to see just how well things come together. For now, though, it’s good enough that I’m more than willing to stick around for the next chapter to see if it pans out.