Review time! with <i>Friend of Dorothy</i> #2

Late last year, I reviewed Friend of Dorothy #1, Brian Andersen's tale of a teenager who is suddenly tasked to save his world and Oz from evil. Now, there's a second issue, and I'm reviewing that!

Friend of Dorothy #1 was an interesting introduction to Scott-John, the protagonist of the book - it was a tiny bit more depressing than you might expect, as Scott-John is very sad at the beginning of the book before Glorindo, the Good Witch, comes to see him. This issue is much more straightforward - Scott-John and his boyfriend, Mason, fight bad guys and bicker with Scott-John's guide, a dog named Dodo, who's a descendant of the original Toto. But before we get into that, let's check out the credits: Brian Andersen writes this, Neftali Centeno draws it, Falecia Woods colors it, and Celina Hernandez colors and letters it! Andersen publishes it himself, and you can buy it at Indy Planet or Prism Comics.

As I mentioned, in the first issue, Scott-John was suicidal at the beginning of the book - he had broken up with his boyfriend and is feeling blue. In this issue, Andersen explains that all away quickly - Mason pushed Scott-John to stand up to his parents, who want to send him to a "cure" camp to pray his gay out, and the two got in an argument, but they're still madly into each other. It's only a three-issue series, so I understand that Andersen wants to get to the saving the world part of the book, but it's an odd way to bring up and then dismiss somewhat serious topics. I imagine this is a fairly difficult time in a person's life (I'm not gay, so I can't say with any certainty), so it's unusual that Andersen even chooses to bring it up.

However, Andersen's dialogue is by far the best part of this comic. Scott-John and Mason are very teenaged, in that they profess everlasting love to each other, act very hormonally, and love extreme shifts in tone. It's a bit jarring to read, because you think that this can't be the way teenagers act, but if you recall your own teenaged years, believe me - it's a lot closer to reality than you want to remember. It helps the surreality of the situation - Scott-John, Mason, and Dodo are on a mission to defeat a crazed Munchkin - because Scott-John and Mason react as they probably would if this were actually happening. They definitely have different types of personalities - Mason seems a bit more ADHD than Scott-John - but they both react like teenagers, and it's endearing. Andersen gives Dodo a fairly caustic personality, which makes the boys' interactions even funnier - Dodo comes off like a cantankerous old man (which I, as a cantankerous old man-in-training, can appreciate) and the boys have some fun with that. The dynamic of the three of them is very nicely handled.

The book zips along - Scott-John goes to see Mason, who has been told by Glorindo that he's part of the team, they fight the evil scarecrows, they head to the Munchkin's evil candy store, they fight "mankeys" (flying monkeys who telepathically (?) control humans), and Scott-John gets captured. Andersen does a nice job incorporating the fantasy elements of The Wizard of Oz in new ways - Scott-John uses gloves shaped like lion's paws to give him great strength, for instance - and while he doesn't surprise us with any of it, really, he does make sure that everything fits fairly well into the world of the comic. It's hard to do anything new with the elements of the Oz stories, because they've been mined so frequently over the years, but Andersen doesn't try too hard to make things unique, he just tells a fun story with them. The character work is what makes this more interesting than your average comic.

I still can't get behind Centeno's artwork, although it's a bit better than issue #1. He has some more details, and Dodo, at least, looks more like a furry dog than he did in issue #1. Centeno's work is still too stiff during the action scenes, and hs choreography is a bit off when the panels start to get crowded. On the other hand, when Scott-John and Mason are just talking to each other, Centeno does a much better job with their facial expressions - it's one of the reasons why Andersen's dialogue works so well, because Centeno keeps up with the characters' emotional states. There is a good amount of action in the comic, however, and it's there that the book feels a bit sluggish because Centeno isn't able to express the craziness of mankeys flying around carrying human beings, for instance, as well as he shows us the characters talking to each other earlier. The colors of the book, like issue #1, are nice and vibrant in the first part of the book, and muted when the boys are fighting the mankeys, which is a good touch.

I always appreciate creators sending me their stuff to check out, and I'd like to thank Andersen for passing this along. He knows what he's doing when it comes to creating interesting characters, and the overall plot, while not terribly original, is perfectly fine - who doesn't love a good "save-the-world" story? I like this issue a bit more than I liked issue #1, mainly because Scott-John has a better rapport with Mason than he did with Dodo in issue #1, and Mason's inclusion into the dynamic helps make it far more interesting. I know one of our regular commenters, Cass, recently told me how to take art scans off of a .pdf file, but I'm so computer-illiterate that I even screwed that up (yes, I'm lucky I know how to type), so I encourage you to visit Andersen's web site (the link is above!) and check out the first eight pages of the book. It doesn't, unfortunately, contain the nice dialogue between Scott-John and Mason, but you can check out Centeno's artwork and get a decent sense of what's going on. Enjoy!

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