Review - Oz - Age of Darkness One-Shot

"They came out of nowhere! Just...BOOM...and there they were! The Warlord, some flying gorillas, and a horde of demons!"

Oz is a kingdom of peace, love and happiness. That is, when it's not in the process of besiegement by all manner of evil forces. When those forces have a leader to rally around, then that's when things get even more difficult for that whole prosperity thing. Enter Oz - Age of Darkness One-Shot from Zenescope Entertainment. The issue is written by Jeff Massey, illustrated by Lalit Kumar Sharma and Antonio Bifulco, inked by Vinod Kumar and Bifulco, colored by Hedwin Jimenez Zaldivar and lettered by Jim Campbell.

It's the future of Oz and Dorothy rules supreme as Queen of Oz. The kingdom has seen 75 years of prosperity, until the Dark Queen releases the Warlord from his emerald prison and back into the realm. His mission is to reclaim the throne of Oz that he feels wrongfully taken from him and he'll go through any and all obstacle to do so. The question becomes whether or not anyone can escape the Warlord with their life or is Oz and all of its citizens destined for doom?

The issue leads directly into Grimm Fairy Tales #100 and that's really all the issue is--set-up for the upcoming milestone for the publisher. Massey's script does its job in that regard, but the story is a little choppy in its delivery. A lot of it is done for effect in showing the different ares of the kingdom and paralleling their states before and after the carnage, but it's a lot to take in. It almost feels as if Massey crammed three-issues worth of material into a one-shot in some ways. Otherwise, the story itself definitely fits in with the Grimm Fairy Tales mythos. There's not much needed in the way of characterization, as these are very well defined as it is within the universe.

Most of the art in the book looks pretty clean. The characters are presented in a way that's very well defined and and fits the action appropriately. There's a ton of action in the book as well and both Sharma and Bifulco present it in a way that's extremely kinetic and explosive. There are some parts of the book that feel a little different compared to the rest of the book and it could be due to the two different artists. It's largely consistent throughout, even if there are some spots that look a little disjointed. The art is very solid throughout the book for the most part, offering very strong representations of an Oz in peril.

Oz - Age of Darkness One-Shot is steeped in Zenescope mythos and for new readers, it might be a little difficult to take in. It's not impossible, but there are some very involved storylines that the book drops right in the middle of. Massey does a very admirable job of presenting the story in a way that's fairly easily accessible, despite there being quite a bit to take in overall. Sharma and Bifulco offer some pretty strong artwork that's befitting of the setting of Oz and its inhabitants. Oz - Age of Darkness One-Shot gets things moving in a narrative direction for the Zenescope universe and should be viewed as required reading if you're steeped in said universe. If you're looking to get into Zenescope books, the events in Oz - Age of Darkness One-Shot may be a little more involved than expected.

Oz - Age of Darkness One-Shot hits stores July 9.