By Ryan Fuller & Sanjana Baijnath (CreateSpace)
Depending on your outlook, youâ€™re either going to adore or despise this oneâ€¦
We all know the story of The Wizard of Oz – or at least the bare bones of it harvested to make the admittedly stunning 1939 film – but the truth is thereâ€™s a vast amount from that legendary 1900 novel by jobbing journalist and prolific author Lyman Frank Baum that remained unfilmed and unaddressed.
In recent years a number of books, comics, films and stage productions have taken another look – and many liberties – with the modern myth, but this is one of the most forthright, unrepentant and engaging – especially if youâ€™re a lover of gory horror stories.
It begins at the scene of bloody multiple homicides in â€˜Kansasâ€™. A maniac has brutally ended the lives of an old farmer and his wife and their niece Dorothy Gale isnâ€™t making a bit of sense over the crime.
Then again thereâ€™s not much sense to be had when the perp steals hearts after crudely removing them with an axeâ€¦
Once the cops have gone, however, the survivor undertakes a strange course of action. Activating her silver slippers, she summons a raging storm and, gripping the gory murder weapon, heads back to â€˜Munchkinlandâ€™ in search of answers and justiceâ€¦
Her return to the beautiful happy place she once liberated is a nightmare of shattered dreams. The wonderful kingdom is dark and blighted, reeking of decadence, decay and death. Dorothy isnâ€™t surprised when she is mobbed by disgusting diminutive aberrations. She just wields the axe with terrifying dexterity in a deadly dance of destructionâ€¦
Grimly retracing her steps on a once-golden path she makes her way to â€˜The Emerald Stockadeâ€™, encountering en route an old friend brought low and made example of.
He relates the reason for Ozâ€™s decline but does not accompany her as she moves on to â€˜The Stumpsâ€™ and a shocking confrontation with another beloved former comrade fallen on hard and mercilessly uncompromising timesâ€¦
Having dealt justice to her guardiansâ€™ murderer means nothing after Dorothy learns who has overseen the tainting of the magical land and she struggles onward, enduring a similar heartrending reunion in â€˜The Petrified Forestâ€™ before reaching â€˜The Bright Cityâ€™ and a final battle with the avaricious traitor who instigated the corruptionâ€¦
However, even after winning her last smidgen of scarlet retribution, Dorothy still has one last happy memory to ruin and betrayal to avenge when she meets â€˜The Man Behind the Curtainâ€™â€¦
Bleak, nihilistic and superficially feeling like Titus Andronicus meets I Spit on Your Grave, Ryan Fullerâ€™s sparse, spartan and extremely evocative violent chiller is realised with lush and lavish painted artwork by Sanjana Baijnath and carries a subtle but venerable message: be careful what you wish forâ€¦
The acquisition of all those so-long-desired and hard-won gifts did nothing but sour and poison the once-noble champions who strived so mightily to attain them and now the heroes are monsters who need to be put downâ€¦
Visceral, unflinching, possibly exploitative but with a moral subtext that cannot be denied, this is a terror tale to tantalise fans with adult tastes and post modern sensibilities.
No copyright notice that I could find so Iâ€™m assuming Text Â© 2015 Ryan Fuller and Illustrations Â© 2015 Sanjana Baijnath.
The Evil of Oz is also available as a Kindle edition.