Written by Amanda Pampuro
The first thing to catch my eye about this Wizard of Oz re-imagination was the dedication: “Thanks and apologies to L. Frank Baum.” No Place Like Home ain’t your grandma’s Kansas. What Angelo Tirotto and Richard Jordan did to the story is like what New Found Glory did to the song. And maybe that’s your thing, maybe you’ll love this story, but don’t pick this up expecting innocent ruby slippers.
The comic does a good job of acknowledging the original story in very subtle ways, names of characters and imagery. Another plus is that it begins by making the flying monkeys scary. This small change—from cute little chimps to murderous animals—changes the entire mood of the story. Suddenly, there is more at stake than the gold standard.
Still, while it does some things right and is great in concept, I think the first volume is paced a bit slowly. This isn’t a spoiler, its speculation: In 1959 a wormhole to Oz opened and all the old timers were effected, the boy who would become the town drunk was likely kidnapped and brought there, and now the Wicked Witch is going to play with his daughter. Okay, so the 1959 storyline lays the groundwork for the present day story, and I get it, the movie laid the groundwork for the comic, it’s a cute meta-moment. But I find it as distracting as the other scenarios in a Choose Your Own Adventure novel, when you just want to follow the storyline that gets you to the zombies. No Place Like Home has a very interesting story to tell, and will be an interesting read when—and if—it can drop the history and move on with her story.
I think to be a successful adaptation, it has to be nothing like its original story. Like the Odyssey as seen by the Coen Brothers in Oh Brother Where Art Thou, or 10 Things I Hate About You being Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew in Seattle and Warm Bodies as Romeo and Juliet with Zombies. Recently I heard an argument that The Matrix is the ultimate Frankenstein story. I wish I had to struggle more to imagine that No Place Like Home came from Oz. As is, it’s just all right. No Place Like Home is a pizza joint with heart, and it’s not that I wouldn’t go back there, but there’s better pizza closer to home.