The Enchanted Apples of Oz is the first of the modern graphic novels based on American author L. Frank Baum's Land of Oz world, written by Eric Shanower. The book tells the story of Valynn, who protects a garden containing an enchanted apple tree, the fruit of which contains the essence of Oz magic.
In this, the earliest of Shanower's many Oz publications, the artist introduced the lushly romantic style of Oz illustration that would distinguish his work in the genre over the next two decades and win substantial critical praise.
The book was released in 1986 as the fifth in First Comics' graphic novel series First Graphic Novel. After First closed in 1991 a number of publishers took over their titles and The Enchanted Apples of Oz has been reprinted twice by Dark Horse Comics in 1993 (ISBN 0915419041) and 1998 (ISBN 1878574663).
Chapter 1: The Apple Tree
Dorothy Gale, along with the Scarecrow and Billina, discover a castle that has materialized in front of them. Exploring the castle, they find a woman named Valynn, who has been tasked with guarding an enchanted apple tree. The tree has been growing since the creation of Oz and Valynn reveals that if the apples are picked or if the tree died, all the enchantment would disappear from Oz. The apples are golden and have the power to break any enchantment. One apple is silver and holds the power of Valynn's existence.
Valynn says that the existence of the apples were once well known, but she had to cast a spell transporting the castle, herself and the tree into limbo after a magician named Bortag tried to steal some of the apples. After one hundred years, she couldn't stand being alone in limbo, so she re-cast the spell, believing that Bortag had given up, to end it. Dorothy tells Valynn that Princess Ozma may be able to help her. Valynn is worried about leaving the tree, but Scarecrow and Billina agree to stand guard. Dorothy uses her magic belt to transport her to the Emerald City.
Chapter 2: The Witch Awakes
Bortag hasn't forgotten about the apples, proclaiming that his magic powers worked well enough this time to alert him that the apples are back. He rides in on Drox, a flying swordfish, to steal the apples. Scarecrow and Billina try to stop him, but Scarecrow is knocked away and Billina is thrown into his pouch.
Meanwhile, at the castle, Valynn tells her story to Ozma. Ozma looks through the magic picture to learn more about the enchanted apples. They discover that some of the apples have been stolen. They look for Bortag in the picture and find him in the desert, feeding an apple to an old woman. Wogglebug informs them that it is the wicked witch of the south. Bortag tries to tell the old woman that he loves her, but she steals the apples and performs a spell to transport herself to the tree. The magic picture loses the image and Valynn realizes that Oz is beginning to lose its magic. They teleport to the castle.
Chapter 3: Bortag's Unfortunate Past
Bortag wants to walk through the life-destroying desert after being spurned, but Billina convinces him to go to the castle. She calls Drox they begin riding him towards the castle. Bortag tells Billina he is from the town of Glun, where everyone is extremely ugly. When he was younger, he wasn't ugly enough, and everyone hated him for it. Bortag moved to the endge of the forest and began studying magic, but couldn't do much more than create potatoes.
Depressed, he begins walking until he reaches the desert. On the edge, he finds an old woman, the wicked witch of the south, kept in an enchanted sleep. He thinks she is beautiful and believes that if he wakens her, she might reciprocate his feelings. He goes after the apples to break the enchantment, but is foiled by Valynn. When Valynn makes the castle disappear, Bortag swore that when the castle went back, nothing would stop them.
Later, while Bortag was waiting, a flying swordfish falls in front of the hut. The swordfish introduces himself as Drox and said he came from the ocean and flew over the desert, but couldn't get back over the desert without ocean water. As Billina tries to respond, she suddenly loses the ability to speak, showing Bortag that Oz is losing its enchantment
Meanwhile, Valynn, Ozma and Dorothy arrived at the castle, where Scarecrow tells them that some of the apples were stolen and that there is an old woman eating all the remaining ones. Valynn runs in to face the Wicked Witch of the South, with Ozma and Dorothy following them.
Scarecrow comes from behind Dorothy and takes her belt, handing it to the witch. Ozma realizes that the Scarecrow is under her control. As the witch reaches for the silver apple, Valynn charges at her and the witch turns her into a silver statue.
Chapter 4: The Magic Belt
Ozma and Dorothy try to come up with a plan to go against the witch, but all the magic in Oz is gone except for the belt, which the witch is now wearing. When Ozma tries to cast a spell on the witch, the witch turns Ozma into a stone statue, much to Dorothy's dismay. Bortag looks down on the scene as the witch tries to figure out what to do with Dorothy.
The witch proclaims that the only thing Dorothy is good for is firewood as she turns the girl into a wooden statue. Bortag resolves to get the belt and flies in on Drox, who tries to scoop the belt off the witch. The belt gets caught on her shoes as Drox disappears, turning into a cloud. Bortag and the witch fall and fight for the belt, tearing up the Scarecrow in the process. Bortag comes out with the belt and turns the witch to stone. He restores the others and flies away with the belt.
The next day, Ozma, Dorothy and Scarecrow are in the throne room as Ozma says that the magic is draining away at that moment and without the belt, there's nothing they can do. Suddenly, the Scarecrow turns inanimate, much to Dorothy's dismay. At that moment, Bortag comes back to return the belt, saying he thought it could give him everything he wanted, but soon realized that the only thing he wanted was for someone to like him, which he found in Drox.
He asks Ozma to transport them to the ocean, but she first teleports them to the tree, restoring the apples, much to Valynn's surprise. This, in turn, restores Scarecrow and Billina. Ozma created an invisible barrier around the tree which only Valynn could pass through, ending any need for Valynn to return to Limbo. She teleports Bortag and Drox to the ocean, ending by saying true happiness is never far away.
- Nathanson, Paul. Over the Rainbow: The Wizard of Oz as a Secular Myth of America. Albany, NY, State University of New York Press, 1991.
- Rahn, Suzanne. The Wizard of Oz: Shaping an Imaginary World. New York, Twayne, 1998.
- Riley, Michael O'Neal. Oz and Beyond: The Fantasy World of L. Frank Baum. Lawrence, KS, University Press of Kansas, 1997.
|Oz Graphic Novels|
The Enchanted Apples of Oz
| Succeeded by|
The Secret Island of Oz