Lasting only 9 issues, this series was described by Oz enthusiast Steve Teller as "the most repellent published work with the name Oz in the title I have ever seen." While the short-lived comic did not suit all tastes, it certainly managed to be an original take on L. Frank Baum's classic tales. Steven Ahlquist wrote the comic; Andrew Murphy and Terry Loh were the principal illustrators. Issues were published by Patchwork Press and Brave New Words beginning in 1991.
In this version of reality, the other-dimensional Land of Oz has established diplomatic relationships with earth. The Gale Force, consisting of the original Wizard of Oz Emerald City seekers, works to smooth problems between the two places.
Dorothy Gale heads the organization. The slippered adventurer is now over 100 years old but physically she remains a young adult, for reasons which are never explained. The Lion can transform into human form at will. No longer cowardly, he acts an awful lot like a conventional action hero. Nick, aka the Tin Man, resembles a cross between the original character and a Battlestar Galactica Cylon. The Scarecrow has become a brooding, somewhat nihilistic figure, who smokes cigarettes, listens to Nine Inch Nails, and read "Edwardian porno occult trash." In issue #1, he rescues a falling baby, who responds with a goo. "You almost were," cracks the Scarecrow of Oz.
A good sense of the series may be gleaned from the plot of the first issue, where Tik Tok, Oz's famous thinking machine, visits earth and goes on a psychotic killing spree. We ultimately learn that, just as Baum's Tok has both a "thinking" and an "action" internal clockwork spring, one of which would occasionally wind down before the other, he also has a morality spring. Of course, it has been designed for Oz, where moral decisions tend to be black and white. Morality in our universe is rather more complex, and so the morality spring ran down very quickly, causing his savage criminal behaviour.
The series features a detailed background which was never adequately developed, but which gave its world a sense of depth. Ahlquist's Oz features a now-closed death camp called "Ozchwitz;" it remains unclear whether the Wicked Witch of the West or the Great and Terrible Oz was responsible for this particular atrocity.
Although short-lived, Oz Squad has achieved cult status; fans include Kevin Smith. Issues remain popular with collectors.
Ahlquist has also written a Little Oz Squad comic, reworking the classic characters as little kid-friendly superheroes.
Steven Ahlquist and Andrew Murphy. Oz Squad #1. Providence: Brave New Words, October 1991.
"The Dark Side of Oz." Timeline Universe http://www.timelineuniverse.net/Oz/DarksideofOz.htm#OzSquad