Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Read it: The Stuff of Legend

Free comic book day is a mixed blessing. There are so many options but, dammit, you can only pick one book to take home free of charge.

As such, each year I try to pick up something unique or outside my regular pull list. This year’s choice was a first chapter preview for the book “The Stuff of Legend” and, blazing through that delectable appetizer; I immediately added the title to my must-have list.

Just glancing at the book’s cover, you would not be faulted for assuming The Stuff of Legend has a few things in common with Toy Story. Much darker and profound, though, The Stuff of Legend would be more akin to a Toy Story directed by, say, Guillermo del Toro.

Set during World War II, Stuff of Legend begins with the kidnapping of a young boy, pulled into his closet (and the world of lost toys beyond) by the Boogeyman.

The child’s loyal (and some not-so-loyal) toys decide it is their job to retrieve the boy, and so a brave few band together and march into the darkness to save the day.

Through the closet door, the toys become blood and bone beings- a stuffed teddy bear is a towering monster of teeth and claws and a featureless wooden Indian Princess becomes a savage, agile warrior. This is a nice touch since, being vulnerable, the sense of danger becomes very real for our small group of heroes.

What begins as a story about cuddly play things quickly evolves into a gritty battle between good and evil with a surprising amount of violence that demands the reader understand this is not the children’s bedtime story they first thought it would be.

Mike Raicht and Brian Smith write the story well, but Charles Paul Wilson III’s artwork is what really drew me in. The book is stark, beautiful, enchanting and detailed. Each page offers something new and amazing to see.

Book one has entered second printing and will likely be available alongside the first release of book two. If you missed out the first time around, don’t make the same mistake twice. If the content stays this solid, The Stuff of Legend might actually live up to its name.

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