Overview

The Stuff of Legend Volume I: The Dark, Book I

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The Stuff of Legend Volume I: The Dark, Book I

Credits

  • Words: Mike Raicht & Brian Smith
  • Art: Charles Paul Wilson III
  • Colors: Jon Conklling & Michael Devito
  • Story Title: Chapter 1:The Battle of Brooklyn Creek
  • Publisher: Th3rd World Studios
  • Price: $4.99
  • Release Date: Jul 27, 2009

When the Boogeyman kidnaps a young boy; his favorite army soldier, the Colonel, gathers a ragtag group of toys to enter the dark unknown of the closet.

Imagine if Andy in Toy Story was kidnapped. Buzz, Woody and the gang would run off to rescue him, right? Well, there would probably be a crazy committee meeting where Rex and Hamm tried to get out of it first, but they would man up eventually. That is how The Stuff of Legend begins. It quickly takes on a more serious, brooding and darker tone than the Pixar film though. Its setting and less playful narrative add to this sense, but do not be mistaken: this comic is no less magical.

The first thing that stands out about this book is the design. This 8 inch by 8 inch square book opens to reveal a wood-grained scrap book. (It is flat and on glossy paper, but you get the idea.) It is tattered, aging - brittle at the corners - and the panels make up the pictures filling it. The muted coloring of the book adds to the feel that the reader has a monochromatic relic, an artifact in front of him. All of this creates a sense of history unlike any graphic narrative this reader has ever seen.

There is fluidity to the art. The character designs are classic but not specific. What could be generic toys become familiar instead. These are items you remember in your grandfather’s attic - their names forgotten, but their timelessness unmistakable. There is no product placement going on, but you are sure you had a few of these items. The flow of the story and the art brings these toys to the brink of animation. This is a rich tapestry, a story board waiting to be harvested by a skilled film maker.

Then there is the narrative itself. When the Boogeyman kidnaps a young boy; his favorite army soldier, the Colonel, gathers a ragtag group of toys to enter the dark unknown of the closet. The mission is to rescue their friend. Once through the door, a fight breaks out, the toys take on a realness devoid in their life at home, and the depths of evil are explored.

The Stuff of Legend is The Indian in the Cupboard through a looking glass dropped off by a tornado. The allusions to World War II and the events on a beach in Normandy on a fateful sixth day of June are thick and obvious, but still manage to avoid feeling contrived. Raicht and Smith are using the Greatest Generation to create a new mythology. The Boogeyman is crafty, yet charismatic: he is Hitler through a fantasy filter. He’s built an army from the boy’s neglected toys and using his forked tongue, he is eager to create a Judas that will assist him as he works to destroy the forces of good.

From the introductory chapter, to the battles at the border of the world inside the closet, to the more frightening revelations of the enemy and his plan, this book never stops. It puts you on the edge of your seat like a Hitchcock masterpiece. What is even more astonishing is that it pulls off its foreboding tone without ever falling on the crutch of graphic violence or language. There is nothing here that is not all-ages appropriate, but like Mirrormask, it doesn’t play as something that should be given to a toddler. It is deep and resonates in your mind. You ponder why it bothers you, but there is nothing outwardly offensive or questionable. It is as terrifying as any horror film, but not shocking.

This a powerful debut that is true to its title. It weaves an extraordinary allegory, rich with action and emotion. A wonderful comic odyssey begins here - be sure to get in on the ground floor of what is sure to become a water cooler topic book.

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