Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Stuff Of Legend

Steve Anderson of Third Eye Comics sold me on this series with one line,"Think of Toy Story meets Saving Private Ryan as if directed by Guillermo del Toro." With a description like that, I thought that Steve was smoking the strongest strand of pot ever created. After reading The Stuff of Legend Book 1: The Dark, I found myself questioning my own sobriety as I found Anderson's description hit the nail on the head.

If I describe the plot, I would only be doing this series a disservice. So, instead, here’s the official solicitation from publisher Th3rd World Studio.

"The year is 1944. An allied force advances along a war-torn beach in a strange land, outnumbered and far from home. Together, they fight the greatest evil they have ever known. Never ending waves of exotic enemies come crashing down on them, but they will not rest. Thousands of miles away, the world is on the brink of destruction. But here in a child's bedroom in Brooklyn, our heroes, a small group of toys loyal to their human master, fight an unseen war to save him from every child's worst nightmare.

Led by the toy soldier known as the Colonel and the boy's faithful teddy-bear named Max, the toys enter the realm known as The Dark. There they will face off against the Boogeyman and his army-- a legion of the boy's forgotten, bitter toys. Fighting to survive insurmountable odds, the toys will discover this is a battle not only for the soul of a child, but for their own as well..."

As the toys cross over to The Dark they are transformed into fearsome alter egos. From there, the story wastes no time taking our heroes into battle and showing that this war is not a child's game. The death of a character and the Boogeyman's attempt to strike a bargain with another proves early in the series that the toys are never safe. We are also treated to flashbacks of the boy with his toys before his abduction. It's in these scenes that we learn about the boy's family and why our cast has taken on this quest.

Mike Raicht and Brian Smith have crafted a compelling story that immediately sucks you into their world, and leaves you waiting with anticipation for the next installment.

Charles Paul Wilson III's artwork perfectly complements the writing. Wilson manages to draw large detailed battles that prevent the reader from being lost in the chaos taking place on the page. The character designs for the toys' alter egos and the Boogeyman are simply stunning. The town of Hopskotch balances a whimsical yet dark look. It was one of my favorite settings and I hope that it is revisited in future installments.

The unsung heroes of this book are Jon Conkling and Michael DeVito. The duo is responsible for the coloring and the design of the book. The color has a sepia tone which reinforces that the story takes place during the 1940's. The coloring also enhances the lighting and shadows in Wilson's original pencils. The real brilliance of the design is that surrounding the panels is what appears to be the tattered pages of a journal. It's small things like this, that help create ambiance while reading.

This is a series that I would recommend to anyone that doesn't read super hero comics. I couldn't be more excited with the approach of Volume 2: The Jungle. Will everyone make it out alive? Will the other toys find out about the Boogeyman's bargain? Why has the Boogeyman targeted this boy and what exactly does he want with his soul? We'll have to wait and see.

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