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jameson (ST)

[Review] The Stuff of Legend: Omnibus 1

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The Stuff of Legend: Omnibus One

Vitals: Published by Th3rd World Studios • Hardcover: 260 pages • $29.99

I found this a few weeks back on a trip to my local comic shop. I was looking for something else, which they didn't have in stock and so found myself wandering the new arrivals aisle. This little gem caught my eye with its cover artwork, a watercolor piece (or maybe just watercolor looking) that is basically the left half of the above banner. I immediately had a "Wot's this?" moment and took the thick book off the shelf to look deeper. The fact that it was a non-glossy hardcover made it stand out, as did the fact that it lacked a dust cover, the art was part of the cover. The square format (almost, 8.5 x8 inches) also stood out. This book was a mystery, especially as I had never seen the title on the shelf before.

The Story

In short, The Stuff of Legend is the tale of a young boy's toys. I happen to love the Toy Story films so this was a hook that reeled me in further. The basics of the story beyond that are thus... A young boy in New York is kidnapped by the Boogeyman one night, hauled into his closet, and into the Darkness. The boy's cherished toys debate what to do until his favorite, a toy soldier called The Colonel steps up to say that he will go into the Darkness to rescue the boy from the Boogeyman. A handful of other toys volunteer to go with him and thus begins their journey. The story is told almost entirely within the land of the Darkness, where the Boogeyman rules as king over all the lost and forgotten toys.

The heroes are all given a great deal of personality, and they each have a niche within the group to fill regardless of their form. Within the Darkness the toys take on a life of their own; the stuffed bear becomes a real bear (though he can talk), and the human shaped toys take on that form. They fight, and argue, and talk and quickly become as developed and "real" as one would hope, but they are facing overwhelming odds, and struggle not just against the Boogeyman and his forces of disillusioned and lost toys, but also against each other.

The Artwork

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so the saying goes, and so I can only hope to convey my own opinion about the artwork here. The style is similar to that of the cover artwork, a watercolor series of panels in muted shades. There is some color but the comic is predominantly a sepia toned tale that befits the time period of the story; the second World War. In the opening scene and the all too brief flashbacks the toys are rendered as they would appear to any real person. The Jack-in-a-Box is a puppet like figure with a spring for a lower body, the teddy bear appears as such, and the wooden pull duck lacks any more than painted wings.

Their transformation into "real" creatures once they enter the Darkness makes them all the more real, both in appearance, and ability as well as scale. The aforementioned wooden pull duck, one of the larger toys, becomes merely duck sized compared to the human toys, and the stuffed bear looms over them, a fully sized grizzly with all the ferocity and power one would expect.

The content of the scenes is often juxtaposed between the obviously childish nature of the toy beings and the brutality that is displayed when they enter into combat with the Boogeyman's forces. In a way these toys are the US soldiers at Normandy, bravely forging their way into a world that is well under the control of the enemy, and fighting for their very lives. The artwork manages this gamely, with an excellent ability to showcase action as well as the character driven moments where conflict comes more from words than weapons.

Closing Thoughts

This probably isn't for everybody, but I think that it is excellent for those who it does appeal to. The story is a dark one to be sure, a tale that quickly makes it very clear that this is not suitable for children despite the characters status as toys. For those who are willing to get pulled in, however, the characters and their stories will quickly reveal a complex and well devised tale of friendship and perseverance through adversity, of loyalty and betrayal, and of the horrors of war.

Rating: 90% A very solid read with excellent artwork, and an easy recommendation. If you do the digital comics thing you can get the prologue for free through Comixology if you want to get your toes wet before diving in.

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