The fourth volume of “The Stuff of Legend” brand subtitled “The Toy Collector,” checks in with a number of the toys, the Boogeyman and the boy whose toys this series centers around. Set in an otherworldly realm where lost toys go (and in some cases are taken to) the first issue of this volume is as strong and wonderful as every single one of the previous issues.
Like the entirety of the series to this point, “The Stuff of Legend” is square in format, like “Mouse Guard.” This gives “The Toy Collector” a cozy, intimate feeling. Captured on pages roughly the size of a kids’ book, the imagery drawn by Charles Paul Wilson III, with coloring a production assists from Jon Conkling and Michael DeVito, ranges from cave paintings intended to be rendered by a toy monkey to expressively, intricate detail of a collection of animals in a forest setting with a bed of leaves on the forest floor as more leaves plummet or float to join the padding. The issue is rendered in augmented sepia tones, helping establish the timing of the tale as long, long ago. Wilson relies heavily upon shadow and detail to elevate and animate the characters of this adventure.
Mike Raicht and Brian Smith work well weaving the stories of the lost boy, his searching toys and the Boogeyman together. Clearly, the Boogeyman is the villain of the piece (which is dynamically evident in his appearance in this issue for readers that jump in now). His personality sits somewhere between the unbalanced unpredictability of the Joker and the determined measured extremes of the Queen from Walt Disney’s classic interpretation of “Snow White.” At no point in this issue can the Boogeyman’s actions be predicted. Joined by reluctant servants Cappy and the Toy Collector, the Boogeyman splits his time between antagonizing the young boy at the core of this adventure and tracking down the boy’s playthings to prevent his rescue.
This series began in 2009 and like a number of other franchises it is published as a series of miniseries. Leveraging that model to the best intentions, Raicht, Smith, Wilson, Conkling and DeVito fill this book with a concise installment of excitement and adventure that is neatly plugged into a grander ongoing narrative. The creative team has been in place since the first adventure and continues to surprise me as a reader and please me as a reviewer. A collection of previous adventures exists, making “The Toy Collector” #1 a good spot for new fans to join in the journey.