I’ve been a fan of “The Stuff of Legend” since I first saw preview art for the first issue some time (could it really be years?!) ago. I’ve followed closely, reviewing many of the issues, and I’ve been impressed throughout the entire journey. This issue of “The Stuff of Legend” caught me by surprise, though. The story reveals Max’s betrayal, yet it offers Max, the teddy bear of the boy that these toys are searching for, a chance to redeem himself. There’s a slight parallel to Max being akin to Andy’s Woody the cowboy, though in this case, he wasn’t replaced by a space ranger.
More than once this series leans a little close to mirroring the tale of Woody and Buzz, but each and every time Raicht and Smith bound away from that closely drawn comparison, adding elements that make this tale unique. Case in point: the Boogeyman. Deceiving Max into thinking he is acting in the boy’s best interests, the Boogeyman quickly changes his message, but it comes in the form of an attack that is meticulously planned out on the Boogeyman’s part. The Boogeyman scene is truly creepy, and lives up to every fear of the closets (or the dark spaces) any child may ever have had. Wilson, Conkling, and DeVito continue to make this one of the most beautiful books I have the pleasure of reading.
As you might surmise, Max’s revelation to his compatriots causes some shock and alarm, but considering at least one of those others is a traitor (albeit in a more subtle manner) the scenes become more filled with emotion. Raicht, Smith, and Wilson play the drawing of sides within sides up to maximum dramatic effect. Splicing the discussion of Max and allies with the developments in the Boogeyman’s own camp makes for a high-energy read that propels this story forward with breathtaking speed. There is infighting on all sides, which is going to shift things quite a bit for any sort of final confrontation.
This is the magic of independent titles: you never know what is going to happen. In this book (all six issues to this point) I’ve been surprised with each new issue. Some of those surprises have been pleasant, triggered by the stunning art or the bravery of the characters. Other surprises have hit me in the gut, a sucker punch I should have been ready for, but wasn’t.
Thankfully, this issue is no more a conclusion to the series than the previous issue. It does, however, seemingly conclude the adventure in the jungle as forces rally for and against the Boogeyman. The next installment will be under the banner of “The Jester’s Tale,” as the Jester stormed off, preferring to remain in the dark as opposed to returning home with the bickering brigade of discarded and seemingly forgotten playthings.