Tuesday, March 15, 2011
The final issue of the latest The Stuff of Legend mini series hit the stands last week, and I sadly didn’t get to do an advance review. As usual, the fine folks at Th3rd Studios sent me a digital copy for my pleasure, and I was quite eager to see how they would wrap up the story. Hit the jump to see the review, though be aware that there will be spoilers.
The Stuff of Legend: The Jungle #4
Written by Mike Raicht & Brian Smith
Art by Charles Paul Wilson III
Color & Design by Jon Conkling & Michael DeVito
When we last left our merry band of toys, they were perhaps at their lowest. Separated, on the run, and attacked on several fronts. First we have the animal toys, who are uneasily welcomed into the Jungle by the other animals, while the human toys are being hunted through that same jungle.
As Jester and Harmony are escaping through the jungle, they come across two strange visitors. One of them, the Mayor of Hopscotch, who was removed from his position earlier in the series, and Artic, a member of The Princess’ tribe, who is looking for her. There is an interesting interaction between Jester and Artic, who (from my guess) will eventually come to butt heads over the affections of The Princess. But that is a tale for another day.
Back with the animals, Max (the bear) tells the secret tale of how the Boogeyman infiltrated the room and kidnapped the boy. It was Max, who opened the door for him (something he didn’t seem to be able to do on his own accord) out of jealousy of Scout. The scene is emotional, as Max realizes what he has done and tries to hopelessly fight back. It’s hard not to make a comparison with Toy Story here, as it hits some of the same points as the Woody/Buzz relationship in the first film. However, being compared to one of the modern masterpieces of animations (and movies in general) is hardly a slight against this book.
Max challenges the the current king of the animals, a giant snake, because he sees that as the only way to rescue his friends. What follows is a brutal fight between two heavyweights that goes on for several pages. It’s brutal in that “watching a documentary” way, like two elks duking it out, and artist C.P. Wilson knocks it out of the park.
When all is said and done and Max manages to become the king of the jungle animals, his team mates and friends no longer trust him anymore. If things looked dire at the beginning of the book, it is doubly so at the end. The toys’ missions become more individualistic, and they go separate ways. Some are seeking redemption, others helping team mates, and others just want to go home. In other words, the Fellowship is broken, with Max and Scout acting as the ersatz Frodo and unlikely Sam, respectively, as they go off to search for the boy.
So that’s two comparisons I’ve made to other works, but please don’t take it as a negative view of this book. It honestly is great, and it is working with such universal themes that it is hard not to see these connections. However, there is a lot more going on here, and as always the personalities that make this book a delight to read. There are many elements that I haven’t even talked about here, and just incredible world building all around. With every issue, The Stuff of Legend team takes the readers further into the rabbit hole, explaining some things, but raising just as many questions.
Personally, I’m incredibly exited for the next chapter already, which is going to be called The Jester’s Tale and focus on (obviously) Jester, who is probably my favorite character.
Verdict - Must Read. As always, the creative team behind Stuff of Legend works as a well-oiled engine, delivering a jaw dropping conclusion while still introducing new elements and plot lines. This is honestly the best issue so far of the series.