Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Stuff of Legend: Book 2: The Jungle

Back at FCBD one of the reads I came away with was from The Stuff of Legend.  At that point I mentioned that it reminded me that I was behind in reading the book and needed to get the third trade.  Turns out I was further behind than I thought and didn't have the second book, either, so here we are.

After the first book the intrepid band of rescue toys, searching for The Boy who had been taken into the dark by the Boogeyman, had fought their way ashore and then brought down a corrupt mayor of a town who used fixed games to maintain his grip on power.  In this volume the toys are still searching for The Boy and reach a destroyed zoo.  Some time before this was the site of a major battle and much of the location is in ruins.

Maxwell the bear, Jester, Princess, Percy the pig, Quackers the duck, and Harmony, along with Scout the puppy, arrive at the zoo in some distress, with Princess having been wounded by a sniper.  Percy still works desparately to keep his association with the Boogeyman secret and to dissuade the others from continuing the search.

Among the new characters introduced are the Knight and Golems.  I love the Golems.  They're a wild
card and originate from playing that The Boy did with his toys.  All they are is clay toys in vague shapes of dinosaurs and such, much like something a kid would make with Silly Putty.  The Boy used to have times when he'd have them rampage through his toys, just stomping all over everything.  The Knight was a favored toy then and out of harm's way, but he was lost when he fell behind a cabinet, eventually rescued from his predicament by the Boogeyman, who he has served ever since.

For reasons we don't know the Boogeyman doesn't like the animal toys.  He pretended he did and convinced Monty, an infant toy designed to be chewed, shaped like a monkey with cymbals, to lead all the animal toys to live in the zoo, but once there imprisoned them and used them for sport, sometimes killing them.  Led by a lion the animal toys rebelled and faced a huge battle with the Knight leading the human forces.  This was the Knight's greatest victory but also a loss.  The lion freed a giant snake that turned the tide for the animals so they could escape into the jungle on the other side of a ravine.  The Golems ended that battle when they came stomping through.

Now the Knight leads his forces to capture the six searchers, but once again the Golems arrive and wreak havoc with the Boogeyman's human army.  When the six make it into the Jungle they're captured by the animal toys, who are now led by the giant snake.  He separates Maxwell, Percy and Quackers from Harmony, Princess and Jester.  The former will be tested to determine if they can stay with the animals.  The latter will be hunted for sport.  The hunting for sport doesn't go so well, as Jester defeats the hunters while protecting Harmony and the ill Princess (a result of her wound earlier).  Arctic, a member of Princess's tribe, shows up with the Mayor, who's trapped in a net Arctic had set.  While Jester and Harmony finght, Arctic absconds with Princess. 

In the meantime, Maxwell reveals that he was the one who invited the Boogeyman into The Boy's room.  He had sought to have the Boogeyman take Scout because he was jealous of the attention Scout was getting from The Boy.  Maxwell was The Boy's favorite before Scout arrived.  The serpent thinks this is good reason for Maxwell to stay with the animals, as Maxwell's actions harmed a human, but Percy uses it to condemn Maxwell as traitor, though Percy is the actual traitor in the group.  Maxwell ends up challenging the snake for leadership of the animals, and wins before Jester and Harmony can arrive to help.  They are informed of what Maxwell did, too, and the group ends up splitting.  Jester leaves on his own while Percy, Quackers and Harmony take their own path.  Only Scout stays with Maxwell, new king of the animals in the jungle.

One other new character is an unnamed boy who's also in the Dark with The Boy.  They're both in a mock town where no one else is present.  They're in houses across the street from one another.  The Boy can't escape the room he's in and can just see the new boy through gaps in the boarded up window to the room.

As with the first book The Stuff of Legend has great atmosphere.  It's all done in sepia tones coloring
to the art by Charles Paul Wilson III.  It's highly evocative of the Dark in which the story takes place.  It's a beautiful work and provides a great fluid movement to the story.  The battle scenes, especially with Jester, are great just to look at, and the bursts of anger from Maxwell are down right frightening.  Excellent all around.

Of course, the story by Mike Raicht and Brian Smith moves those great pictures along just as well.  It's a fine collaboration all around.  Now I can get to the third volume that I originally thought was the only one I was missing.

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