FCBD 2015: The Stuff of Legend and Thanatos Diver Review

Posted April 29, 2015 by Kierra Prince in Comic Books

Written by: Mike Raicht, Brian Smith, and Nick Tapalansky

Art by: Charles Paul Wilson III and Alex Eckman-Lawn

Publisher: Th3rd World Studios

This is one of the Free Comic Book Day issues that contains multiple comics to draw in readers. And this is a shining example of why I sometimes hate that.

The Stuff of Legend is the main title found within and it gives us a preview of the fifth volume in the series called “A Call to Arms”. A quick set of pages quickly introduces us to the story and it’s definitely interesting. Basically a boy is kidnapped by the evil Boogeyman and his toys set out to rescue him, turning into realistic versions of their toys as soon as they enter this other called that’s called The Dark. It’s cute, it’s kinda spooky, and the possibilities are presumably endless.

The best thing the comic has going for it is the art, done by Charles Paul Wilson III. It’s simply gorgeous to look at and highly unique. There’s no color involved and everything is printed on parchment-like pages surrounded by a cover which makes it look like you are reading something straight of a children’s book or an old book of fables. It absolutely nails the atmosphere. The art is also brilliantly shaded, often with black and white watercolors or heavy line-work, and the “parchment” of the pages almost seems to give it a sepia tone.

The characters are also brilliantly realized. A stuffed bear becomes a real bear without anything cutesy about it, army men turn into real soldiers, and a jack-in-the-box turns into terrifying masked creature. It’s a neat idea and helps capture the imagination of a child.

Unfortunately, the story (written by Brian Smith and Mike Raicht) takes a huge nosedive after the intro because it’s so confusing. Since this is a preview of a fifth volume, a ton of stuff has already happened within the story and we have nothing to go off of.  The comic also seems to not use any actual dialogue or narration which makes it impossible to even keep up. Basically you get thrown into a chaotic scene of animal characters and have no idea why everyone seems to be distressed or even who these characters are. It’s a mess.

The second half of this issue gives us a tease of Thanatos Diver and that was so much more interesting than Stuff of Legend that I wish that it was the main feature instead.

Thanatos Diver is about a girl names Samantha who works as an undersea diver to find scraps of metal. While we don’t know a lot about her island home, it’s heavily implied that this place has underwent some catastrophic event that led to do the destruction, and shortage, of metal. It’s almost instantly interesting and there’s enough mystery to keep you involved.

Nick Tapalansky does a wonderful job in writing this comic and Samantha has some tremendous depth to her character, even within the few pages we have here. Tapalansky seems to write characters extremely well and the few we get within this teaser are all well thought out and don’t detract from the story at hand. His writing is also extremely fun and the exchanges that Samantha has with a rival diver will definitely stand out, especially when her rival helps expand the story by giving us some information about what seems to be some odd forbidden zone underwater.

Alex Eckman-Lawn’s art for this series is also unique and wonderful to look at. His drawings evoke a sort of sloppy childlike art style and he uses plenty of bright colors that are perfect for the island setting.  Characters are extremely emotive and there’s plenty of varied character design that make this series really stand out. The underwater moments are also drawn extremely well and it’s neat to see a contrast between the bright tropical setting of the island and the dark waters of the ocean that almost make it seem like an entirely new world.

Thanatos Diver is so good that it could sell this issue alone. I recommend it for that reason alone as I was hooked on Samantha and the journey the series promises. The Stuff of Legend also wasn’t bad and has an interesting enough premise that I could see myself checking it out but I truly wish that they had shown us a different selection rather than one that leaves new readers completely confused. This is, however, one of the more graphically pleasing issues that I can recommend for art fans alone. Both titles have unique and interesting art that are completely different from each other that it makes for a nicely varied issue.

Free Comic Book Day takes place Saturday May 2nd at participating stores. For more information about Free Comic Book Day and a list of stores participating in events, go to FreeComicBookDay.com.

About the Author

Kierra Prince

Was born with a controller in her hand. Fan of all things nerdy and has a tremendous amount of love for RPG's, anime, and anything horror. She secretly wishes to be a mash-up of Catwoman and Sailor Moon.