Review by Jeff Marsick
When George Lucas was soliciting design ideas from his creative team for Darth Maul’s look, his order was, “Think of your worst nightmare and draw that.” As the story goes, one designer submitted a concept that George took one look at, paused, and then said, “Okay, give me your SECOND worst nightmare.” I thought of that story while reading Legends: The Enchanted because only from the skulking shadows of nightmare could someone create such a dour and apocalyptic take on popular children’s fairy tales.
The Enchanted are all of the fairy tale characters we’ve met as children, immortals who are protected from harm by special magic. They exist in such uplifting-sounding realms like the Bionic Woodlands, Krakenfield, and the Acid Wastelands, areas so dark and forlorn they make Mordor look like a tropical resort. Forget what Disney’s fed you. Mr. Percival’s lifted up the toilet seat and pointed into the recesses a brush can’t reach. That’s where his Enchanted live, co-existing in a solid-state juxtaposition of technology and magic. However, the magic that’s kept the likes of Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, Goldilocks, and Jack the Giant Killer free from mortal injury is being siphoned away, leaving them at the mercy of goblins and other nasties who hunt them. And with Pinocchio’s demise early on setting the standard, an Enchanted’s end is typically by means vicious and merciless. It’s up to Jack (fortified with short bursts of super-powers after munching from his cache of magic beans) and Snow White to find the heart of the conspiracy against them and carve it out.
Sure, the characters and abilities are a sort of X-Men as imagined by the brothers Grimm (for some reason my favorite concept is the speedster: Jack Nimble), it’s the painted artwork that makes this book so remarkable. While the wolves, giants and goblins are industrial-grade horrors, and frightening is too tame to describe the Hag and her Troll (the one infamous for giving the goats Gruff so much grief; and is easily one of the most terrifying monsters ever to land on a comic book page), the most disturbing rendition has to be that of Humpty Dumpty, who is repulsive enough to cause a reflexive spasm of the gag reflex. As wondrously haunting as he can make the dark side, Mr. Percival is just as capable of imparting some measure of lethal sexiness to the heroines Snow White, Goldilox, and Rapunzel. It’s gorgeous and stunning work.
Nick Percival’s got issues. I’m sure of it. And Heaven bless him for it because his twisted vision is not only one of the best things I’ve read all year, but easily a top three book from Radical. It’s no wonder this book has been optioned for a movie and I personally think Timur Bekmambetov should be given the directorial reigns. Radical’s hardcover presentation is no slouch, beautiful with an embossed cover beneath a dust jacket. I normally don’t endorse hardcovers since I think trade paperbacks are just as nice and come at a more affordable price, but Legends is a book that is totally worth the hardcover price. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.