Think of this title as Reverse Chucky. Instead of a doll terrorizing children, and adults alike, we have a teddy bear helping them.
From Andrew Cosby and Johanna Stokes, who have written the excellent BOOM! series Eureka and Station, respectively, comes this impressively cuddly debut. It had me smirking and fondly recalling my own carefree days of playing with my He-Man figures and G.I Joes. Ah, good times. This is a boy’s own adventure – literally, but it does have a healthy dose of dark humour and adventure. Like BOOM!’s other series, such as The Incredibles, or The Muppet Show Comic Book, this is something parents could read with their kids, with both getting enjoyment from it.
It begins with a scientist running from the agency he works for. Upon creating Artificial Intelligence, he flees from his nefarious employers and runs to the closest toy shop, where he swaps his CD with that of an interactive teddy bear. At the same time, David, a bath salesman recently separated from his fed up wife, is taking his son Zach out for a bit of shopping. After waving masculine gifts infront of his face, Zach decides to go for Mr. Stuffins instead. The rest of the issue is focused on Zach as he discovers his teddy’s unique skill set and gets frustrated with his lack of singing and bed-time story telling abilities. After all, that’s what the box promised! It’s like a premise of a classic 1980s film that was never made.
I could hear Mr. Stuffin’s gruff, take charge voice every time he spoke. He ties up a lifeless pink bunny for interrogation, beats up school bullies and mocks Zach’s parents. Yet he’s a loveable rascal. While elements of Buzz Lightyear and the 1998 film Small Soldiers may be apparent to some, this is still a refreshing concept. Zack is old enough to know that a teddy bear with military skills is not normal, yet young enough to just accept him as a new, though reluctant, friend.
I can see why this was a sell-out when it first appeared, and now that it’s returned with new art by Axel Medellin, it will surely garner new fans. Medellin draws with great expression. His figure work is simple, yet fluid enough and from the moment Mr. Stuffins’ eyes alight and he sits up, fully aware, I was sold on the approach. It has some great pacing and truly witty lines, that I won’t do the disservice of spoiling here. Let’s just say that I haven’t been entertained with cuddly toys for many years, yet I now want a Mr. Stuffins for Christmas.