We find ourselves witnessing a band of humans preparing a ritual sacrifice. . .a captured elf. Watching from the forest are a band of would-be rescuers. Wolfriders, led by an elf called Cutter. On his command, the band of elves and wolves rush forward on the attack!
Taken by surprise, the battle against the humans is short and brutal. The captive elf, Redlance, is rescued. Cutter leaves the leader of the men alive as a warning to others, before fleeing back into the forest to return home. . .
But while the news of Redlance's rescue is cause for celebration among the elves, the humans mourn the deaths from the raid, and the shaman that Cutter spared swears by his savage that he will have revenge on the elves!
Later that night, while Cutter and his friend, Skywise, ponder the events of the raid, they are alerted to danger by the howling of wolves! They learn through their ability to telepathically communicate with their animal allies that a band of men are coming to attack the elven stronghold!
Cutter quickly uses telepathy to summon elven warriors to defend against the coming attack. . .
As Cutter and his Wolfriders confront the approaching humans, he tries to warn them away. . .if the forest is burned, then both human AND elf will suffer greatly. But the human shaman has sworn revenge in the name of his and refuses to listen to reason!
A short, brutal battle ensues. The human shaman is killed, but not before he and his followers set the forest ablaze! Cutter rushes ahead of the fire back to the elven camp and frantically tries to help his tribe evacuate as the flames approach. . .but the fire spreads quickly and their escape is cut off!
They have no choice but to try and make it to the mysterious caverns of the trolls if his tribe is to survive. . .
The desperate elves arrive at the caverns, only to find the door guard reluctant to let them in. Cutter manages to force his way inside as the fire rages behind them, destroying their home. . .
As the door to the cave is closed behind them, the elves mourn the loss of their home, and are guided through the twisted tunnels of the caverns to meet the King of the trolls to explain the reason they've trespassed on his secretive kingdom. . .
The elven refugees are led deep into the underground kingdom by their reluctant guides, until they finally arrive in a vast hall and find themselves before the throne of Greymung the Shiftless, Mighty King of the Trolls!
To Be Continued. . .
Okay then. There it is. Elfquest #1. Let's break it on down!
When it comes to first issues, there's a bare minimum level of what I expect to find. Two things. . .just TWO things. First, does it introduce the characters and their situation in a new reader-friendly way? Second, does it make me want to read more? Is that too much to ask? I don't think so.
As far as introduction goes. . .not bad. Not great, but I've seen worse. You don't really learn too much about Cutter and his band of elves in this issue. It's a little lacking in that area. But where this issue DOES do a great job of introduction is to the world itself and the general conflict between man and elf.
I really found it interesting that the elves are actually aliens to this world. It's only mentioned in the first couple of pages, but THAT'S the story that I'm interested in. I'm not sure if it's covered in future issues, but that's what interested me most about this story. The rest of it was pretty much setup to get Cutter and his tribe out of a settled place and on the move.
Thinking about it, the general story here resembles a sort of fantasy Battlestar Galactica, if you will. A small band of survivors forced to flee their homes after an apocalyptic attack, searching for a new home while being pursued by a brutal enemy. The good news is, I'm a huge Battlestar Galactica fan, so the resemblance (whether intentional or not) is okay with me.
But does it make me want to read more?
Wellllll. . .maybe? I wouldn't mind reading more of this story, but at the same time, this first issue doesn't exactly make me want to run right out and find more Elfquest. Like I said, it follows a very familiar story path with a coat of fantasy paint slapped on.
This series has been around for a long time and there's a LOT of Elfquest comics out there. . .so logic tells me that there's SOMETHING here that people have enjoyed. But is it the art? More on THAT in a bit, but most of what I see when I do a bit of internet research on this series revolves around the art and not the story. Does the story get any better? Does it step off of the "Fantasy Battlestar Galactica" trail that this issue firmly sets it out on? Do I want to find out?
You know what? I think I might. I'd give the next few issues a read, anyway. I like this world enough to give the story a chance. Maybe not a BIG chance, but like I said. . .a few more issues would let me know if I wanted to get deeper down the massive 30+ year and running Elfquest rabbit hole.
SO. . .
The story mostly meets the expectations I have for a first issue. Let's talk about the art.
Like I said above, when you look up Elfquest on the internet, you're going to get mostly talk about Wendy Pini's art. So generally, the art is considered the star of the Elfquest show. I guess I can say that the art DOES deserve top billing in this issue. It's actually pretty unique and interesting.
It's cartoony, yet detailed. There are nice cinematic angles and interesting character designs. Overall, the art style is certainly eye-catching. But judging from the amount of praise heaped on Wendy Pini online, one would THINK that she's one of the greatest comic artists out there. I disagree.
I'm not here to knock anyone off their pedestal, but I'm also here to be honest. For THIS comic, Pini's art is great. I'm not sure it would work very well outside these pages. And to be fair, Pini seems to have not strayed far from Elfquest in order to find out.
To compare, I do have the "Beauty and The Beast: Portrait of Love" one shot tie in to the late 80's Beauty and The Beast T.V. show, which features some of Pini's fairly infrequent non-Elfquest work. . .
From the looks of it, I'm thinking she's very smart to just stay in her fantasy lane.
THAT SAID. . .
Pini's art in THIS comic is interesting, engaging, and quite enjoyable.
The colors, on the other hand, vary wildly from bland to gaudy. The Marvel/Epic Elfquest series is a reprint of the original series, which was in black and white. Honestly, it probably should have stayed that way.
I went online and took a look at Elfquest in black and white and, even though I'm not much of a fan of black and white comics, I think that something was actually lost by "improving" the art with color.