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Longbox Junk Elfquest #1

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Longbox Junk - Elfquest #1

276 views • 7 weeks ago • (0) Comments

Welcome to Longbox Junk, the blog packed FULL of comic reviews nobody ever asked for!

 
Not long ago, I did several reviews based around the meat and potatoes of your average bargain bin.  Those title you're practically guaranteed to find at least one representative of in just about any dollar box at just about any comic shop you might find yourself Longbox Junkin' in.  Let's return to that idea for a moment, shall we?
 
The comic at hand is definitely one of those ubiquitous bargain bin finds.  If you're digging through a longbox of cheap comics, I would be perfectly willing to bet you a buck you'll find an Elfquest comic. . .and I wouldn't worry one bit about losing that bet. 

Oddly enough, despite there being SO many Elfquest comics out there, I've never read one.  UNTIL TODAY!  Today, I'm going to see what's going on with the Elfquest.
 
BUT FIRST. . .
 
Before we get into the nitty gritty of this Elfquest comic, I ask an extra moment or two of your time for a little background that may or may not interest you. . .
 
I did NOT get this comic from the bargain bin.  It's one of the more unusual items in my collection.  Not because it's "worth" more than usual, but because of the way I came across it. 
 
I have a copy of  Elfquest #1 that is slabbed and graded (9.8) for some reason.  I found it at a yard sale about 5 or 6 years ago.  It was the only comic the people had at the yard sale, and they had no idea where it came from.  They didn't have any kids and they weren't in the least bit interested in comic books.
 
I found it extremely odd that I would come across a slabbed comic book at a yard sale in the first place, let alone one single slabbed comic that the people putting the sale on had no idea of how it got there. 
 
 And then there was the comic itself. . .a 1980's reprint of a series that could easily be found in the bargain bins.  WHY was it slabbed in the first place? The process of grading the comic obviously cost more than the comic is "worth".  WHO went to the trouble to do this? WHY did they decide to slab a "worthless" reprint? HOW did it end up in a Utah yard sale?  SO MANY QUESTIONS!
 
The people doing the yard sale had no idea how much to charge me, so I gave them five bucks and took home my odd treasure.  I know that this comic isn't "worth" the plastic it's slabbed in, but I've never been able to make myself break it open.  And so there it sits in my collection, along with the other four slabbed comics I own (which are significantly more "valuable") as a mystery I ponder for a moment each time I see it.
 
ANYWAY. . .
 
I recently came across another copy of this first issue in a bargain bin and decided to finally see what's inside, now that I don't have to crack open a slab to read it.  Are we ready? LET'S DO THIS!
 

ELFQUEST #1

Marvel/Epic (1985)

 
 
FIRE AND FLIGHT
 
SCRIPT: Richard Pini & Wendy Pini
PENCILS: Wendy Pini
INKS: Wendy Pini
COVER: Wendy Pini
 
THE COVER:
 
Honestly, it's a little too busy for my taste.  It's nicely drawn and the figures themselves are interesting, but the colors are a bit bland and there's just too much going on.  It's not a BAD cover, but there's nothing in particular that draws my eye. Nothing that really hooks me in.  Well. . .I guess they can't ALL be winners.  Let's get inside!
 
THE STORY:
 
We begin our tale in the far distant past of a world not unlike our own, inhabited by primitive mankind.  During a furious storm, a remarkable event happens.  A gigantic shining structure of some sort drops through a hole in the sky!
 
 
As the massive structure lands, the primitive humans investigate.  The doors open and strange beings emerge!  They appear to be just as stunned by their arrival as the humans who witnessed it. . .
 
 
As the equally frightened primitive humans and strange aliens confront each other, the humans attack! 
 
The terrified beings from the mysterious structure find that their magical powers are weak on this world, and they are unable to defend themselves as the humans brutally slaughter them!  A few survivors manage to flee into the surrounding forest, never to return. . .
 
 

We move forward in time, through uncounted generations of conflict between the ancestors of the surviving elves and the brutal humans who hunt and kill them.  

 
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. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
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.  
 

CONCLUSION

 
What we have here is a pretty decent first issue.  It introduces the world of Elfquest nicely.  Character introductions maybe not so much, but there's enough there to like.  It doesn't exactly grab me and make me want to read more, but the story is JUST good enough to make me want to pick up more Elfquest and check it out if I come across some. . .and I will, because there's a LOT of these comics out there in the bargain bins.
 
The art backing up the story is interesting and enjoyable, but the amount of internet praise heaped on the artist seems a bit out of proportion to what's actually here.  It's good, but not great.
 
All in all, I'd definitely recommend fans of fantasy comics to check out Elfquest, if they haven't already.  They're easy to find in the bargain bins, there are several collections, OR you can read the first issue for FREE (in a very nicely re-colored online version that makes me reconsider my remarks about the art being better in black and white above) at https://elfquest.com/ , courtesy of the creators!
 
Up Next. . .
 
Let's do a Longbox Junk Retro Review!
 
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