Collects Elfquest 1-5

Writers: Wendy and Richard Pini
Artist: Wendy Pini
Publishing year: 1993
Publisher: Father Tree Press

Elfquest is one of the first, if not the first, fantasy comic I ever read. Only this first collection was published in Finnish back then and I had to wait for many years until I found the next issues in English. Some years back a lot of the comic was published here in Finland in small, black and white issues. I still have the color printings but the soft covers are starting to fall apart. The Pinis have started to publish the Final Quest and I’m hoping that I’ll have enough money to get the collected editions as they come out. Also, an Elfquest adventure game was published this year. We’ve played it and it prompted a reread.

This first collection introduces us to the world of Two Moons and the small Wolfrider tribe of elves. In just a couple of pages, the Pinis show us how the elves literally fell from the sky to this world but were immediately attacked by the fearful humans. That hostility continues through the whole series. Fire and Flight starts with the humans who have captured one of the Wolfriders. The elves’ young chief Cutter and his friends rescue the prisoner and in retaliation the humans burn the forest where they all live. The tribe flees the flames to the troll’s underground home. But they aren’t welcome there and have to find a new home. The trolls trick them into a passageway which ends to a desert and the elves have no choice but to try to cross it. They’ve lived in a forest their whole lives so a desert is an alien environment to their and their wolves.

The Wolfrider tribe has only 17 members and all of them are individuals. That isn’t yet so clear in the first collection which is focused on the chief Cutter and his best friend Skywise (and later Leetah). In fact, in these first issues the tribe seems at first to have very clear gender lines: men hunt and protect, and women stay in their holt. However, this changes later and rather dramatically, and even in this first collection Woodlock is a male who stays back at Father Tree with the women of the tribe. I love pretty much all of the characters and they change and grow and the series continue. The next collections also bring a lot of new characters to the tale.

This is a great introduction to the story and the characters. It moves quickly and it’s easy for this reader at least to immerse herself into the story. Pini’s art isn’t yet as sophisticated as it will be but it’s already very detailed and unique in style. Each elf is easy to distinguish even in crowd scenes. The style difference is very easy to see in the reprints with pages that Pini has added later. Sadly, I don’t have them (yet).

While on the surface this is a quest fantasy, already the first issues deal with such themes as trust, racism, and loss. Also, the theme of choice versus instinct is clear in the latter half of the issues.

Elfquest is one of the best fantasy series I’ve ever read and it starts strongly.