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Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Complete Elfquest Volume 3

By: Wendy & Richard Pini

Publisher: Dark Horse Books (November 15, 2016)

Softcover 432 pages

Finished 6/14/2017

Amazon Listing
 


         Say what you want about Elfquest but they are a style, and nearly a genre, of their own. And it has staying power, being nearly 40 years since the publication of their first black and white magazine in 1978. They are now currently wrapping up the series in The Final Quest arc, but that’s not what this review’s about. If it must be given a label, I suppose you could call it fantasy (with some Sci-Fi elements in there), but it is not your standard fantasy series. It stands as a truly unique product.
          The Complete Elfquest Vol. 3 collects various issues of the Hidden Years series, which came out right after Kings of the Broken Wheel,  but for some reason excludes issues 6 and 7- not that it is much of a loss, after issue five the series took a serious downward spiral. The Pini’s, overworked from simultaneous projects, farmed out the writing and art to new people with a mixed bag of results. The writing was actually good, however without Wendy Pini’s art Elfquest loses its flavor. And the art in issues 8 and 9 here, compared to the five before it, feels flat and lifeless, and just off from what a reader of the series is used to. I know all comic art is technically flat, but it shouldn’t feel that way.

          The first five issues however are some of the best art I’ve ever seen Elfquest produce. They are in full color, designed to be in full color, which is a rarity for the series. And beautifully mesh art, action, story, and words together. It took me awhile to get through these issues due to my stopping and staring at for half an hour at each gorgeous page. I was so swept up in the art that I sometimes forgot the plot to the story.
          The Hidden Years issues do not compromise a story arc, but are independent stories which focus on a different character in the times between when Kings of the Broken Wheel concluded. But it is not necessary to have read any of those previous issues in order to enjoy the stories. Just keep on and you will pick up the gist of the meta-plot. They are well crafted stories in their own right.
          The last 150 pages are taken up by the Dreamtime story, originally published in Elfquest II in the mid 1990s. It is a string of stories, in black and white, each focusing on a different member of the Wolfrider tribe and the dreams they had during the long sleep (over 10,000 years) they endured chasing the villain Rayek. It is a fun story, very dreamlike as it should be, and utilizes different artistic styles and points of view than the rest of the series. Some may find it to become tedious after about fifty pages, I certainly did, only because I was expecting something to happen, but this story is more about character introspection than character action.
          This is more a collection of interlude stories. The next main arc Shards should be included in the next collected volume. Despite that, there are some fantastic tales in this volume and I encourage you to take a look.
 

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