Defined as “something, such as a movie, television program, or piece of music that one enjoys despite feeling that it is not generally held in high regard,” I can think of nothing as revered and reviled in equal measure as comic books. Like the rest of my reading history, I enoyed an odd assortment of titles. Most were independent titles not forced to conform to the restrictive comics code. Graphic novels like Maus, a story about Jews in WWII, and the original Watchmen. Monster comics like Michael Morbius, the Living Vampire, and the excellent I…Vampire series found in the House of Mystery. But my absolute favorite was an independent series by husband and wife team, Wendy and Richard Pini: ElfQuest.
Y’all, I loved this series to an obsessive level. I still do. I actually managed to meet the Pinis at DragonCon one year and squealed like a pre-teen girl at a Bieber concert. ElfQuest has everything a great series needs: love, adventure, betrayal, redemption, heartache…just everything. It also had the first instance of the soulmate trope long before it became a staple of modern PNRs.
It also was not for children. There was violence, nudity, and sex. Lots and lots of sex. Skywise always had a woman on his arm…or two. Even after couples mated, they often provided comfort to others. Sometimes that comfort was platonic, at other times it was definitely not. ElfQuest also covered other mature subject matters such as hatred born of superstition, racial purity, greed, madness, and prejudice. It was an excellent story with gorgeous art. One of my first “book boyfriends” wasn’t Cutter (the chief), or even Skywise…it was the taciturn warrior, Strongbow. He was drawn to be a tall, attractive elf and was an excellent warrior. I was in love lol
The general story follows Cutter, the eleventh chief of the Wolfriders, after humans torched the forest to get rid of the “demons.” Trolls offered aid, but ultimately betrayed the small tribe – leading them not to a new forest to call home, but an unforgiving desert. It was there, however, that Cutter meets his lifemate, Leetah, in the village they dubbed Sorrow’s End.
Of course, they can’t live happily ever after. Humans arrive at Sorrow’s End, shattering the Wolfriders’ sense of safety and reminding them of all the losses they’ve experienced at their hands. Cutter decides to seek out more tribes of elves in hopes that greater numbers will provide greater security. What they find are a tribe of elves who have set themselves up as gods…and look down on the Wolfriders due to choices made in their past.
This series is amazing, not just for a comic book but for any medium. The characters grow, change, fight, and die. They love and hate, confront their prejudices, experience heartbreak and loss…and you take that journey right along with them.
If you can find the series, I definitely recommend owning these books. You can get omnibus issues that contain all the original storyline, along with later stories. You can also read most of the stories on their website.
Take a trip to the World of Two Moons and howl for the Wolfriders of ElfQQuest.