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When I sat down to read this issue on Wednesday, I stared at the cover for a brief moment thinking “Wow, this looks like it came straight out of 80’s cartoons!” Lo and behold, Wendy and Richard Pini have been creating Elf Quest since the 1980’s, and Elf Quest: The Final Quest retains some of those eighties sword and sorcery vibes in the best possible way.
The wolfriders of Elfquest are an innocent race full of heart. They like hunting, for food not for sport, forests, and are not afraid of expressing their love for each other, both platonically and to their mates. It’s hard towing the line between innocence and childlike, but the Pinis manage to make the wolfriders charmingly innocent without allowing them to drop into kiddy territory.
Of course there is some strife among the wolfriders in the form of changing times and surprise attacks. Cutter’s group of wolfriders attempts to keep to the “old ways” by going on a grand hunt. However, the relationship between some is strained by refusal of the hung, and changing attitudes towards traditions.The second group of wolfriders led by Ember keeps to traditions, but find their way of life threatened when an old friend and enemy appear in their holt.
Relationships are the hardest thing in the issue to understand without prior knowledge of Elfquest. Wendy and Richard Pini do a great job of showcasing the main characters and delineating relationships, but there are a few moments in the current issue where some background character knowledge would have aided my understanding.
However, considering there are over 12 volumes of Elfquest available, Elfquest: The Final Quest does a good job of introducing the world, characters, and conflict in a way that is easily understandable to new readers. If anything, this issue made me want to follow one commenter’s suggestion of reading all 12 volumes of the Elf Quest: The Grand Quest set. Though out of print, most of the volumes are around the cost of a normal trade on Ebay or Amazon.
Overall, Elfquest: The Final Quest is a refreshing piece of fantasy hearkening back to an earlier, primordial time. Reading it returned me to the age of 13 when I was first read things like Weis and Hickman’s Dragonlance books, or Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern, a time in my life where I could still believe in wizards and elves. If you want to be similarly transported, grab this issue, read it on a rainy day, and imagine.