Elfquest Graphic Novel 8: Kings of the Broken Wheel by Wendy PiniDISCLAIMER: If you’re starting here with “Elfquest” then you are absolutely in the wrong place. If you’re here because you follow these reviews, then I assume that you already know most of the ephemera and odd little bits of trivia that I have included in my other posts. And now….on with the review:
WELL! Ok, then. THAT’S the way to end an epic series.
For those who have been following along with me, one of my goals for the year was to dig out and read the first eight collected graphic novels in the “Elfquest” series. Those issues represent what I consider to be the “classic” storyline of the “Elfquest” universe. In all honesty, I would have been perfectly happy had Wendy and Richard Pini wrapped things up after the initial twenty-issue run. But look, I get it. It’s difficult to leave old friends behind, especially when those old friends sparked an independent comics revolution and have evolved into a cash-cow enterprise that ensures that the Pinis would never again struggle to put vittles on the table. And if I’m to be TRULY honest, there was certainly plenty of rocket fuel left in the tanks after the first series wrapped. There were lots of unanswered questions and it was not unwelcome to see the story continue.
Wendy Pini added a much darker aesthetic to the second stanza of the series when she introduced Winnowill and the Gliders to the tale. That turn of events would provide for a solid take on an Elric of Melnibone-inspired melodrama that would see the Wolfriders and others journey to the very brink of the known world. And I could kind of see where things were going….but I certainly didn’t expect what happens in “Volume Eight, Kings of the Broken Wheel.” THIS book brought the whole “Elfquest” saga home in a brilliantly emotional and fully realized conclusion that makes me realize that “Elfquest” really IS one of the most important and influential comics ever to be released.
I won’t give too many spoilers. Suffice it to say that the events that unfold in this volume are truly epic. Rayek, who is now an amped-up power hog with true delusions of grandeur, figures out a way to take the now fully functional Palace on a trip through time in order to meet the original High-Ones at their point of arrival on the World of Two-Moons. He hopes to merge the two timelines into one and thus avert the accident that dropped the original Palace centuries into the past, where the first saga of the Elves begins. The only problem with that is that such an action will wipe out the original timeline, and only those who are in the two Palaces at the time of merging will survive the tempest. Cutter, of course, forbids this as he sees no point in destroying what is essentially now the functional history of the planet. But of course Rayek is now well beyond reason.
And then Rayek does the unthinkable. While Cutter and some of the other Wolfriders are out of the palace, Rayek decides to go ahead with his plan and hurl the Palace centuries forward in time. This stroke of madness separates the two groups of Elves. Families are torn asunder. Cutter and Leetah and their children are cut off from one another. Even little Trinket, the Troll spawn of Picknose is placed in harm’s way. And all of this is accomplished with such force and emotional pull that it almost broke my heart.
Cutter and his band of time lost Elves must now figure out a way to survive in this new reality. Seasons pass….decades pass…..centuries pass…..the mortal nature of the Wolfrider Clan has never been put into better perspective. Ahhhhhhh, but you surely know that story doesn’t end there. Cutter is pretty resilient, after all. Lives and pathways are forever changed. Winnowill sits at the bottom of the sea and plots. Rayek’s daughter grows up to discover her OWN magic power….a power that may hold the key to stopping his plans in their tracks. Mark my words, this is 150 pages of high drama that make everything that came before it fully relevant and integral to the story.
Wendy Pini’s art is as expressive and full of motion as ever. Her backgrounds are sharp, her lines done with deft assurance. The whole book reads fast and is chock full of that kinetic sense of movement and joy that have characterized “Elfquest” right from the beginning.
And yes, I know there was and is a lot of Elfquest to be discovered beyond these eight graphic novels. There was the New Blood and Shards storylines, all of the prequel material with Blood of the Ten Chiefs….the Rebels and Jink stories….and I really don’t need all of that to make myself happy. There is true closure here at the end of “Kings of the Broken Wheel” and I’m happy to kind of let go now and move on to other reading projects. I still have the first two “Elfquest Gatherums” to read through, and I might give one of the “Hidden Years” compilations a shot since I have it on the shelf, but I do think that my personal “Elfquest” is more or less at an end.
I still have the memories of people going nuts when these comics first appeared. I can see now why they were so emotionally invested in these small characters. There is a sense of humanity to be found in these pages, and that’s what separates the great stories from the humdrum, in my opinion. The Elves, of course, are US…..placed into an uncertain future and told to figure out how to survive and still maintain that sense of home and security. We don’t have control over all of the events that befall us, and that’s scary as hell. But in the end, if we stick to our ideals and our sense of family…..and it really doesn’t matter if that family is blood or found…..then we can overcome almost any sort of adversity and come out ok in the end. Strong messages from an alien race of pointy-eared misfits, but there you have it.
Good stuff, man. Five stars for the series as a whole, even if I found one or two of the compilations lacking in small ways. Read it. It’s worth your time.
Elfquest: Kings of the Broken Wheel (Elfquest Graphic Novel)
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Follow mode. Because of the dark aura of this particular planet, the elves were sent backwards 20, years in time. Finally, Rayek has grown mad with the potential of transcending Space and Time. He proposes to his kin to use the Palace for Time Travel, but impulsively elopes with the family home before the details of the arrangement can be agreed upon. Cutter makes a deal with Picknose to seal his kinsfolk in the caves, preserved in the endless sleep that Petalwing''s wrapstuff provides. Thus, while rayek has left time from the world of two moons, the Wolriders escape by hibernating; all except for Cutter, who is forced to make friends with Old Maggoty and wander the surface of his world in solitude.
ElfQuest: Kings of the Broken Wheel (official abbreviation: KOBW) is a 9 issue series of comics that continues the storyline from ElfQuest: Siege at Blue Mountain.
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No recent wiki edits to this page. - Cutter's chosen band of elves find themselves transported to an unknown land, where they have difficulty communicating with the strange group of elves who summoned them.
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She battles and overpower Rayek, Zhantee, and even Leetah. It seems that all hope is lost because Winnowill threatens to claim all of the powers of The High-Ones for hersela, until Venka intervenes. When the battle ends, Leetah was hurt, but she wakes up and discovered that Cutter was alive the whole time. Cutter made a deal with Picknose to seal his kinsfolk in the caves, preserved in the endless sleep that Petalwing's wrapstuff provides. Thus, while Rayek has left time from the world of two moons, the Wolfriders escape time by hibernating; all except for Cutter, who is forced to make friends with Old Maggoty and wander the surface of his world in solitude. Venka has one final confrontation with the zeal of her father Rayek. She tells him that Cutter and the Wolfriders were responsible for her upbringing, expressing that she was abandoned by him just as Cutter expressed this in earlier issues.