I was both completely lost and wonderfully found when reading Elfquest: The Final Quest. Lost, because I haven't read Elfquest for more years that I could possibly count—not since it came out in giant magazine-sized issues from WaRP Graphics. I never finished reading the story. I have no idea what is going on in this issue, or who most of these characters are (aside from the mainstays, of course). But at the same time I was found, because slipping back into Elfquest was like going back to a favorite restaurant you haven't been too for years, and realizing that their cherry pie is exactly as good as you remember it. You wonder what you have been doing all these years, and why you waited so long to visit.
Elfquest: The Final Quest feels almost like an epilogue as much as the start of something new. The story seems like a bunch of tying up of loose ends and closing of storylines, but I couldn't tell you for sure because I haven't read the preceding issues. It isn't self-contained—the issue ends with a "To Be Continued … ", but it doesn't say where or when it is going to be continued. That was odd.
I was hoping this would be a single story I could read and enjoy, or maybe an introduction to the world of Elfquest for new readers, but it isn't either of those things. I'm not really sure what this “Special” was intended for, to be honest, and, unless I am missing some vital pages from my digital promo copy, there is no “Welcome to the World of Elfquest” or “The Story So Far” editorial to catch me up as a reader.
But you know what, ultimately that didn't matter. Because Wendy and Richard Pini's world is so beautiful, so simple, that I enjoyed it anyways despite the confusion. I loved seeing Cutter and Skywise and Leetah and other familiar faces. I loved all the unique mythology of the world the Pinis created. And Wendy Pini's art—wow, but it is beautiful. This comic looks just as lush and elegant as I remember Elfquest. She has lost none of her skill, and seems to have improved over the years.
Reading Elfquest: The Final Quest was a great appetizer. It made me want to go back and track down to old issues of Elfquest and finally read the story from start to finish, to catch up on all the storylines that are being finished off here. The Final Quest made me want to know more, to dive deeper into the Pinis magical world. I forgot how good this comic is.
And that's unfortunate too. Because checking around, it looks like none of the Elfquest backlist is currently in print. Assembling the trades could go into hundreds of dollars as they are commanding collector prices. I'd be better off tracking down the original issues. I know that Elfquest probably ties a record — with Groo the Wanderer– for the comic that's been managed by the most publishers, but it would be nice to see Dark Horse get the Pinis' backlist into print. Something like they did with Matt Wagner's Grendel Archives would be amazing. Or even something along the lines of Terry Moore's brilliant Strangers in Paradise Omnibus that he recently self-published.
I enjoyed Final Quest, but I am itching to read the beginning and middle of the story as well as the end. Elfquest seems like one of those comics that should always be in print, waiting for new readers to discover and explore, and old readers to come back into the wolfpack.