I love it when a comic book takes me to a place I could never imagine. The Wind Raider does just that.
This comic starts with an intriguing and virtually silent sequence in which we watch a boy cross a desert in a very strange looking craft that seems to ride the winds. Dropping into a huge crater, the boy finds a mysterious rock. We see the boy smile as he lifts the rock, as the story cuts to the next sequence.
Cut to a desolate town identified as Tent City as four very nasty-looking men ride into town in their own unique vehicles. The men bring their hands together to create a hurricane in the town, which causes massive devastation to both people and property.
Through the sequence that follows, we learn a little bit more about the four men. However, the more readers learn about the men, the less we really understand. There’s talk of Ki Warriors and of a lust for power, but very little pure exposition. What does it mean to be a Ki Warrior? Why do these men lust for power? And what did they gain from destroying a town?
I really enjoy it when a comic thrusts me in the midst of a story and asks me to fill in the gaps based on the background the creators deliver. It shows a certain kind of confidence and intelligence for creators to give shape to a unique world, and then trust both themselves and readers to fill in the places without a lot of dull exposition.
Finney, Loftis and Hardman do exactly that in the pages of The Wind Raider, and that level of confidence in their storytelling creates an exciting experience for the reader. For every mystery that is solved, another seems to open up. We learn about the boy, Joshua, and why he quests for the rock – It’s a means to gaining great riches for his small family. But we learn precious little about the rock itself, and little more about the society in which these people live.
And as the issue ends, and something truly miraculous happens to Joshua, even more mysteries open up.
In some hands, this sort of mystery would be frustrating. There are few things worse than encountering a strange and unique world and then not having guides able to help explore that world. But these creators are up to the job, and the effect is exhilarating.
The artwork by Gabriel Hardman, ably colored by Micah Farritor, is a wonderful complement to the story. Hardman is extremely adept at creating a unique and complex landscape. The scenes inside the town of Arcadia, for instance, are striking in the way that they capture a town that is full alive with odd and mysterious people.
And yet Hardman is also adept at making his characters look like real people rather than simple caricatures. Hardman’s characters seem well-aged by their experiences; they wear the complexities of their lives on their faces like roadmaps through adventures.
So far this looks like a post-apocalyptic action fantasy with strong elements of Native American mysticism and a touch of Sergio Leone. I don’t have the faintest clue what’s going to happen next in this story, but as long as Finney, Loftis and Hardman are working on this series, I’m anxious to see where they take me.