This near-definitive edition collects the Pinis' classic tale of elves struggling to survive in a hostile world. Exploding off the page in lurid, Technicolor splendor, the art should enthrall a new generation of pixie lovers. Originally published in the 1970s, ElfQuest chronicles the adventures of a forest-dwelling tribe of elves forced from their homes by evil humans. After encountering some duplicitous trolls, the band of refugees makes its way across the wilderness and finds another, previously unknown tribe of elves. The perils of the trip and the integration of the two tribes make for all sorts of dramatic tableaux. The woodland elves, who are hunters, ride wolves and court danger, while the desert elves are civilized townsfolk with elaborate social customs. The conflict is embodied in Cutter (a wolf rider) and Leetah (a desert healer); it isn't surprising that the two are destined to be together. Perhaps more unexpected is the irrepressible sexuality of these elves. Every elf female has the figure of a petite Playboy playmate, while the elfin males resemble diminutive body builders. With such fabulous looks, it's no shocker that they enjoy scampering into each other's beds at every opportunity, although this is hardly the tale's central point. Rather, the Pinis focus on how their elven archetypesthe dreamer, the hero, the earth motherinteract and change as their world faces upheaval. Subtle it ain't, but it's fun, and the series has captured a loyal following in its 25-year history. Some new readers may even decide this confection of swirling color and masterful brushwork merits the hefty price tag.
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Gr. 9-12. The Pinis spearheaded the independent-comics movement in the late 1970s with their self-published, black-and-white Elfquest magazine. Now the original stories are being reprinted in full-color hardcover editions. In these early tales in the elaborate saga, the elf Cutter leads his tribe in search of a new home after humans burn down their woods. Following an arduous desert crossing, the travelers encounter another tribe of elves, the Sun Folk, and Cutter finds his mate, Leetah. The story lines are compelling, if lacking in originality, and the artwork is straightforward and appealing. It's the characters that have given Elfquest its popularity and longevity: the elves are brave, loyal, and persistence, and the elf tribes not only learn to coexist but also benefit from each other's strengths. Many libraries can attest to Elfquest's appeal to young readers, especially girls, and the recent popularity of the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy may give this a boost. The early stories are also being reprinted in compact, black-and-white paperbacks. Gordon Flagg
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