It's really amazing how, in truth, ignorance is the real culprit in this world, and that there really are no good guys or bad guys, merely two sides believing they are in the right whether they are or not. The past issues of Elfquest prove this. Rayek and the humans are cases in point. Neither are truly villains. More like victims forced into the role of villains by the ones who believe themselves guiltless.
Let's take Rayek's situation first. If he's the same age as Leetah, that means for about 600 years he's been the protector, provider, and in some ways the leader of Sorrow's End. And he was Leetah's lover for about as long. And then suddenly, in a matter of days, a young barbarian upstart comes and takes it all away from him. And to crown it, it seems (to Rayek) that most of his own tribespeople are turning their backs on him in favor of the newcomers (if Shen-shen's feelings echo those of most of the villagers). If I was in Rayek's place I'd be acting like an S.O.B. too! In many ways Rayek reminds me of the Sub-Mariner (and not just in vague physical similarity). He is arrogant, but only because he knows he wields great power and is proud of it; he is humble in front of his betters (Savah and Sun-Toucher) and his equals (Leetah). Aloof, but only because he feels misunderstood (and he is!). Hostile, but only because he's been cheated out of all that he holds dear and has worked hard for.
As for the humans, Elfquest #9 finally gives us their (our) side of the story. From what Aro had to say, and if it's all true then the elves aren't so sweet and innocent themselves.
I liked the changes of expression on the elves' faces: on page 10, panel 2 the elves have expressions of anger and loathing, but on page 14, panel 2 (after Aro's story) their expressions are of chagrined thoughtfulness. Most of them are probably thinking, "Maybe the humans are right. Maybe we also had our hand in it and we aren't so perfect after all."
I think this incident has taught Cutter a valuable lesson, and something tells me that in future issues, he's going to make peace with humans.
Often we get asked "What special powers does Cutter have?" To which the reply is usually that he doesn't have any powers in the strict sense of the word (like tree-shaping, or healing). But his is the special talent of the far-seer, the visionary in spite of himself. Where generations of his ancestors might have done something a certain way, Cutter will, even if he's not sure why, try to "do it different." Whether this leads to peace with the humans, only time will tell. --RP
It's funny to say what I enjoy most about Elfquest is its humanity and realism, when the main characters are not human and are fantasy-based. It's almost as if I could point to any one elf and say, "I know her" or "I have a friend like him." The elves are normal, and this is what makes them wonderful. Especially the women-- it's hard to say I've seen a "normal" female character in a comic until now. In a world of comics that thinks every hero must have a secret past, and every event must have earth-shattering importance, it is a pleasant change to have characters who worry about the smaller, but equally important things of life.
And of course there's the artwork. Wendy has the rare ability to display the most subtle emotions on the elves' faces. Not just happiness and anger, but also fear, pride, lust, envy, sorrow, and wonder to name a few.
Lastly, I'd like to say I'm anxious to see where the Quest will lead now that the story is leaving Sorrow's End. I also hope to see more of Skywise, who is my favorite elf. As much as I hate sordid pasts, I get the idea Skywise is covering up for a deep inner hurt with all his thinking and star-gazing.
Bloomfield Hills, MI
Well, you could have something there. You may think that we know every detail of the elves' lives, but bits and pieces keep uncovering themselves. The most recent, in fact, had to do with Skywise himself when he was an infant. Perhaps we'll get a chance to expand on it someday. Until then, shade and sweet water! --Richard Pini