In a world where magical heritage is punishable by death, a young boy named Wynd must keep his true identity – and pointy ears – a secret from everyone in Pipetown, even if it means he’ll never have the normal life he wants. But when his secret is threatened, Wynd is forced to leave his home behind to embark on a dangerous quest that will put him at the heart of a royal conspiracy beyond his imagination.
From the Tales of the Arabian Nights to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings to Jeff Smith’s Bone, fantasy has always been ripe for escape, but also ripe for social commentary. Whether or not the reader is willing to indulge in such a plunge completely depends on how well the writer can make parallels to real life while still keeping the reader’s head in the clouds.
The way that the story unfolds in Wynd #1 is quite appropriate to its title: it breezes by in a very leisurely pace, parceling out information clearly without the need for clunky exposition or even outside commentary.
Writer James Tynion IV (Something is Killing the Children, Batman) displays some incredible confidence in letting his story tell the story. A simple conceit that speaks volume in the right hands — and voice. Wynd flows.
Where the title was originally set to be published in a one-volume graphic novel at the end of the year, Wynd publisher BOOM! Studios thought it would be a better idea to parcel out the story into individual installments. I have to concede that the idea has some merit. The first issue leaves readers on a cliffhanger that’s both frustrating and pregnant with possibility. “What is the big secret? Tune in next month for…”
Wynd takes place in Pipetown, a hardscrabble community where it seems most residents either work hard labor for the Engineering Corps or for the Royal family. The titular character is a pointy-eared young man who works in a restaurant along with its cook, Titus, and the buoyant bartender Miss Molly who looks after Wynd and her own daughter Oakley.
But this is also a land where magical creatures (referred to as “weirdbloods” by one character, Henry) are forbidden and punishable by death — presented in a rather shocking scene towards the end of the first issue.
The art, by Michael Dialynas (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), both crisp and soft and with a color palette of muted pastel hues, makes that scene even more heartbreaking. Throughout the book, the graphics are presented in a playful, animated manner, which makes the scenes of Henry’s casual xenophobia (bemoaning opposition to oppressive “Blood Laws” after something called “the culling”) all the more unexpected — and resonant. The enforcer of these laws is a character appropriately named The Bandaged Man who oozes spooky menace.
As the story unfolds in a quiet, straightforward manner, certain details that were missed or taken for granted come back into play with renewed gravity, such as Wynd’s ears. There’s also a potential love story between Wynd and the royal gardener’s son that’s treated relaxed and unassumingly.
But is it any good? Yes. Very much so. Wynd reads like it’s just on the precipice of just getting started, which makes sense considering the story’s publishing history. As far as that social commentary I mentioned? There’s no denying that stories about oppression, bigotry and hiding from both are as timeless as they get, but they do seem especially relevant at the moment.
As it is, I’m looking forward to seeing how high Wynd can fly. BOOM! Studios is our acting Shaharazad and the reader is getting the best seat in the house.
Wynd #1, BOOM! Studios, released 17 June, 2020; Written by James Tynion IV, art by Michael Dialynas, letters by Aditya Bidikar, edited by Eric Harburn with assistant editor Gwen Waller.