Welcome to the second installment of Sunday Reviews with JoeLovesComics, a segment on here where I talk about comics I enjoyed, and why I liked them!
This review will contain some spoilers for Wynd Book One: The Flight of the Prince.
Wynd is written by James Tynion IV, with art & colours from Michael Dialynas and lettering from Aditya Bidikar.
Before I talk about anything else, it has to be said I love a nice hardcover. So having missed out on the single issues, when they announced this comic shop exclusive hardcover of the first five issues I just had to have it.
The special cover is so nice, especially that shade of pink used at the top there and on the back, just gorgeous.
Also given the price, I wasn't sure what size it would be, but it's perfect. Slightly smaller than a modern standard sized comic book, the word I found myself using was "petit". Just fits nicely in your hands to read conveniently and suits the story really well.
For one final note about the hardcover is probably what I liked most.
You might not know this, but originally Wynd was going to be a series of original graphic novels, but then they got split up into single issues and released like that. So what's neat about this hardcover (and presumably the paperback as well) is that it's not just a collection of the single issues, but actually like how I assume the story would have been originally presented. Which just makes for a different reading experience in collected form, where the chapter breaks are different to how the story is split across the first five single issues.
But anyway, enough about the hardcover, let's take a look at the actual story!
Second and final spoiler warning
"To find your home, first you have to find yourself"
That's the quote used on the promotional materials and is on the top of the back of the hardcover. Quite honestly you can see why, considering it perfectly sums up the plot of this first book.
Wynd is about identity, and the long journey some people have to take to discover their identity and who they are. As a book, it knows exactly what it is and that's where it excels. It's simply perfect, in the way that I feel like everyone could read this and each get something different out of it.
On the surface, Wynd is a typical fantasy story. He lives in Pipetown with his best friend Oakley and works at their mum's restaurant and is generally happy with his life.
But of course there's a catch. In Pipetown magical heritage is punishable by death, so called "Weirdbloods" are hated, and Pipetown is one of the only places in the area that hasn't been "infiltrated" by them and their magic. So naturally there are people that want to keep Pipetown "clean". Mainly the villain of the story, the Bandaged Man who gets omniously mentioned and features on the front of the hardcover.
You might have realised it by now, but yes Wynd is one of them. As you can see in the page to the left, he's wearing a hat to keep his hair tucked in, and keep his pointy ears hidden.
That's everything introduced only in most of the first chapter. It has all the elements of a typical fantasy story, a magical world, magical hated outsiders, a villain hunting them, and the protagonist being a special one of said magical outsiders. But it's also so much more than that, it can be simplified like I said, but the way it's executed makes for such a special and often fun read.
So we have the world and the general themes set up, let's talk about Wynd himself.
Look at this double page spread! One of the first (and thankfully not the last) instances where Dialynas gets to let loose and the result is simply so beautiful! The lovely blue sky, the intricacies of all the buildings Wynd looks out over, the vibrant colours that have a soothing pastel feel to them. Notice also up there Wynd lets his ears out, he feels like he can truly be himself up there, in a town where that's increasingly difficult.
Which leads onto another important part of the story.
Every fantasy story needs a good love story at the heart of it and for Wynd it's his crush on the castle's groundskeeper's son, Thorn. Which makes for some adorable moments in the story and is so important. I've seen Wynd appear on a few lists of books to read for this Pride Month and it's easy to see why. The obvious metaphors about the "Weirdbloods" and especially the way Wynd's crush on Thorn is treated.
It's not specially mentioned anywhere, no-one makes a big deal out of it or anything, and the normalisation of just having Wynd & Thorn romantically have dinner by the end is so powerful and perfect. Plus the artwork is so expressive! When Wynd smiles (like that) your heart melts, and when he cries your heart breaks.
Because unfortunately it's rough along the way...
I know I talked about the hardcover at the beginning of this article, but didn't actually show off any of the chapter breaks. The text and the gorgeous illustration contrasts so nicely against the white pages, I just love how well the book is designed.
But anyway yes, that chapter subtitle, "Normal". Towards the end of the previous chapter, there are some revelations about Wynd's identity.
He was found by Oakley's mum, she couldn't just let him die. She helped him blend in for so many years before present day in the story where it all starts to heat up again. It's getting too dangerous with the arrival of the Bandaged Man back in Pipetown so she wants to sneak him off to Northport, a safe place.
But naturally he isn't happy about that, doesn't want to leave the only place he's ever known even though he has to hide his ears. If you didn't get attached to Wynd in Chapter 1, then here at the end of Chapter 2 is where you most likely will. The art just so emotive, every facial expression Wynd feels is shown and just makes him feel that much more real and compelling as a character.
But since Chapter 2 is when all that gets revealed, Chapter 3 shows Wynd's proper reaction to it and it's utterly heartbreaking.
These four pages are the most raw of the whole book, they simply RIP YOUR DAMN HEART OUT. The artwork here is simply incredible. The pain and raw emotion in his face, in his eyes, the tears, the anger, the heartbreak when he imagines having a normal life with the boy of his dreams. Every single damn emotion is on display here, even without the dialogue it's utterly heartbreaking. But then the conversation with Oakley, the sheer hatred of who he is, the enlarged capital letters at times by Bidikar to emphasise and drive home the moment.
"I know it's impossible, I know I don't get that kind of happy ending..."
Like I WAS CRYING ALREADY, THEN I WANT TO ALMOST SCREAM. Some moments in comics you feel deep in your heart, and this was certainly one of them. The sheer emotional power of Wynd just letting go.
Remember that quote from the beginning?
"To find your home, first you have to find yourself"
I mentioned that this was a book about identity, and how that quote perfectly summed those themes up. Well that's no clearer anywhere but in that scene there. He even claims earlier that "I want to stay here. This is my home. This is where I fit in" and notes that "I don't want to show people my ears!" highlighting the heartbreaking truth both for him and unfortunately for many people in our real world. That sometimes it's easier to deny a part of yourself if it means you can be "happy", he was happy working at the restaurant, catching glances at Thorn.
Eventually though, he has to face that part of him he's been denying. It's never easy, but that's the character journey who goes on throughout the book.
Which leads nicely into my last point.
Here his character development throughout the book is clearly reflected. Even in the names where in the start it's a nightmare, but in the end it's just a dream makes it clear.
In the beginning, he is scared of who he is, of transforming into some monsterous being. Especially with how Oakley would see him, since in his nightmare he imagines her literally attacking this new form he transformed into. Another showcase for just how gorgeous Dialynas' art can be, especially the colours. Something about soft and soothing the blues are in this book I absolutely love. Then some brilliant lettering by Bidikar, especially with those sounds effects towards the end of the nightmare.
Whereas by the end of the book he has fully embraced himself, the magic within him and his newly formed wings.
Another one of many breathtaking splash pages in the book. I mean look at those vibrant colours! Simply glorious.
At last, he is finally content.
What I've just talked about is only a part of the book, there's so much more actual story I didn't even touch on! But if you read this whole article, first of all, thank you. Second of all, if you haven't read Wynd Book One, I hope this article convinces you to. I only spotlighted the eponymous character himself, Wynd, but there's also so many different elements to the story that makes it great.
In general such a fun, exciting, emotional read with compelling characters and lots of adventure, perfect for Pride Month. Highly recommend.
This article was written by JoeLovesComics, who you can follow over on Twitter for (albeit shorter) thoughts on comics he loves.