This week saw the release of Boom! Studios’ new title, “Wynd #1.” The story follows Wynd, a boy marked with magic that his world shuns, as he embarks on an adventure with his best friend (Oakley), his heart’s desire (Thorn) and the crowned prince (Vorick). It is an ensemble cast that offers a bounty of potential, in a story that promises the same.
“Wynd #1” is an exciting foray into queer high fantasy, something that we’re seeing a lot of in Dungeons and Dragons communities, which have bled into the comic scene in a big way. Both the McElroy family’s “The Adventure Zone” and the Matthew Mercer-led “Critical Role” podcasts have birthed successful graphic novels that prove there is a contemporary market for these stories, whose queer themes and subtexts have spawned lively fandom communities. In short, it is evident that these stories are desired, which makes “Wynd #1” dynamic and exciting. It also goes beyond subtext; “Wynd” is queer from its opening pages.
To start, the comic’s titular protagonist is about as coded as they come. Blue hair, a troubling secret and a name like Wynd? You can see the gay coming from a mile away.
“Wynd #1” opens with a nightmare sequence that is jarring without being graphic and visually interesting without being busy. As Wynd sleeps, his body violently transforms. Sprouting feathers and spitting out his teeth to make way for a gnarly set of chompers, Wynd watches helplessly as he is consumed by the creature. And worse — when Oakley, Wynd’s best friend and housemate, comes to investigate, she delivers what very well may be a fatal blow.
The sentiment in these opening panels is one so often felt by closeted individuals, one that elicits immediate empathy at the pain and fear of hiding an intrinsic part of one’s self. But the world of “Wynd” articulates the idea that this is a story world that dwells in queer pain. When Thorn, the apple of what appears to be both Wynd and Prince Vorick’s eyes, is introduced, we see that queer attraction isn’t what is condemned in this world — it’s classism. It is a royal hierarchy that meets Thorn’s apparent crush with disdain, rather than the object of his desires. The establishment of relationships in this issue is revealing of the role interpersonal relationships will have in the coming issues, with these relationships already doing some narrative heavy lifting.
As the comic develops, it becomes clear that subversion is the name of the game. As the story moves, many readers will likely notice that supplementary characters, save Oakley and her mother Molly, are all shades of white. What is initially disheartening, however, is sharply eased upon the introduction of a very Black royal family. Not only this, but also the knights who guard the castle, the majority of characters that would be held in high esteem, appear to be Black and Brown folks.
It is in these faces that credit is due to artist Michael Dialynas. The diversity of skin tones and character color palettes and the way it plays against saturated landscapes is masterful. In the flourishing greens of Thorn’s garden, audiences are introduced to the doom and gloom antagonist of the story — the fearsome Bandaged Man. The choice to make this introduction in the daylight hues of the royal garden, rather than in the angsty and oppressive shadows of Vorick’s chambers, is evidence to the way Dialynas keeps the story moving in an interesting way.
All in all, “Wynd #1” is a swift introduction that ends too quickly.
The delightful 46-page introduction to the world feels packed with information, but remains easy to follow. Almost too easy — at times the breadcrumbs of plot development are more like a full course meal. Of course, in this high fantasy epic there’s certainly no time for subtlety. It is a delight that in the introduction, each of the characters promised to carry this story offer clear archetypes that will play well in conversation with one another. In a nutshell, “Wynd” offers the promise of a rich epic that is sure to leave readers wanting more.
Contact Areyon Jolivette at [email protected].