I’ve made no secret of my love for James Tynion IV and Michael Dialynas’s The Woods. So, naturally, when I saw that the pair had reunited on another series from BOOM!, I was eager to check it out. Enter Wynd Book One: The Flight of the Prince. This debut volume introduces us to the titular Wynd, a pointy-eared boy who has to hide his magical nature from all but his adoptive family. It’s a book about self-acceptance and minority identity, calling to mind both real world experience and the fantastical. So, does Wynd get off to a good start?
This is a journey story, meaning that a lot of its potential for success comes down to how well the creators are able to establish a status quo just in time to shake it up. Tynion and Dialynas do so effectively on all counts here. We meet all four key members of the traveling party, and while Wynd gets the most attention (understandably, given the book’s title), we still get a solid first introduction to the other three as well. Further, there are already specific dynamics developing between various pairs within the four, helping to flesh out the characters further by distinguishing their roles and personalities from one another.
Beyond individual characters, we also get a firm grasp on the social climate of Wynd’s hometown. The exact nature of how magic works in this world is up in the air because the characters themselves don’t know. What is clear, however, is that magic is heavily suppressed and to be outed as possessing it is to face immediate physical danger. We do know that at least some magic seems to derive from creatures called Sprytles, cute plant-like creatures that call to mind the Junimos of Stardew Valley. There’s also Lady Gwendolyn, an inhuman character of insectoid design. The series’ grounding of magic in nature imagery rather than a sense of the supernatural is charming and feels particularly appropriate given the series’ allegorical elements.
The metaphorical nature of magically imbued people in this story couldn’t be more obvious — the plot confronts and plays with it more thoroughly than even the vast majority of X-Men comics. With that said, it manages to strike a unique balance and avoid ringing hollow thanks to the way it handles the minority identities of its core characters. Wynd never refers to himself as being gay or bi on panel; we simply see him acknowledge his attraction to other boys on multiple occasions.
Not only that, but when said attraction is acknowledged around other characters it never elicits a homophobic response or anything to even indicate the possibility of one. As a result, Wynd manages to tell a story that reads clearly as being about gay pain and hiding without subjecting the audience to actual depictions of explicit homophobia. As such, one can revel in a story where gay characters are allowed to be themselves without bringing up the trauma that is so intrinsically tied to real-world gay identity, while also having relevant issues of prejudice (internal and external) addressed via the magic metaphor. The handling of the metaphor is particularly adept with regards to the character Titus, who is a great example of people’s dual capacity to both hurt and help one another.
It also must be acknowledged that the book is just plain pleasing to look at. Dialynas’s coloration is great all around, but especially so in hopeful and magic-tinged moments. The bright pinks, blues, and greens on display further hammer home magic’s status as something beautiful and natural, not perverse. The characters’ facial expressions are also key to fleshing them out via countless subtle shifts in emotion. We see Wynd’s anxiety, joy, despair, awkwardness, and more, and I can’t imagine not rooting for him.
Overall, Wynd Book One kicks the series off to an excellent start. There’s precious little to complain about here; a moment here or there will feel like it could have used slightly more time to breathe, and the nightmare sequence feels like it could have either been cut or placed at a different point to achieve more impactful emotional resonance. Nonetheless, Wynd is Tynion and Dialynas firing on all cylinders and showcasing why they’re two of the biggest names to watch in comics.
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