Wynd lives in Pipetown, the last kingdom of humanity in the world still untouched by magic, and as such his pointed ears are not exactly something people would accept. Luckily his adopted family help him hide them, and try to give him a chance at a normal life. Unfortunately, the king is dying and is working to ensure that the kingdom stays pure of magic. This includes summoning the Bandage Man, a mysterious person whose primary purpose is rooting out magical peoples and things and destroying them. Wynd’s getting a crash course in how the world outside Pipetown works, and it’s a pretty bumpy ride.
One of the great things about Wynd is that by framing the story with a young main character, moments of explaining/exposition don’t feel forced. This kid has been isolated from the world and doesn’t actually know much about what’s going on in it, even in his own city. And despite a young main character, Wynd doesn’t feel overly young in its storytelling.
If it makes sense, there’s a childlike feeling to some of the story, not a childish feeling. The budding romance triangle isn’t the most painful instance of this trope, but it’s one of my least favorite tropes so even seeing the start of it made me cringe. I do appreciate the queer representation that isn’t questioned; it’s perfectly normal for boys to like boys in this world, which is always nice.
There’s something of a storybook quality to the art, between the color palette and the coloring style, which sometimes undercuts the tension of scenes. Otherwise, I love that Wynd is willing to work with the idea of fantasy as meaning outside what we know in color combinations and what kinds of peoples inhabit the world. There’s pinks, teals, lime greens, and so many shades of blue used not just in the backgrounds but for the peoples of this world. There’s pretty great body diversity, with men and women coming in all kinds of shapes and sizes, though there’s definitely a tendency to make motherly types round, and less brave characters thin. There’s a lot of variety in paneling too, which really helps shape the mood of different scenes.
Due to the age of the main character, I have a feeling people will assume the story is childish and recommend it younger, but it’s a solid teen level story. There’s definitely some cross-appeal to middle grade or tween readers, but the story does include several character deaths, instances of blood/violence, and some alarming imagery of people corrupted by magic. There’s quite a few panels of a young man shirtless in the context of exercise, though another character is watching him.
If you’re looking for a fantasy comic with a well-built world and a youthful perspective, give Wynd a try. In some ways it reminds me of Studio Ghibli films, since they use a young protagonist to tackle huge and difficult topics, like environmental responsibility and that adults can’t always be trusted. It’s also a great option for fantasy readers who want something not quite grim and not too cheerful or bubbly. Issues are coming out again soon, so another collected volume is likely out next year. Beyond a second volume, who knows, but it’s good to know that there’s at least another volume planned.
Wynd Book 1: Flight of the Prince
By James Tynion IV
Art by Michael Dialynas
Boom! Box, 2021
NFNT Age Recommendation: Older Teen (16-18), Teen (13-16), Tween (10-13)