Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Michael Dialynas
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Designer: Scott Newman
Editors: Eric Harburn, Gwen Waller
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
New worlds are a dime a dozen. That makes it all the more special when one invites you in with welcome arms, making no attempt to bar entry. Wynd #1, from creative team James Tynion IV and Michael Dialynas (with Aditya Bidikar on letters!), is, above all else, warm in its invitation. There’s a real sense, one corroborated by the Tynion himself, that this world has been waiting for years, bursting to be let out, and that it seeks folks of all stripes with equal zeal. The core premise is deceptively simple: in a fantasy realm where magical heritage is punishable by death, a boy is thrust into something beyond himself. But this ain’t no Footloose. And the success of the comic relies on the synergy of the team here and the deliberateness of their execution.
Wynd balances on the knife-edge between wonder and horror, a space that Tynion and Dialynas perfected across three years on their previous collaboration, The Woods. That space, too, is one that works well for this sort of coming-of-age story, one where the darkness that lurks in the world is always just around the corner. Wynd has grown up knowing that he must hide his magical heritage, and keeping that secret has allowed him — if not a normal life — then one where he is safe from the direct bigotry of the humans of Pipetown.
But a part of growing up, especially when you’re different in some way, is learning to live in a world that may not always be kind. I’m interested in seeing where Tynion takes Wynd’s differences, how he blends in the fantastical with the real-world elements. Exploring Wynd’s sexuality at the same time as his magic allows Tynion an opportunity to reinforce any messages of accepting yourself, of deserving the freedom to express yourself. And, because of the magical elements, Wynd’s sexuality can be presented as normal and well-accepted, a different kind of reinforcement and normalization than would necessarily be possible in a story in a contemporary setting—and an important use of the genre which too often goes underutilized. Given the target demographic for this book, young adults and teenagers in one of the most diverse generations in history, these messages, this story, has the potential to be both timely and timeless. (And I really have no doubt, given Tynion’s catalogue of work and his own experiences, that that care and deftness will be manifest.)
The world that Tynion and Dialynas have crafted is whimsical, even for its darker elements. Given the use of water and pipes to power elements of the town, teamed with the choice of color by Dialynas, the comparisons to the work of Studio Ghibli write themselves. But Pipetown, and the larger world of Wynd, are no mere imitation. The small details that Dialynas works into the scenes make this world vibrant, brimming with its own history and culture. There are myriad little details that scream fun: a poster on Wynd’s wall for The Dark Spout, LIVE; the tattoos on Titus of a rolling pin (with ROLL written) and a spoon and fork (with EAT written) presented as just a piece of Titus’s rougher aesthetic; the gray swirl in Molly’s hair spinning up; Titus reading what appears to be a courtly romance in his off moments. And without these elements of culture and normalcy, it would lessen the impact of Wynd’s monstrous form in his dream, of seeing a Sprytle (this one, an adorable, magical flower baby!) for the first time.
If you’re looking to be rushed into a swamp of plot, there’s no sense of that here. The essence of the plot, when it does come, feels just like a natural consequence of the pages of set-up and, basically, living that the book is allowed to do. It is expected, but organic in a way that is hard to pull off. That said, it is a slow burn. I was in favor, clearly, and feel the issue more than justifies its price point—given its near 50 pages of story, it’s really a steal. But the question to ask is what you’re looking for. This isn’t a book that revels in violence; it’s horrified at it.
Wynd is poised to be kind, and warm, and exactly the sort of wonder that the world needs more of. And I’m so happy to be along for the trip.
- The book wants you to fall in love with it, and isn't afraid to put in the work.
- I've never been more horrified by gardening.
- Genuinely lovely pace-setting that I think does the team enormous credit.
- Pacing could be a problem for some.
- Could always use more gay, even if it's already super gay.