RICHARD PINI Explains ELFQUEST's Return After FINAL QUEST

Elfquest: Stargazers Hunt #2
Credit: Wendy Pini (Dark Horse Comics)
Credit: Wendy Pini (Dark Horse Comics)

[Editor's Note: This Wednesday Dark Horse debuts Elfquest: Stargazers Hunt. You may be asking - 'wait, wasn't the last limited series the finale - given its title, Final Quest?' With that in mind, co-creator Richard Pini has penned an essay explaining it all - which Newsarama is sharing here.]

Lost in the Stars

Credit: Sonny Strait (Dark Horse Comics)

Someone recently asked, “So what part of ‘final’ did I miss when you said you were wrapping up Elfquest - Final Quest?” Granted, the speaker was being playful - I think - but all in all, it’s still a valid question. We - Wendy and I as the creative backbone of a massive, 40-year point-eared oeuvre, at times ably assisted by others - had spent all that time building, issue by issue, the saga of Cutter, Blood of Ten Chiefs, literally following him through his entire mortal life. Elfquest was from the beginning conceived, in time-honored Joseph Campbell tradition, as Cutter’s “hero’s journey.” We had known from the get-go how this long and winding tale must conclude, and you may find hints and clues in the words and art contained within installments of Elfquest going back 20 or 30 years and more.

Credit: Sonny Strait (Dark Horse Comics)

(Aside: Just because we knew where the story had to start and end doesn’t mean we didn’t allow ourselves the freedom to wander hither and yon now and again. Even though your road trip begins in Boston and your final destination is San Francisco, doesn’t mean you can’t get off the Interstate and poke around the landscape. And we discovered over time that Elfquest’s cast of hundreds of characters certainly had some serious roving they wanted to do.)

Thus it was on February 28, 2018, four decades to the day after the first appearance of Elfquest in print, our publisher Dark Horse Comics released the final issue in the 25-chapter series we called Final Quest. The title had premiered in 2013, so for nearly five years, our fans had been vocal about their feelings of apprehension. “Final Quest?” they wrote in email and posted on social media. “Does that mean Elfquest itself is going to end?” And we, as we’d done from Day One, teased them. We told them that Final Quest was the culmination of a huge story arc we’d planned from the start, and that it would provide a satisfying (we hoped) closure to the adventures of one of the major characters. But, we hinted - again, teasingly - how could Elfquest itself possibly disappear, since we’d already created and published stories about the World of Two Moons in centuries yet to come. These were the tales of elfin shapeshifter Jink, and the rambunctious group the Rebels, collectively known as FutureQuest.

Credit: Sonny Strait (Dark Horse Comics)

There was always more to tell post-Final Quest. There had to be. Because Elfquest was not and is not only a hero’s journey; it has also been an ongoing love story. Not, as you might suspect, between Cutter and Leetah (although that deep connection certainly played a momentous role throughout the series). But rather, between Cutter and Skywise, the two elfin “brothers in all but blood.” If Cutter has been the archetypal hero, then Skywise has been no less the classic companion-to-the-hero - Samwise Gamgee to Frodo Baggins, Doctor Watson to Sherlock Holmes. Long before the Wolfrider chief met and Recognized the Sun Village healer, Cutter and Skywise were united by the unexpected but inevitable exchange of their soul names that remains unique in all of Elfquest. If the connection between Cutter and Leetah throughout the tale has been steady and calm, like the flow of a wide, deep river, then the bond between wolf-chief and stargazer is a mountain freshet, rushing headlong, occasional still pools giving way to stretches of wild whitewater.

So while Cutter was able to accept his own passing at the conclusion of Final Quest as “perfect,” Skywise was left with questions and doubts, too many and too profound to allow him to go on living without his best friend and other half. Their love story is incomplete, because Skywise himself is incomplete. Even in the paradise that is the Star Home, even as part of a loving family with High One Timmain and fabulous daughter Jink, there seem to be fragments missing from his soul. He needs to be made entire, or else true peace will never be his.

That’s why Final Quest didn’t mean no more Elfquest. And that’s what Stargazer’s Hunt is all about.

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