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Elfquest: Jink! Written by John Ostrander with Wendy Pini. Illustrated by various. Poughkeepsie, NY: Warp Graphics, 1999. 1v. (unpaged). (Elfquest Reader's Collection, Book 14). $12.95. ISBN 0-936861-48-7.

Science fiction

Adults, teens, older kids; mild violence, offscreen sex

It has been forty years since humankind made peace with the alien Neverending. Unfortunately, a faction within the Neverending wants to restart hostilities. Knowing that the mysterious teleporting/telepathic woman Jink had something to do with the initial peace way back when, the Doma (head of the human government) attempts to bring her in to interrogate her and get her help in this matter. Unfortunately, the Black Snakes (boosted human telepaths) they send after her merely annoy her, so the Doma tries a different tack: she sends Kullyn Kenn, a barely telepathic tweak, to try to lure her into the open. Although Jink is attracted to Kullyn and has some sex with him, she doesn't remember dealing with the Neverending at all--she has the ability to wipe memories and obviously wiped that one. She also is not interested in helping the human government.

When Kullyn reports his failure, he finds himself press-ganged into becoming an ambassador to the Neverending, a probable suicide mission. Jink, accordingly, stows away on his spaceship to help him. Besides the Neverending, they have to contend with hostile humans who want to restart the war, the jealous Black Snakes who have agendas of their own (and who will take their agendas to more dangerous extremes in Mindcoil), and the significance behind Jink's lost memories and what they mean to the Neverending.

Well, darn. This is one of the weakest of the Elfquest titles. As a rule I like John Ostrander and Wendy Pini's work, and their collaboration is not bad, but neither is it particularly interesting. The story moves too slowly and is too low-key much of the time; it's surprisingly wordy for an Elfquest title, though this perception may be based partially on the artwork (see below). But the characters just aren't people we care about much. As in the two "Rebels" titles (Rebels and Skyward Shadow), the creators made the mistake of emphasizing humans rather than elves, and who cares about humans? The joy of the Wolfriders was that they were like us yet unlike us; there is no such joy here. Jink is a fairly two-dimensional creation (though she would be fleshed out more in Mindcoil), and Kullyn Kenn, while a nice guy, is hardly the kind of lead character whose exploits one wants to follow. Moreover, the situation begs the question: would you send a diplomat with a dubious/nonexistent track record to negotiate in this delicate and tense situation? Even if some people in the government want the mission to fail, would you be that obvious about setting up the poor guy? Would you tell this to his face and expect him to be cooperative after that? Anyway, the contrivance is rather annoying and beneath what we've come to expect from Elfquest.

As for the art... "amateurish" may be too strong a word, but it's close to what I want. This is some of the worst post-Pini art in the canon. The art is stiff and conventional with little to attract the eye. I was going to single out motion scenes as being especially clumsy, but then I realized that even static talking heads scenes are awkward, because the various artists are poor at the subtleties of facial expression; eyes get big, eyes get narrow, eyes tear up, brows furrow, but mouths never change. (There are a lot of closeups of eyes, too, which is very cliched.) There are also a lot of full, three-quarters, and half profiles, which looks very artificial. Proportions are inconsistent as well. The pages with input from Dennis Fujitake (the final chapter of the book) are somewhat better. Still, one mourns for the days when Wendy Pini did all the illustration, and one wonders if the story would have come off better with more adept cartoonists.

Is she happy? Sad? Sleepy? How about him?

Eyes, eyes, everywhere eyes....

Copyright 1999, Warp Graphics

Jink! should be part of a comprehensive Elfquest collection, but it is a weak title that will likely disappoint most EQ fans. It certainly should not be purchased as the only representative of the EQ catalog.

Buy it directly from Warp Graphics!

Copyright 2001, D. Aviva Rothschild


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