And so we present...
Alan's Top Five Most-Liked Elfquest Characters
Though just introduced recently in the second Wild Hunt arc, this guy rocks! He may have a cliche Mysterious Past, but this is probably the most interesting human ever to reach Elfquest. His logic and use of reason clearly goes beyond that of most of his comrades. And if I understood issue 26 correctly, he's a family man as well as a hunter. If nothing else, a well-explored Lehrigen will be better than even the best-explored self-insertion character.
As a "secondary character" (with apologies to Jon Carp) to Rayek, Ekuar is surprisingly well-rounded. He can be silly and sentimental in the same volume - Book 4 - but he also has a better understanding of tolerance than most of the elves. For example, he entertains and rescues Picknose and family in Book 7, he actually gets along with a few humans in the first Rogue's Curse arc, and he knows which side he's on at the end of Book 8. I admire a character with this degree of principle, and with this degree of practical understanding.
Well, what can you say? At times, Pike is comic relief - he had some very memorable scenes in Books 1, 3, and7. But the Keeper of Dreamberries is more than that - he had a brief, fascinating relationship in Book 4, and his dedication to Krim and Skot is clearly evidenced in Book 8. I began to wonder when the writers of the second Wild Hunt arc portrayed him as a responsible father figure, but I believe that given his past, he can take on the role well with a little time.
The vigilante, the partisan, the silent one. Strongbow stands out in a crowd, but unlike many "rebel" characters, he's not easily defined. This is the one who sticks with Moonshade through everything, the one who actually questions Cutter's judgment, the one who doesn't bitch about how much he suffers.
A rare oasis in a sometimes-desolate desert, Clearbrook was so fascinating to me that I can now declare her my favorite Elfquest character. Even in the earliest issues, when she tends to stand on the sidelines, Clearbrook has a calm, intelligent charm about her. Needless to say, the ante goes up at the end of Book 3, when her character is put to the test. Any normal, cliched character would either wallow in self-pity or become a raving lunatic. True, Clearbrook does give in to her anger at times, but she actually comes to grips with her frustrations. The scenes that take place from the halfway point of Book 4 to its end are marvelous. But that's not all, and as she moves on into the later books, more of the caring, maternal side of Clearbrook is revealed. Unfortunately, her role from Book 8 onwards has been fairly small, but she is just as effective as a dedicated lifemate as a warrior.
Alan's Top Five Most-Disliked Elfquest Characters
How much power can one elf have? Even given the abilities of Venka's parents, and the possibility that they could pass on all the best genes, Venka seems like an example of the "over-powered" genre. She almost never loses to Winnowill, and has no other competition. At least she stood back during the Shards issue 15 battle, or otherwise she might have accidentally won. Other than that, her stinging wit gets her into almost no trouble - why doesn't someone reply to her comments?
Oh, man, I'm gonna be stepping on a lot of toes here. *Read this at your own risk.* I found the stargazer to be often childish (cubbish?), too-perfect, disloyal, and overrated. Skywise has a little trouble dealing with reality. He left his three Sun Folk lovemates on a whim, he got annoyingly bitter when Cutter can't help him in the final Book 4 combat, and he tried to throttle Rayek after the Book 8 flight, just to satisfy his frustration. Above all else, he asked Leetah do a favor for him in the same book rather abruptly - the one thing that would permanently change his life. True, he feels some regret for it in the Hidden Years series, but this only causes Skywise to mope around a lot. He is also just-about-perfect in everything he does, even if it involves falling off a cliff, dumping a lover, or getting his hand stuck in a rock. Like I've said before, he has no loyalty to his lovemates - even Aroree, who clings to him like the world was going to end, and even Timmain, who is *much* older and more powerful than he. Essentially, Skywise is overrated, for though he could make many discoveries about his world, he is either too busy, or he would rather attribute it to "magic." My apologies to all the Skywise fans out there, but this is how I feel.
Like the next two, Shuna has a lot of admirers... and so I'm stuck scratching my head. Her acting in Book 8 surpassed anything she did in the Shards series. The big beef I have with Shuna is her characterization: this kid came from nowhere, started spreading her "good news" about the elves, and got a rebellion started from there. There's no precedent for this, especially since the Citadel Mound world was sexist - how come the people didn't just laugh at her? It's hard for me to have sympathy for a character who is all but perfect, and who is miraculously lifted from harm in Shards issue 11. I won't comment on her move to abandon her people and go with the elves, except that I hope to see more character depth if she ever returns.
The loser, the self-absorbed one, the plot contrivance. What bothers me about Dart is that there is no indication in Book 1, 2, or 3 that he could become a leader of any talent. True, he started training some Sun Folk, but I happen to think Woodlock had more talent than they. In any event, his appearance in Book 5 was laughable. It was hard for me to believe that the ugly, scrawny cub could become... an uglier, scrawnier leader. (The same thing happened to Newstar, but she was pretty in the beginning.) Not only that, but Dart and his Jack-Wolfriders made it all the way to the Forbidden Grove with hardly a scratch - even in the battle! Did the writers want to spare Dart character development by not harming him? But just so it's clear, I haven't read the New Blood series starring him. Well, for all you Dart fans, I will try to - after all, I admire Barry Blair's art.
At first, she was only a little annoying - but I chalked that up to her just being a cub. But the first sign of Tyleet's true nature came in the The Hidden Years compilation. I know that a lot of people liked it, but the "'Little Patch'" story made me nauseous, and it hasn't helped to have her mention it every two episodes since then. Regardless, as useful as Tyleet's talking-to-humans talent might be, it struck me as a deu ex machina. Furthermore, when she left with Ember's group in the Shards book (HY issues 11 through 15), she completely left the humans behind! Furthermore, Tyleet's personality is just plain annoying. She attracted so much attention to herself in the Legacy book (HY issues 16 through 21), that I wondered why someone didn't slap her. Tyleet has a serious ego problem, and for some strange reason, even Scouter and Dewshine are oblivious to it. Lastly, Tyleet did not mature at all between the Hidden Years series and Wild Hunt, for she cries so much - and for so little reason - in the second WH arc, that I've had to throw my issues across the room to keep my sanity.
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