Have you ever come across a band, or movie, maybe even a book or restaurant and thought “Wow, I can’t wait to tell everyone about this!” And then you realize you’re about 20 years too late? I say this because I had never read Soulwind before, or even heard of it for that matter. Somehow, in all of my conversations with my comic book-loving friends, it had never come up. I thought surely this was a new release, but to my surprise found that its initial run was started back in December of 1997. The story was compiled at the end of 2003 as a trade paperback, but it took all this time to make its way to hardcover.
Soulwind is confusing. I’ll say that right out of the gate because this story takes patience. It’s easy to read, but complex to understand. The story sets up characters and events that take until nearly the end to pay off. Even then you probably have to read through the roughly 520 pages twice to fully comprehend everything. Because of the way the subplots were originally broken up, there were several moments that made me go back a few pages because I thought somehow I missed how I arrived where I did. It’s a trip for sure, because it spans space and time while having a little fun with both.
The most basic way of putting it is thus: Soulwind is about a boy and a sword and about being a part of something much greater than yourself. It’s a mixture of sci-fi and fantasy that is set on earth as well as a distant planet. A story whose human characters are pulled into events that are almost beyond their comprehension and have immense responsibility thrusted onto their shoulders, but bravely play their part. The characters vary wildly from talking animals and robots, to otherworldly mystical beings. It’s like if Jim Henson created a time traveling Marvel superhero movie. This is the type of comic book I always look for, which is why I find it hard to believe it had never been recommended to me before.
I’ve never been a big fan of black and white comics, but Soulwind‘s use of negative space is both inventive and artistic. The style is slightly adjusted for each subplot, but the monochromatic design keeps it simple throughout. My favorite is the intermittent use of Chinese brush-painted characters used to emphasize a panel or page. While colorless comics sometimes feel incomplete to me, I at no point was missing the color because the stark style really is part of this books charm. It makes it feel like I’m reliving a story from long ago, in the same way that Sandman‘s stories are timeless.
Soulwind is not without its faults. Like I previously mentioned, you can get lost during the reading and forget what started this whole thing to begin with, but it does do a good job of tying up any loose ends. Although, there is one family relation that had me scratching my head at the end. While anyone of almost any age post-preteen could pick this up and enjoy it, the disjointed nature may make it a little too complex for the younger audience to fully comprehend. However, talking it out with your child may be part of the fun (I’d be interested to hear if anyone has any success with this). It makes me a little sad that Soulwind both begins and ends here because I feel there is so much story to be told in the middle, but at the same time it’s nice to have a story that is self contained. This is a classic book that I would recommend anyone have in their collection and is probably something you’ll periodically come back to from time to time.