Knightingail: The Legend Begins is about to be released in trade paperback form. We looked at the series when it was about to wrap up this summer, but we’ve gotten our hands on the new release to see what it’s all about. Knightingail is created and written by Wayne Gardiner with Maria Cristina Francisco on pencils and Katrina Mae Hao as colorist. Before we give the final verdict, here’s a brief sketch of our story.
Our main characters are Eloa, who becomes our title character Knightingail, and Kaeli who is from a different tribe. Kaeli is a squirrel-like creature whereas Eloa is more of a humanoid or pixie-like character. In this world, there are seven tribes with different skills and cultures. You have tribes such as foresters, hunters, carvers, and dracons. Each tribe has a leader with a special ability, that person is called a centurion. Over all of them is the Master Centurion who is chosen directly by the Sovereign One. The Master Centurion can control the forces of weather itself. Over the many shadow cycles (years), the tribes have split over their differences and have begun to differ over what they call the Sovereign One.
Eloa is special. She has the power to heal and restore. Nobody takes her seriously until things go from bad to worse. Eloa, Kaeli, and Daniel (the king’s son, healed by Eloa in the first issue by Eloa) set out to discover the answers to secrets about Eloa’s life and stop an invasion and protect everything they love.
The art in this book is beautiful. Francisco’s pencils do a great job of bringing the odd creatures and landscapes to live, but it is Katrina Mae Hao’s color that truly shines throughout the series. The characters are bright and cheerful in their vivid settings, but there are also dark and gloomy colors when we shift to the darker side and impending war points of the story. But like the hope and joy our main characters represent, there are signs of brightness in the darkest of times. The story is well crafted by Gardiner who forms a fantastical world with a rich history.
The collected series features an introduction by Travis Hanson, the Eisner nominated writer for The Bean. Each issue is broken up as a chapter with a scroll telling us about the story so far. The last section of the book is a sketchbook by Francisco and Mae Hao. There are original sketches and rejected character designs for most of our major players. It’s interesting to see how drastically some of the characters have changed. You also have a cover gallery featuring 12 of the various covers and variants. The final section is the Jessica Nigri cover gallery. Besides the regular covers and variants, Knightingail feature photo covers featuring Nigri cosplaying as Eloa or Kaeli. All of those photos are featured in this addition.
Bottom Line: Knightingail is a great fantasy story featuring some even greater art and colors. This trade is one to pick up if you missed the first run of the series, or want to get it to round out your collection. The supplementary material is mainly the character sketches and cover galleries. Good story, brilliant colors, Jessic Nigri 4/5