In a strange world with magic and looming evil, there are the tailwands. This group of mice is gifted with the power of magic in one of five categories: forest, water, wind, sun, and moon. Young Kaya has just gotten her powers, and is ready to train.
While Kaya and her brother, Jak, are training, they come to find that their parents are in danger. They both set out to find them, and realize the problem is bigger than they thought; the Mordu (essentially a race of evil beings) are coming. However, it is only when faced with danger that Kaya discovers her powers crossing from category to category—she is the prophecy of the Ryn, born into Wyn.
When the Mordu attack, a friend’s bookstore is blown up, Jak is in something to the effect of a coma, and Kaya’s powers are tested even before she has developed or controlled them. Will good overcome evil?
Volumes one, two, and three of Tailwands tell a linear, harrowing story of a young, naïve mouse being forced to grow up and save her race. Creator Drew Crowder has orchestrated quite a storyline. This world is so small—filled with only animals (the biggest being owls)—but so gigantic in terms of what goes on. It is split into towns, but what’s awesome is that everyone knows just about everyone. The character interaction over on the “good” side is smooth, calm, and natural. On the “bad” side, however, it’s really tense and almost seems like the characters are fighting for the last word. Dustin Holifer shows this really well when we have a toad and a snake talking at each other instead of with each other.
The characterization is just as strong as the character interaction. There are tons of characters with big personalities. Kaya started out with a kid’s personality in the first volume, but ended up with a hero’s in the third—so much so that she snuck away from the adults to find out where the bad guy was hiding. Granted she walked straight into a trap, but it’s the thought that counts?
Jak’s older brother role is written perfectly. When Kaya starts showing signs of being more powerful than him, Jak doesn’t freak out or question his masculinity or even shun his sister. Instead, he’s proud of her, but still wants to protect her. It’s the most heartwarming, endearing relationship.
Artist Morgan Rae Myers does a fantastic job of illustrating this world. From the trees to the cobblestones, everything resembles reality so well that it’s impossible to get confused by this artwork. The characters’ faces show so much expression that the artwork alone could tell the story. Colorist Rob Torres effectively depicts both the realistic and magical side of this universe. It truly is a great read, in terms of both diction and aesthetic. The only real issue is that in volume three, the same page is repeated twice in a row—same panels, artwork, and dialogue. It tripped me up a bit, but the book was still able to keep my interest.
This fantasy series will definitely go well among Mouse Guard fans. Even though this is an all-ages series, I am oddly satisfied with the action and adventure within Tailwands. This is Hashtag Comics’ first series, but they’re also known for Carpe Noctem. There is also a spinoff series based on Tailwands called Tailwands Academy, which was just published last month. If you’re interested in a good story, head out to your local comic book shop and give this series a read.
Written by: Drew Crowder & Dustin Holifer
Illustrated by: Morgan Rae Myers