Here it is, the second installment of It’s All In The Trades here at the SMC blog! If you missed the first column, let me fill you in. Every two weeks one of us will take a look at a trade, hardcover, or some other collected edition of a comic. Be it good, bad, or meh, we’ll let you know what our thoughts are and whether you should buy it. This week I’ll be taking a look at Action Lab’s new trade of Princeless!
The very idea of Princeless is the old “damsel in distress” trope turned on its head. When Princess Adrienne is locked away in a tower by her father, she must wait for a brave prince to come rescue her. After befriending Sparky, the dragon guarding her tower, and finding a sword underneath her bed, Adrienne decides she doesn’t need a prince and that she’s going to rescue her similarly imprisoned sisters. Along the way she angers her father, meets Bedelia - a half-dwarf blacksmith – and embarks on a journey across the continent.
In addition to the four issues that contain the story of the first trade, there are two short stories in the back. One is called Mr. Froggy in which we see the prince who failed to rescue Adrienne and what life is like when you’re groomed to rescue princesses. The other is a crossover with Skullkickers in which Adrienne meets the dwarf from Skullkickers and the pair don’t take too kindly to being called “short”. Seeing two great fantasy/comedy comics come together for even just a few pages was pretty awesome.
It’s a great comic that has a very strong female lead. Jeremy Whitley makes a story that while rejecting the formula of most stories, doesn’t flaunt it. He doesn’t make either Adrienne or Bedelia seem like they’re being forced to fill a certain role, but rather they’re just strong, fun characters. While this trade really doesn’t get too far on Adrienne’s journey, it definitely sets up the cast of characters in a great way. There are several moments that make you chuckle and that’s a great thing. Comics should be fun, even if most seem to have forgotten this. At their core they should make sure you, the reader, have a big smile on your face and enjoyed the read. Whitley’s story does just this.
The art by M. Goodwin really makes this story look great. Goodwin makes the fantastical look just right. Whether it’s Sparky, minotaurs, or ridiculous chainlink bikinis, Goodwin captures it all in a cartoonish way that fits this story perfectly. While the art is a bit lighthearted, it portrays the action quite nicely too. It’s this mix of fun and action that makes Goodwin’s art the perfect fit for this story.
Though it received high praise while it was being printed in single issues, I had never read Princeless before this. This is something I am now mad at myself for. The fun book that is Princeless and the laughs and grins that it brings should not have been overlooked by me. Do yourself a favor and pick up this trade and then pick up the recently released issue #1 of volume two. You won’t regret it.
Art: 9/10. Fantasy goodness.
Parental Concern: Minimal. This is pretty all-ages friendly.