By Dustin Cabeal
After about three pages of this issue, I wondered if the creator of Action Lab’s Princeless knew about it. That is to say that the similarities between Lady Castle and Princeless are plenty. It's where they differ that makes Lady Castle an okay read.
We meet Aeve, a princess locked in a tower, only to be let out upon marriage. She’s denied all her suitors, and so her father and all of the men of the kingdom are out to find another suitor. She passes her days singing, lifting buckets of books, writing letters to the women of the kingdom as if she were Dear Abby. Basically, she’s losing her damn mind.
A lone knight returns and informs the kingdom that all the men are dead and he assumes he’s going to be made a king. The lady of the lake has other plans and chooses the blacksmith for the job. There is a moment in which they debate if that makes her a queen, but they settle on her being the new king. They free Aeve and prepare the kingdom for battle. Aeve becomes the most bad-ass Knight in the kingdom, and her jealous sister becomes her squire.
The charm is the dialogue and the situations the story puts our characters in and how they get out of said situations. In their first challenge, Aeve finds a way to beat the situations without using her sword. It’s a brains over brawns deal, but it’s clever and refreshing. Especially since the story had shown her being ready and willing for battle leading up to the situation. The dialogue has its charm. The old knight that gets turned down for the role of King is quite funny and in a lot of ways represents an old mindset. I did have two problems with the dialogue, there was too much singing, and it was all intentionally bad (at least I hope it was intentional) and so that made it a chore to read. The other problem was that the characters tend to lack an original voice. They all hit the same beats of humor and seem to have the same level of wit. It doesn’t sink the story, but it could in future issues for sure.
The artwork is interesting. At times I loved the style. Other times it was lacking detail or relied on the same visual, like a close up of Aeve’s face, far too much. The backgrounds are also completely lacking, and just gradient fills for the most part. There were a lot of scenes in which characters faces lacked any definition which for Aeve’s sister made her entire look inconsistent throughout the comic. If they didn’t remind you of who she was, I would likely have asked, “who is that again?” It’s a good fit for the story, but it has this rushed feel to it which is a shame.
If you’ve never read Princeless, then you’ll likely re-enjoy this anti-princess story. If you have, you’re probably going to pick it apart of similarities, and I can’t fault you on that. There’s a lot of similarities that just don’t have a place in a review. All that aside, though, it’s not without its flaws, but neither is it without its charms. Unfortunately, the flaws outweighed the charms.
Lady Castle #1 (of 4)
Writer: Delilah S. Dawson
Artist: Ashley A. Woods
Publisher: BOOM! Studio