Princesses are usually nothing more than plot devices; they play the role of "damsel in distress" as they captivate our hero with their beauty and little else. Princeless is absolutely nothing like the previous sentence. In fact, by the second page it’s clear that this is going to be a very different story and by the end of the first issue/chapter you will know that this is something special you’re holding in your hands… its comic history. This is by far one the most accessible comics I’ve ever read; it’s not only enjoyable for both adults and children, but also it’s something that any gender can enjoy. The first page is a fairy tale opening, as a mother readers her daughter a story that’s similar to Rapunzel, Shrek or half a dozen other fairy tales. A fair-skinned princess is rescued by a handsome prince once he’s finished slaying the dragon that guards her. After finishing the story we find a dark-skinned mother and daughter sitting on the daughter’s bed. The young girls name is Adrienne and she goes off on the story calling out all the plot holes and flaws with the concept. She tells her mother that her and her dad better not lock her up in a tower when she turns 16.
The next scene we find Adrienne finishing her sentence locked in a tower with a dragon outside guarding her. The dragon’s job is to eat anyone that’s comes calling on her and she’s very good at her job. Currently she’s eating two knights that have failed to slay her while Adrienne looks on. She warns the dragon named Sparky that eating so quickly will give her heartburn and keeps her up all night, but Sparky doesn’t listen. Adrienne takes to writing in her diary in order to keep her wits about her and we’re treated to a bit of a back story about how she got locked in the tower after all. Her thoughts are interrupted though as another suitor Prince has come to call on her. He calls her “fair” which upsets her as she goes off on him about the proper meaning of the word and then tells him to read a book if he doesn’t get eaten first.
While the prince flees for his life Adrienne pokes around under her bed and finds a sword hidden there. She gets excited, but soon Sparky is standing at her window looking her over. She tries to hide it, but she’s busted. She asks Sparky if she can keep it and soon enough she’s practicing with it in the yard outside of her tower. At night she breaks the news to Sparky as she tells her of her plan to escape pretending to be a prince and tells Sparky that she needs to come with her since staying will only mean her death. She grabs the left over armor and Sparky torches the tower. There’s no turning back as Adrienne sets out to save her sisters from a life trapped in a tower under her father's rule.
The writing is just fantastic. The plot is well-crafted and it’s quite clear that this is going to be a long epic journey broken up into different chapters; and that’s perfectly fine. I actually think it will help the series in the long run as new readers will always be able to grab previous book volumes and jump on and never be scared away by a high issue count. Besides the plot being great the dialog is very engaging and rewarding. There is a flair of modern awareness to the story, but the sentence structures are more accurate compared to the era in which classic fairy tales were first written. This gives the book a wonderful charm and makes the characters very likeable. Adrienne’s intelligence isn’t to be rivaled and I love her quick wit and ability to correct others even in the middle of a dire situation.
Another thing that amazes me about this story is that writer Jeremy Whitley has managed to do something that even female writers fail to do. There is no damsel in this story. Often times when there is a female lead they are actually just taking the role of the “Prince” and saving a man who is weaker than them. You can look no further than several volumes of Wonder Woman (pre-New 52) and Ms. Marvel (Pre-Captain Marvel) to see prime examples of this. Sure there are in fact real damsels in the story, but Adrienne is going to liberate them to a life of their choosing rather than marriage. This story portrays Adrienne as the strongest female comic book character to be created in decades in my opinion.
The art is the absolute best choice for the book. There’s this really fine balance between fairy tale and comic book that it manages hit. The storybook quality gives it a unique charm, but there is also something very modern about it at the same time. I loved the design for Sparky and the characters in general. The character’s facial expressions play a strong role in giving them personality, but also the book personality as well. There is a great partnership between the story and art that make it feel more like a collaboration then two separate parts just working together.
This is an amazing series and my only regret is that I didn’t read it sooner. The magical thing about it is it that you can recommend it to just about anyone. If you have a daughter or niece that is interested in comic books, but can rarely find something that interests them this is perfect for them. But it’s not limited to just young girls by any means as I can wholeheartedly recommend this to young boys as well. Heck, I’m a full-grown adult and I read it and loved it. I said that this book was comic history in the beginning of this review and really what I meant was that this series is only going to get bigger and more popular. This is the series that keeps on giving and right now it’s on the ground floor, but already in just one year it has gained so much ground.
Writer: Jeremy Whitley
Artist: Mia Goodwin
Publisher: Action Lab Entertainment and Firetower Studios