Writer: Andrew Wheeler/ Artist: Paulina Ganucheau/ Oni Press
Editor’s Note: Oni Press is releasing a handful of #1’s of comics this week including COURTNEY CRUMRIN #1, THE MIGHTY ZODIAC #1 and SPACE BATTLE LUNCHTIME #1 which will be available at your local comic book store with a price tag of $1. We thought this was a perfect opportunity to review a comic or two and introduce something new to put on your pull list.
This comic originally caught my eye because as a magical girl enthusiast (and real life magical girl who is apart of the resistance. Yes. You can do both.) I was familiar with the artist of Zodiac Starforce, Paulina Ganucheau. Even the title, “Another Castle” proved to be intriguing as it’s a play on a number of several tropes: Save The Princess, Girl in a Tower but most importantly the Your Princess Is In Another Castle trope. I knew I was in for a treat because I had a feeling this comic would put all those tropes in a
one arm suplex submission hold and give me something fantastic to read and I was NOT wrong.
The hero(ione) of this comic is Princess Artemisia aka Misty of Beldora, where her father, Thomas The True, reigns. She does dream of more, more excitement, more flair–just about more of anything to her boring life as a Princess. There’s only so much etiquette lessons and primping sessions she can stand. Within the first five pages, we learn a whole lot about her as she slays a changeling, sent to spy on her as she’s getting her Nails done, hair done, everything did. She’s a (young) woman of action. She’s off to slay the evil that threatens the kingdom with a strong sense of justice and a big sword. Just like all the heroes before her
Salute a real princess when you see one!
Gancheou’s stylized art is a winner as it has always stood out; here it’s on display with a new shine when paired with Wheeler’s writing which is at times clever, other times funny but certainly a good first impression for a reader who wasn’t familiar with him or his work before. Misty is not just another princess. She isn’t one dimensional. While she may fall into the damsel in distress category, she isn’t proverbially without a boat or a paddle.
When Misty is captured by Lord Badlug, the baddie of the neighboring lands Grimoire, she finds herself at a loss, disadvantaged. She learns that he intends to marry her, make her his, Queen and conquer Beldora, leading the neighboring lands into the worst timeline ever.
You may wonder about agency and how it all plays in here for a princess that gets captured but I need to reassure you that there is more to it and these 32 pages are worth reading on for. This comic is gold with its creative team which includes a fine lettering job by Jenny Vy Tran. Everything by Tran from sound effects to the ornate boxes for narrative purposes displaying location compliment the art, add to the overall look of the book.
Another Castle features a villain who isn’t cartoonishly villainous (ok, debatable if you’re talking about his appearance because he favors a buff skeleton soooooooo) who actually thought out a genius plan that which doesn’t have a thermal exhaust port to account for and also caters to his limited mobility. A hero who also happens to be a princess who is mature enough to know that not all battles can be fought with might, that your sword can’t win them.
A hero that is thinking of the bigger picture: of losing some battles to win the war. There’s also a prince. A prince named Pete whom Misty can’t get a word in about their questionable upcoming nuptials but who also doesn’t overshadow her or becomes the force that finally makes her find herself in the quest of her own agency. *Wonder Woman Film feels*
We’re also presented with the reality that nothing can be black and white, as in the fight against good and evil. Misty finds suffering citizens under Badlug’s rule and can’t leave them to their fate. She goes from wanting to keep her own people in her own kingdom safe to gaining an understanding that she can do more, that she now has a bigger responsibility to be the hero, the champion the people need, and not just her own.
The Absent Mother trope (which can be found in fantasy settings often) that I hate is alive and well in this book. My only consolation without spoiling the comic it does tether to an emotional thread in the plot which does…move the story along? Ughhhhhhhh. That would be my major complaint about this book.
With that addressed, I do like how hero is redefined here, how it doesn’t just apply to the Prince and how gender roles aren’t just rigidly set in place: Misty is who she is, dress, tiara, sword, wits and all.
9 Soliloquies for Not-Song Birds Out Of 10