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Princeless is a comic meant to show how powerful women in comics can be. This issue highlights the more… unsavory aspects most comic book women unfortunately (or fortunately for some) share. This issue detracts from the main plot to share this message with it’s readers and it succeeds enough to make me even think about the experiences I’ve had in my own life.
Princess Adrienne continues on her quest to save herself and her fellow sisters… at least she would if she didn’t have a slight problem: no pants. So Adrienne heads to the blacksmith where we get a funny and oh-so-true critique of women in comics.
From the opening page of this issue we get some great humor. But the humor in this issue mostly relies on the representation of the women in comics which is introduced thanks to the new addition to the Princeless cast, Bedelia Smith. We learn a lot about the views men have of women – and even some women like Bedelia – Adrienne’s world has towards women. These views clearly mix-in the actual comic book universe and satirize characters like Red Sonja and Wonder Woman. Even better, the Wonder Woman bit is expanded upon in the comic and the costume is proven to be useful despite impractical, which I think is a clever way of saying that while the overall representation of women in comics is not fantastic, there are still some positives, which is true, even when it comes to skimpy costumes. After all, Wonder Woman is one of numerous female comic book heroines many people look up to and admire for their valor versus their sexiness… well, maybe the sexiness too… and the rope.
Writer Jeremy Whitley’s rendition of some sexist guards and onlookers seems spot-on. By the end of the issue I’m really rooting for her by the end and hating the sexist guards. I look forward to the next issue just to see them get their well-deserved beat down.
We also learn a lot about Bedelia in just one issue like her views, her short and seemingly too simple life story, and her personality. It’s thrown at us all very quickly but I think I’m going to like Ms. Smith… I’m still racking her words over in my brain since we’re given a lot of her in one issue right off the bat.
The one problem with this issue is it completely brings the main story to a screeching halt. Adrienne’s pit stop to the blacksmith takes the entire issue and pushes off her already laborious task of rescuing her sisters. Thankfully this four issue mini-series isn’t going to be concluding the main story – there’s already another volume coming out which can allow indulgences like this issue, which does successfully introduce an important character, to finish the story with. And though I’m sure they’ll need more than just two volumes to finish this adventure.
M. Goodwin continues her fun artistic style in this issue. The artwork always reflects the tone of the comic, and the Wonder Woman costume is well designed to give a nod to its namesake. But the real show-stopper is the final costume Bedelia makes for Adrienne. I won’t spoil it for you here, but it is great. Also, some of the artwork is outrageously cartoonish (at least when compared to the rest of the artwork) with Adrienne’s character adorned with big eyes that are just adorable!
On a personal note, one thing I didn’t really consider as interesting about this comic is that it’s a critique about women’s portrayal in comics that is written by a man. I never even thought about that until a conversation with a friend worried me. We were talking about a book I had been forced to read for an English class. In the book, which takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, women are bred like cattle. When I was telling my friend about this book, which I could barely stomach reading she reacted as I expected, in horror. Than she asked a very telling question.
Was the book written by a man?
When I told her the book wasn’t written by a man but a woman by the name of Margaret Atwood. Her response:
Oh, it’s not so bad then.
It disturbs me that there are women who think female exploitation is OK when women do it. If I told my friend about this comic I wonder if she would say Whitley was purposely showing off skimpy clothing just so he could give male readers some skin.
That’s as stupid a comment as the Handmaid’s Tale one.
I know this anecdote might not seem to connect too much with Princeless to some readers and they’re irritated by my seemingly off-track tangent, but I want people to know that opinions like that show women and men can both have pretty terrible expectations put on themselves that just aren’t fair, both in comics and the real world. This is one of the reasons why I really admire the work Whitley is doing and suggest this book to not only female readers but everyone.
This issue makes me want to expand my previous opinion over the last two issues. Before, I thought kids would get the most enjoyment out of this series. But this issue in particular might even be enjoyed more by adults since they’re more likely to be familiar with the sexist costumes.
While adults may get more of the message than children, this is a great book for people of all ages to understand a bit about not only Adrienne’s fairytale world (as well as Wonder Woman’s and Red Sonja) but also, unfortunately, the real world.
But you know the best part? Princeless #3 was nominated for an Eisner and because of that achievement Action Lab decided to make Princeless #3 free for everyone!
You can download Princeless: The Eisner Nominee Edition (a.k.a. Princeless #3) at following links:
And for more Princeless, read my review of Princeless #2.