Princeless #3

If there was one topic that seemed to keep cropping up over and over again regarding the comic industry in 2011 it was the under representation of gender & minority groups by the big two. However while the mainstream has been trying to deal with the concept that it actually has a huge fan base that doesn’t look like the comic book guy out of The Simpsons, the indies, both here in the UK & abroad have been tackling the issue head on & Princeless in particular has been at the front of the pack.

The third issue of Action Labs funked up fairy tale sees Adrienne in search of some new threads, preferably the metal kind that fit, but are still capable of stopping blades, arrows & other such sharp pokey implements. Being that this is fairy tale land shopping centres haven’t been invented yet & as Adrienne discovers on a trip to the local Smithy’s neither has practicality where ladies armour is concerned leading to some questions regarding old fashioned gender stereotypes that haven’t ever really gone away. When I interviewed writer Jeremy Whitely a few months back he spoke about wanting to make Adrienne “strong willed & inquisitive” & in this issue we get to see these aspects of the character really come to the fore. What’s more Whitely manages this in a way that is entertaining but gets the point across without sacrificing the story for soapbox rhetoric. While some moments may cause younger readers to ask interesting questions like “what’s socialism?” that’s kind of the point & the book does a great job of tackling the issues head on in a balanced & intelligent fashion.

                Once again Whitley is aided in his quest to enlighten & empower the minds of younger generation by Artist M. Goodwin who seems content to knock every challenge Whitely throws at her straight out of the park. Issue 3 contains more visual comedy & action than previous issues (including a very funny costume gag) & Goodwin makes both work together incredibly well whilst reinforcing the more topical points of Whitely’s writing. There is also the introduction of a character named Bedelia, a Smithy’s daughter with a very interesting background who provides the foil for most of Adrienne’s arguments. The scenes involving Bedelia working the forge in the middle of the book have a unique manic energy of their own & provide the standout panels in the issue both in terms of pencils & colours. Goodwin’s art on this book is maturing in much the same way as the writing with each issue providing something new that helps enhance the art & the story.

With issue 3 now here the end of the first arc that seemed so far off at the beginning is now only one more issue away. Thankfully though issue 4 looks likely to end on a “to be continued” note rather than a “happy ever after” one which is good because it means I get to carry on reading it & then writing about why you lot should do the same. This is by far the most grown up issue of Princeless yet in terms of its message but it is also the most enlightening  & engaging – showing that this is a title  of ever increasing importance to an industry where the big two publishers often seem incapable of finding the right balance where it’s non white non male readers are concerned.