The first volume of Princeless, titled “Save Yourself”, saw Plucky Princess Adrienne rescue herself from a tower & then set out to rescue her sisters. Given that it took Adrienne a little under an issue to get out of her own tower getting her sisters out of theirs should be a cinch (after all she does have a Dragon), & then everyone can live happy ever, but as Book 2 begins it’s pretty clear that not everything is sweetness and light.
The second volume of Princeless opens with thunder and lightning creating a suitable mood for the series introduction. King Ash is in the process of offering his daughters’ hand in marriage to whichever knight finds the man who killed his other daughter – The same man that, unawares to King Ash, actually is his daughter. The scene is a particularly dark one and does much to build up Ash as a genuine villain, albeit a misunderstanding one, while introducing an incredibly varied group of antagonists against which to pit Adrienne on her quest. It’s a scene that shows off some fairly economic writing skills on Whitley’s part as 2 or 3 lines (or sometimes none at all) say far more about a character and scene than you first realise. This shift in tone however does necessitate some changes & this issue sees Adrienne takes a step back, allowing for more focus on the rest of her family, & in particular the relationship between her parents. This change in gear from happy heroics to matters of a more domestic nature feels somewhat odd at first; especially as the pacing may be a little slow for younger readers who are new to the series, but it also shows that the book isn’t just relying on what worked before & is willing to mature as a title while still staying true to its child friendly roots.
Thankfully the rest of the book goes onto prove that the series hasn’t lost its lighter touch and this is thanks in no small part to new series artist Emily Martin, who proves she can do bright and breezy just as well as dark and stormy. Adrienne and Bedelia’s George of the Jungle inspired altercation with a tree provides one of the issues funnier moments & plays to the strengths of Martin’s Manga inspired line work. Admittedly the more cartoony aspects tend to work a lot better in the humorous scenes than they do in the more serious ones, but a beautifully staged two page sequence involving a very hungry Dragon provides the issues’ standout scene & shows that Martin has great promise.
Chances are if you’ve been on board with Princeless since volume 1 then volume 2 is going to be an essential purchase regardless. The change in tone hints at new & interesting ideas in the months ahead while it is clear that the sense of humour and fierce intelligence that made the first series such a hit have been retained. If you have no idea what this book is or what it’s about then I’d certainly recommend escaping from whatever tower you’ve clearly been locked in and picking up volume 1, before getting this one obviously.
The first issue of the second volume of Action Labs feminist fairy tale is available for pre order now. The Diamond order code is STK522143.