Comics Features

REVIEW: Princeless: Pirate Princess

Written by Ryan Fitzmartin

Princeless: Pirate Princess is a fresh, exciting, and delightful all-ages adventure comic that evokes classic adventures like Avatar: The Last Airbender and Powerpuff Girls.

Pirate Princess is the first Princeless comic I’ve read, and I have to say that I really quite like it. Princeless is an exciting adventure comic about the adventures of Princess Raven and Princess Ashe. Raven and Ashe refuse to be cast in traditional princess roles, and go on their thrilling adventures instead of being rescued by princes. These adventures are fun, engaging, and whimsical. Princeless takes the readers on a journey as Ashe and Raven try and discover their place in the world.

Princesses Ashe and Raven are solid, well-developed protagonists who quickly earn the reader’s compassion. I liked the energy exhibited by both characters. Ashe and Raven are twin firecrackers, and things explode wherever they go. The primary plot concerns Raven’s attempt to regain captaincy of a pirate ship, and a crew to go with. Ashe and Raven first meet when Ashe and her friend Bedelia rescue Raven from being trapped in a tower. Ashe poses as a prince, and uses her pet dragon to fly up and free Raven. Ashe, Raven and Bedelia skillfully fight off a series of assailants and escape. Sometimes trouble finds the princesses, and sometimes they create it. Raven steals Ashe’s prized dragon, leading to an airborne fistfight as Ashe tries to regain control of her pet. All this does is land both princesses in the sea.  Ashe comes from royalty and Raven is a rogue, but they work their differences out through beating up on pirates, becoming staunch allies in the fight against arrogant males everywhere.

The action in Princeless is sharply drawn and well-choreographed. The combat style is highly evocative and detailed. Every punch, kick, and parry is drawn individually and neatly in linear form. This style reminds me heavily of classic action cartoons like Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars and Samurai Jack, or Powerpuff Girls. Overall, the art by Ted Brandt and Rosy Higgins is clean, colorful, and neat. Backgrounds and shadows are effectively used to create contrast and dimension, and style. The art feels alive and fun, and gives the comic a positive atmosphere. Its cartoony without being kiddish, like a lighter and simpler form of the visual style of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Princeless features terrific writing by Jeremy Whitley. Characters have independent voices and motivations, and are surprisingly rich for an all-ages comic. The comic isn’t deep, but it doesn’t talk down to its readers in a way that some all-ages comics do. Princeless tells a truly exciting and engaging fantasy story within the confines of the genre. The comic’s greatest weakness is perhaps its world, which isn’t fully fleshed out. The fantasy world Whitley has created feels somewhat generic, and functions not as a world itself, but merely as a place for his characters to exist. However, this is a minor flaw, because the characters are interesting, and the story is fun. Dialogue is snappy, and exposition doesn’t drag.

The greatest strength of Princeless really is its tone. Whitley and his artists manage to tell an exciting adventure story with swashbuckling action, without it feeling toned down for the age group. There are sword fights, cannons, and plenty of punches, but the comic never feels too violent, or neutered. This again leads back to the debt owed to Avatar and the Tartakovsky shows. Fans hankering for those shows will find many of the same qualities here in Princeless: Pirate Princess.

If you want, rip-roaring, high-seas, fantasy adventure, read Princeless: Pirate Princess. I really enjoyed this book, and I recommend it to everyone young and old.

Have you gotten a chance to check out Princeless yet? What did you think? Tell us in the comments or on Twitter!

About the author

Ryan Fitzmartin