Review: Damsels in Excess #4

damsels in distress 4The fairy tale genre is one which has slowly introduced itself into the medium since the early 2000s, but it is a genre and phenomenon which is now fairly widespread, being also popular on television and in movies.  With Damsels in Excess as the first from Aspen, it joins DC Comics (through Vertigo), Marvel, Dynamite and Zenescope as other publishers that have tried to capitalize on the popularity of these legendary characters.  There are some inherent problems to the use of fairy tale characters in comics, among the most obvious that there is a limited pool to draw upon, and saturation comes quickly with more than a few different versions of the same character.  Another drawback is the use of the female characters themselves, in that in traditional fairy tales that the traditional role of women is most often reinforced, which sometimes clashes with modern values.

Thus far, Damsels in Excess has been fairly successful in combating both of these impulses.  In the first case they have simply decided on a pool of princesses which form the backbone of everything which transpires in this series.  Secondly and most important, by way of an ancient curse, there are in fact no male characters at all in the world in which they live, thus making the female characters at least by default the heroes of the story.  Thus far in the series, the main character Bethany has struggled with her role in the entire process.  Forming one of the group of princesses that rule the domain, she also bears worse responsibilities, as it is her mother that was responsible for the curse which removed all the men, and she is persecuted and on the run for the actions of her parent.  At the same time another comes to her peril, as her unknown sister is hired to assassinate her.

As a take on the fairy tale genre, this series works, or at least hits all of the notes that it needs to, with main characters that are fun and well developed.  The concept and story itself is a bit of a stretch when it comes to fairy tales, but it is still a modern version of what fairy tales might look like if they were crafted in the modern day with modern storytelling.  The main problem with the series and this issue is that it is a limited series, and while this issue is of decent enough quality, it does not seem like it is moving along fast enough for the rest of the series not to be crammed together for a hasty resolution.  It is of course nice to see character development, but if it comes at the expense of the plot then it is to the worse of the overall series.  It remains to be seen what the creative team will do with what they have to this point, but at least all the pieces are there for something memorable enough in this genre.

Story: Vince Hernandez Art: Mirka Andolfo
Story: 8.0  Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Read

Aspen provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review

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