Publisher: Oni Press
Writer: Andrew Wheeler
Artist: Paulina Ganucheau
Release Date: 10th August 2016
Starting off as a wonderfully progressive look at the tried-and-tested “princess in need of rescue” cliche, Another Castle from Oni Press has gradually evolved into an impressive ensemble fantasy piece, packed with intriguing relationships, light-hearted humour and plenty of clever, sideways looks at established fantasy tropes.
Our heroine Princess Misty has been relentlessly defiant and non-conformist from the very first issue, which is an admirable trait, even if it does leave the reader looking elsewhere for any significant character development. Thankfully, Gorga and Fogmoth are here to show us just how far a pair of “monster” jailors can come in the course of a few issues. The latter has gone from a bumbling, baked goods-wielding dork to a genuine hero who risks himself yet again here in order to do the right thing, while the former has become easily my favourite character of the entire series. Seriously, if you can get this far into Another Castle and not find yourself fiercely rooting for this wonderfully pure-hearted and optimistic Gorgon, I’m not sure you and I are ever going to be friends.
Once again, artist Paulina Ganucheau keeps things bright and lively from a visual point of view, with a “Saturday morning cartoon” vibe very much on display throughout, from ludicrous frog monster Thrawgg to wonderfully over-the-top villain Badlug. Cartoony and colourful it may be, but Ganucheau still manages to nail the storyline beats here, with the “meet cute” between Gorga and Pete resonating just much as the appearance of the dragon-riding baddie. For all the over-the-top fantasy tropes being tossed around, this is very much a story about the characters themselves and the decisions they make, and Ganucheau deserves extra credit for making these wonderful creations shine as brightly as they do.
There’s a brilliant moment midway through this issue that basically sums up the entire series, where Pete finally admits that his ultimate dream of slaying the monster and marrying the princess might not actually be his dream after all, accepting that everyone has their own “adventure” that they need to figure out for themselves. Once again, Wheeler’s words don’t come across as preachy or offputtingly saccharine as he delivers some fantastic moral messages about the importance of just being yourself and not letting other people pigeonhole you based on their own preconceptions.
In the increasingly diverse world of comic books, it’s reassuring to know that younger readers picking up this book are being taught some valuable lessons. Namely, that heroes can show weakness, that the people we think of as monsters can sometimes be every bit as heroic as the rest of us, and – perhaps most importantly – that princesses can kick some serious ass. And I think you’ll agree that’s a message we can all get behind.
If you want to find out more about Another Castle, make sure to check out our interview with creators Andrew Wheeler and Paulina Ganucheau by CLICKING HERE.
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