Review – Another Castle #5 (Oni Press)

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Publisher: Oni Press
Writer: Andrew Wheeler
Artist: Paulina Ganucheau
Release Date: 23rd October 2016

And so we reach the conclusion of Andrew Wheeler and Paulina Ganucheau‘s princess-story-with-a-twist, Another Castle.  With Badlug now threatening the innocent inhabitants of Grimoire unless Misty surrenders herself to her bridal fate, it’s going to take every ounce of heart and creativity for her and her remaining friends to overthrow this tyrannical – and now seemingly indestructible – dictator.

As should be expected by now, Ganucheau’s bright, bold visuals work perfectly alongside the tone of the series, giving it a lively ‘Saturday Morning Cartoon’ vibe in spite of the rather dire stakes.  The character designs are striking and the colours are energetic and optimistic. There are the occasional moments of roughness along the way, but this is a series that’s a lot more about the feelings it elicits than it is about about detailed, technical accuracy, and in terms of creating a vivid, eye-catching world, Ganacheua has knocked it out of the park.

Warm, fuzzy feelings abound from a storyline point of view, as you should probably expect from this series by now, and the while the large-scale “fate of the kingdom” stuff definitely commands the attention, it’s the smaller, character-based moments that really made me smile here.  From Fogmoth’s expression as he listens to Robin stirring the citizens with a rousing speech to Gorga’s tragic love story with Pete, there are a lot of different moving parts and subplots here that Wheeler  deserves credit for managing to confidently combine into a heart-warming finale.

In the previous couple of issues, it felt like Misty was in danger of becoming lost in the story somewhat, with the struggles of the endearing supporting cast threatening to overshadow her.  In fact, she was actually slowly becoming one of the least likeable characters in the group, coming across at times as stubborn and petulant rather than strong-willed and powerful.  Thankfully, this final issue sees her step back into the spotlight in a major way as her strength, defiance and ultimately her wisdom help to provide a wonderful denouement to the story that will have you smiling and nodding in agreement as you finally put the issue down.

While it was initially marketed as a “princesses can kick ass too” type affair, Another Castle has painted in far broader strokes over the course of its five issue run.  Yes, the message that girls can kick ass (and without sacrificing their femininity in the process, if you can believe it!) is very much front and center throughout, but there’s also the underlying message that no matter what people tell you you’re supposed to do, or who you’re supposed to be, you can still choose to be whoever or act however you damn well want.  Is this final issue a little on the nose at times? Well, perhaps.  But given the strong, positive and vitally important message at the heart of this book, you can forgive Wheeler and Ganucheau for dispensing with subtlety just a little to make sure that message is heard as loudly and as clearly as possible.

Smartly written, lovingly illustrated and poignant without ever feeling preachy, Another Castle is a remarkably uplifting series that deserves to be seen by as many people as possible.  If I had a child, boy or girl, this is exactly the kind of comic book I’d want them to be reading.

Rating: 4.5/5.

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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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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  1. Review – Another Castle: Grimoire TP (Oni Press) – BIG COMIC PAGE

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