Review – Another Castle: Grimoire TP (Oni Press)


Publisher: Oni Press
Writer: Andrew Wheeler
Artist: Paulina Ganucheau
Release Date: 15th February, 2017

This week sees the release of the collected volume of Another Castle, an all-ages fantasy adventure from writer Andrew Wheeler and artist Paulina Ganucheau.

The series introduces us to ass-kicking princess Misty, who finds herself captured and forced into an unwilling marriage by the evil Lord Badlug of the neighboring kingdom of Grimoire.  Wheeler and Ganucheau take great pleasure in gleefully subverting a number of well-worn fantasy tropes here, with a formidable yet still undeniably feminine leading lady and a wonderfully diverse and entertaining supporting cast of characters.

We covered the release of the series on a monthly basis, so rather than retreading old ground and repeating ourselves here, we thought it would be fun to dig back into our previous reviews and see what we already had to say.

Issue #1 review [LINK]:

Another Castle aims to flip the traditional fairy tale concept on its head, with focus on the princess as she attempts to thwart Badlug from within his own domain. Misty is not portrayed as a one-dimensional, helpless little girl, but an intelligent and strong-willed woman determined to save her kingdom.

What’s incredibly refreshing, however, is that Misty bears all these characteristics whilst rocking a ball gown! Time and time again, women are portrayed as either ‘weak but glamorous’, or ‘strong but entirely unfamiliar with the concept of make-up’. One of the book’s key strengths is recognising that women can be both (personally, I fully intend to attend my next con rocking both a fan tee and Mac lipstick).

Issue #2 review [LINK]:

Andrew Wheeler does a great job of keeping things light and fun while still emphasizing the peril of the situation. He also deserves some serious credit for the creation of Misty herself, and while it perhaps shouldn’t still be a notable occasion when a female character is written strongly with style and depth, the fact remains that, sadly, it is.

[…] It’s the artwork of Paulina Ganucheau that really pushes Another Castle to the next level. Bright, bold and with some truly fantastic character designs, she gives the book a wonderfully eye-catching ‘Saturday Morning Cartoon’ aesthetic that fits perfectly alongside the distinctly family friendly approach.

Issue #3 review [LINK]:

This latest issue takes things to a whole new level by injecting some rather well-reasoned logic into the familiar “vanquish the baddie, save the kingdom” ideology.  In particular, the fact that just because Misty vanquishes Lord Badlug, that doesn’t necessarily mean things will suddenly be all flowers and parties for the people of Grimoire.

It’s a brilliant decision by Wheeler to throw this little wrinkle into the proceedings, casting some serious doubt about whether Misty’s master plan is actually as smart as it initially seems.  As Zuurd the Witch points out, the death of Badlug will undoubtedly cause a war as the power vacuum demands to be filled, and we all know that the “best” men don’t always win wars.

Issue #4 review [LINK]:

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.

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.

Issue #5 review [LINK]:

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.

So, as you can see, we’re big fans of the series here at the Big Comic Page, and we simply love the fact that comics like these are being made.  Yes, the cartoony artwork and the moral message at its heart may not necessarily appeal to all readers, but for those who like their comics, fun, funny and with something to say, Another Castle: Grimoire comes highly, highly recommended.

Overall rating: 4/5.

If you want to find out a little more about the series, make sure to check our interview with its creators by CLICKING HERE.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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